Two hours in the pouring rain… so worth it.
The trusty weather people said it was going to rain that day. So I was driving around Columbia following the dark and gloomy clouds that looked like they were about to burst with beautiful giant rain drops. I was on the prowl for rain (something that I would completely wish against on any other reporting day.) Finally, after stopping by a storm water drain and filming some sprinkles, the sky let loose. Yes! Just what I wanted!
I was doing a story on the less than adequate storm water system in Columbia. The city is trying to make some changes and the public is fed up with water ruining their backyards and basements. So I went to tell the story.
First, I needed video of the storm water drains during a heavy rain. I had to wait for a day when it was supposed to rain. I got some great footage. Tried to be creative with the shots. But I did have to protect the camera and walk around with a trash bag over it. It was hard to get video while it was pouring, keep the equipment safe, keep the camera steady, keep the lens as clean as I could, and see through the view finder while my face was dripping with water. Needless to say I was soaked, completely soaked by the end of it (good thing I had time to go home and dry off.)
I was not able to get an interview with the city manager until the next day (and he was the man to talk to about what the city was doing.) I also was having troubles finding someone in the community who had been having problems with storm water. It should not have been so hard because so many people were having problems but it was beginning to be an issue. No one wanted to talk, or give information about people’s homes that they had repaired due to storm water damage.
So that day, because of the bad weather, the relevance of the story and all the facts that I had the producers decided to make me live in the five and six. I got pretty lucky because the live truck operator found a drain that still had water pouring into it. So here I am, reporting live from a storm water drain (while some college guys were grilling and drinking right behind me- but we did a good job of blocking them out.)
Even though that was the end of my shift, I decided the story needed more attention. I had the interview with the city manager the next day and I thought I really needed to stick with it. So I did. I interviewed the city manager and that went well. But I placed about 43 phone calls between doing the story the day before and that morning with the city manager. No one would commit to an interview. So with encouragement from the assignment editor, I hit the streets. Went door to door in a neighborhood that I knew had a lot of storm water problems. So I was able to eventually find someone that would talk to me (after most people in the neighborhood pointed me to from one house to the next or didn’t answered their door.) I found my CCC (central compelling character that I have talked about before.) It made the story so much better having a real person talk about their real problem, rather than just a statistic.
On the way back to the station (which happened to be only an hour and a half before my story would air) I thought of a good idea for a graphic. I wanted pointers to help people prevent storm water issues to be seen as bullet points washing down a drain. So I had to crash edit a package and get a cool graphic done too. One thing that reporters should do, is basically know what their story structure and some of the writing should be by thinking about it throughout the day while the story is forming and you are getting all the pieces. You should know where most of the pieces go, by the time you get back.
So with two days of coverage, two hours in the rain, two million calls and doors knocked this is the product: