It should come as no surprise that TV news is one big, giant dysfunctional family. There’s always the sullen cousin, the overzealous, giddy tween sibling and the cantankerous, crusty uncle. In news, you find a common thread with those people you work with – folks who share nearly identical angst, lofty ideals and ever-present enthusiasm. I know this because the people I worked alongside 20+ years ago at my first TV station remain some of my closest friends to this day. TV news people likely coined the term “the struggle is real” – because it oh-so is.
But – make no mistake – there is no stronger bond in news than between a reporter and videographer who respect (adore? cherish?) each other. Looking back, I’ve shared plenty of high-fives, nervous breakdowns and hysterical laughing fits with the men and women who man that camera. And in light of today’s tragic events in Virginia, I have no doubt that Alison Parker and Adam Ward were teammates, colleagues and maintained that classic little sister/big brother working relationship. I didn’t know them, but felt like I did. Everyone in TV knows that particular combo is hard to beat and almost impossible to duplicate.
When I started in TV in Des Moines, I had no idea what I was doing. None. Zilch. Zip. Ask anyone. The only thing I knew for certain was I was in WAY over my head. Little by little, the station’s veteran photographers took the time to show me the ropes. They did so – probably begrudgingly — but I never knew it. Those photographers were my touchstones. One part therapist, one part mentor and one part referee. (Shout out, Cortney. Props, DSD. Hugs, Donna. Kudos, Sims and Lil’ Ricky. So true, Hanu!) They were older, wiser and always hungry. You want to keep a photog happy? Feed them. They’re like tripod-carrying bears … bears who always seem to be on the cusp of low blood sugar.
I would do just about anything to 1) keep my videographer content and 2) somehow try to impress them/make them proud. Eventually, you settle in to a nice little groove where you can read your photographer’s mind. With a furtive glance, you can tell exactly when they want you to wrap up an interview or when to help them with the 100lbs of gear they schlep around.
I’m going to bed tonight with that picture of Parker and Ward goofing around seared in to my head. The genuine smiles on their young faces should be the ones firmly implanted in everyone’s medulla oblongata. In every article I’ve read, it always mentions how well they worked together and complimented each other. Yin to yang. Again – it proves my theory that the TV photog/reporter bond knows no bounds.
I hope some of my TV friends read this tonight and then go give your favorite (or even your not-so favorite) photog a lingering hug. Reporters and photogs are kindred spirits and it’s a shame we lost two of them today to such a senseless crime.
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