Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Just Do It

Lesson of the Day: Just do it.

I didn't learn this one from footwear, but from fear and confusion, from watching the action from the sidelines for a bit too long, from fumbling with my camera and filming with my mind's eye instead of the device.

I got a chance to film defendants and plaintiffs speak about the verdict in the Phylicia Barnes case at the court house today. I had never used one the Baltimore Sun's cameras, microphones or tripods before. I learned how to use each item but it was hard for me to focus. My mind was racing with nervousness and excitement.

As I headed down Calvert Street, I psyched myself up for this opportunity. I imagined a row of cameras set up outside of a courthouse and speakers at a podium. I imagined an empty spot for my tripod and a few minutes to set up. But when I arrived, I saw a cluster of reporters and cameramen around a small group of people.

This isn't my assignment, right? I'm waiting for a press conference, right? Wrong.

When the reporters dispersed, I realized I had missed the shot. I was still standing on the sidewalk with my camera in its bag.

I ran into a few other reporters from the Sun. One of them had filmed the father of Phylicia Barnes, the state's attorney, and others with his iPhone. Another got footage of Phylicia's mother. I set up my camera hoping to get a shot of the jurors leaving the courthouse, but they never appeared.

I was able to produce a package with the other Sun reporters' footage, but I was disappointed with myself. Why didn't I just jump in and film, whether I knew what was going on or not? If local broadcast stations like WBAL and WJZ were hovering around certain individuals, why wasn't I?

I just didn't know what was going on. I had never been in that situation before and I didn't know how to break in. I wanted to observe how the reporters behaved and how they filmed before I jumped in myself. But that wasn't my assignment, and I was crushed when I realized I had failed.

When it comes to news, you don't always know if what you're witnessing will become the centerpiece story. But when you recognize what's going on is important, you can't just stand there and watch it happen. As a journalist, it's my job it record it as it's happening, then edit out the bits that aren't so newsworthy.

I need to just do it. Use my elbows. Make my way through the crowd and be proud that I represent the most important publication in this city, even if I'm the only girl or the smallest person handling a camera.

Here's the video I edited. Let me know what you think.

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