Local News Service / Fox 29

The Internship Portfolio of Brian Donathan

Figuring Out A Model For LNS

I have been working with LNS two nights a week for the past few weeks, and it’s becoming apparent that a lot of confusion still exists between this new video sharing venture and its television station cohorts.

Producers at Fox29 are often overheard admitting complete lack of understanding when it comes to LNS’ role.  For example, a breaking news event will surface, and the 10pm producer will not have an available photographer to cover it.  Their first instinct appears to lead them to want LNS to cover it. The problem is that LNS is its own entity, and doesn’t necessarily jump to change plans just because a producer wants breaking video.  LNS has its own events to shoot, and must make its own decision when to bust one event in favor of another.  This has been an obvious frustration for many people on the Fox side of the newsdesk.

In many ways it seems LNS lacks a specific identity.  The need for a clear definition — one all producers and assignment editors can understand — seems critical to the elimination of existing complications and/or confusions.

I will focus a short column at the end of the semester based on what I think LNS’ bread and butter should be — community event specialist.

May 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Two Vigils, Two Messages

Once again I was out with George Roach and LNS.  Tonight we were scheduled to stop by and gather video of two candlelight vigils for victims gunned down on the streets of Philadelphia.  The first was for Dwayne Canty — a young man gunned down by an uknown assailant.

The vigil appeared to be attended by not only Canty’s family, but many friends as well as others from the neighborhood.  Several people spoke through a load speaker as the flames flickered in the chilly night air.
The message of the night was one of coming together, taking responsibility for the youth in the neighborhood, and avoiding tragedy in the future.  Dwayne’s mother spoke briefly.  She looked barely old enough to have a baby, let alone three (now two) teenage sons.

It was a rare glimpse for me (someone not originally from Philly) into the hearts of residents who are faced with crime and death on a scale I could not possibly imagine.

I held the mic as George asked Canty’s mother questions — her two sons flanking her.  Her strength was remarkable.

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The second vigil for another shooting victim had a slightly different feel to it.  As we pulled up in our SUV, which was unmarked, the young group standing outside the victim’s home began muttering “police, police.”  It was at this point that George filled me in on the details behind this victim’s death.  The story is that a young boy (around 12) was robbed leaving a pizza place in the neighborhood.  Upon informing his father, a police officer, his dad and a friend began combing the area for anyone suspicious when they stumbled on to the victim (I cannot remember his name) and some friends.  To make a long story short, the scene escalated and the young man was shot by the off duty officer.  The wound paralyzed the young man who months later would die from further complications.

Once the people at the vigil realized we were media, they began clowning for the camera.  It was apparent this vigil wouldn’t have the same uplifting message the other one had.  At one point, a marked police car drove by resulting in chants of, “F*** the police!” from the almost entirely teenage crowd.

May 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Scene Of The Crime

crime-scene-tape-police-lightsI was working with LNS tonight, and was given the opportunity to head out with veteran photographer George Roach.  We were shooting a few events that had been predetermined when we heard the police radio in our live truck squawk something about a shooting on Hunting Park Ave.

It sounded bad, so we checked in with the LNS desk.  They made a call to Philadelphia Police radio who confirmed a homicide in the parking lot of a KFC/Taco Bell.  George and I sped to the scene, where we found crime scene units marking 9mm shells in the parking lot.  Both NBC10 and Fox29 were about to go on the air, so George and I set up the live truck, hooked up the camera, tuned into both stations, and starting feeding images within minutes.

This was one of the first, if not the first, test of LNS feeding live for both NBC10 and Fox29.  It was difficult due to the limitation of communications between the photog and both stations.  George could only speak with the producer in the Fox29 control room.  He had no way to communicate with the NBC10 producer, which sort of fell to me on another phone speaking with our LNS desk editor who in turn was speaking with people at NBC10.

It was a bit hectic at first, but everything fell into place.  This is the news though, isn’t it supposed to work that way?!

May 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

First Full Day With LNS

Finally my requests were paying off.  The Local News Service crew had moved into their new room on Fox29’s second floor, and I was going to be spending 1 to2 nights per week working alongside their staff.

At this point the, the Fox side of LNS was operating with 3 different desk editors and a small group of photographers.

The operation of LNS is simple on the surface.  Time will tell how well it all works together.  Here are some basics:

The LNS office located within NBC10 runs the dayside of the operation.  Stories are selected based on events both stations would require, such as a press conferences, breaking news, etc. (typically where a reporter is not being sent).  Photogs shoot VO and sometimes gather SOT that is then ingested at NBC10’s location and fed back to Fox29.

In the evening, Fox29’s LNS office handles all video gathering.  News events follow the same criteria, and most are agreed upon by both LNS offices before all coverage transitions over to LNS at Fox29.

May 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My First On Air Pkg Required A Flip Cam

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In a driving snow and a mandate from Kyle Carmean — Fox29’s Assignement Manager — I followed up on a tip call regarding “unsavory” paintings of Barack Obama and Joe Biden at a coffee shop (The Last Drop) in Old City.

Armed with my personal Flip Cam I entered the small coffee shop to discover an array of almost comic book-like paintings of Obama and Biden teaming up as super heroes.  The two were dipicted fighting off Hitler, closing Guantanamo Bay, reversing the effects of global warming, and even saving Jesus from the cross.

Nobody in the coffee shop appeared to be offended.  I collected video of the paintings by local artist, Jayson Musson.  I interviewed the coffee shop employee — a friend of the artist  — who said no one had complained.  I also spoke with a couple of local college students who said they did not find the paintings offensive in any way.

Fox29 used a couple of images from the video I shot.  It’s hard to get steady shots with a Flip Cam, so they pulled a view of the paintings from my efforts to include in a 20 second VO for the noon show.   The show’s produceer was kind enough to allow me to write the VO for the show as well.

May 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment