This post will be more about pontificating & ordering you around than it is about cancer, so if you just want the icky details on my boobs, you can skip this one. 🙂
There’s a chance it’s just me, but I think there’s a special bond between assignment editors and their photojournalists in a TV news room. As a deskie, you have to make a lot of phone calls to them that they don’t love. Changing their story when it’s 1/2 shot. Telling them they’re live two hours from home until 7pm. Waking them up in the middle of the night for breaking news.
But without a photog, the desk has nothing. When trying to explain my former profession, I’ve heard people call the desk like “the brain,” in a newsroom. It’s the first place information comes, gets processed, and sent elsewhere. But without the eyes (and camera) of the photog on the scene, all they have is 3rd party information.
People who WATCH television news have a much more special relationship with those same photojournalists than most of them realize. These are the men and women who rush towards the breaking news, right behind police & fire crews, armed only with a camera. We laugh about getting sent to chase snow, but they are out on roads that you are told not to drive on, showing you why you shouldn’t be out there. This week, they are at the site of a horrific landslide as an entire small town waits for news of the survivors.
But they also show you the beauty of the world. And hold the hand of a mother who has lost her child so she can tell her story and share her tears. They are in the courtroom when the drunk driver is convicted. They are at the dock when a Navy ship comes home after months at sea.
EVERYTHING that you see when you are watching the news, if it’s not from the studio, some talented professional was physically there. Good, bad, happy, sad, whatever you’re seeing you are seeing through their eyes.
I spent 11 years on the assignment desk. I worked with a whole range of photographers. And I think any of them would say (and have said in the last few days) Bill Strothman was one of the best.
But as I’ve watched the out pouring of love for Bill and his family, and Gary, the pilot whom I think we all believe spent the last seconds of his life trying to get Air 4 to the grass in front of the Space Needle, and not the rush hour street, one thing struck me.
Unfortunately, the KOMO family is much too familiar with the loss of a beloved colleague. But when we lost Tricia & Kathi, we knew it was coming. And we had a chance to tell them how we felt about them. I will never doubt they knew they were loved.
But with the shocking suddenness of a helicopter crash, we don’t have that chance. I’m sure we all thought that Bill knew how amazing people thought he was, but how much of that is true, and how much is just an assumption on our part?
So here comes the lecture, and a little putting my, er, writing?, where my mouth is.
None of us, not one single person, is really assured of anything in this life. So I honestly believe that it’s ALWAYS worth taking the time to tell someone that they are loved. What you admire about them. How glad you are to have them in your life.
I finally did something I’ve been joking about- starting my own meet up, just with people I like. I had brunch with three ladies I hadn’t seen in at least a year, one of them several.
I’m thinking I’ll take this to FB in a couple of weeks to see if I can get other people to pitch in, but since I have my little forum here, I’m also going to see if I can get people to tell each other how much we love and admire them now.
And I can think of no better place to start than with a couple of the amazingly talented photojournalists of the KOMO 4 Newsroom.
So without further ado, let me tell you about some of the people who Bill worked with in his nearly 30 years at KOMO.
The most obvious, is his son, Dan. It’s funny, I didn’t know Dan as well as some of the other guys, and I almost feel like I’ve gotten to know him better through FB in the 6 years I’ve been gone. He’s got a quick wit, his father’s infectious smile, and love of storytelling. My mom called after she’d seen the interview you did about your dad only hours after the crash, and said she was so impressed with your poise. I only wanted to argue with one of your points. You were so matter of fact as you said you could never be as good as Bill. I think Bill would agree, you can be.
Dan’s long-time friend who shot the interview, and came to KOMO at the same time, Eric. For some reason, largely involving the luck of the draw and schedules, I knew Eric better when I was at KOMO. Always with a quick smile and a kind word, even when I had to make some of those crappy calls, Eric has been posting raw video and nat sound stories to YouTube for years, before new management was pushing social media so hard. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned how much I appreciate that. I’ve always thought that natpacks are some of the best storytelling. Letting people see what’s happening for themselves takes a special talent.
Doug, another genuinely NICE person. It’s easy to become grumpy and bitter when you spend so long in news, and although I think I’ve seen you mad, I can’t even imagine you ever being mean. Such a talented photographer, reporters would come out of the morning story meeting and make a b-line for me at the assignment desk, “I’m doing X, and I need to work with Doug today.” Not just because you are great to work with, but you make the reporters you work with better.
Katie, my dear friend. You have more talent in your ponytail than some newsrooms have in their entire photography staff. I miss chatting with you on weekends and seeing your sunny smile. My heart hurts, knowing that you had to cover such a horrific scene last week, but I am so proud of you that you were able remain professional and I know you made Gary & Bill proud.
There are so many more, but I wanted to at least start before I completely over think this and let it take another week.
I’m just so amazingly lucky.
I’ve got so many amazing talented friends. And in knowing that I’m loved.
So now it’s YOUR turn!