Local News Service / Fox 29

The Internship Portfolio of Brian Donathan

My First On Air Pkg Required A Flip Cam


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

Investigating a Puppy Mill

Today I took a tip to the Allentown area with Mr. Gary Scurka.  Gary is a news veteran.  He was the first wounded journalist in the U.S. war in Afghanistan — a little useful trivia for your next dinner party.  He is also the producer for Fox29’s investigative team.

What brought us to Allentown was a story from The Morning Call covering new information on the puppy mill bust in the area.  The mill, called Almost Heaven, had been raided and shut down over the summer, and on the day the owners of the kennel were to appear for preliminary hearings, The Call ran a piece about how the kennel had deceived dog buyers by telling them they were purchasing a specific breed of dog.  The paper had actually taken the time the money to have three buyers’ pets tested for DNA to ascertain their exact breed.  All three dogs turned out to be different than the paperwork had implied.

Gary, myself, and Elaine (Fox29 photog) drove  up to Allentown to spray video of the courthouse where the proceeding were held.  Afterwards we shot over to the home of one of the dog owners covered in the article.  We interviewed the couple as well as the dog (so-to-speak), and rushed it back to Philadelphia just in time to edit the package and slap down some VO for the 5pm rundown.

March 18, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My First Interview Required A Step Stool

Actually it was more like a ladder.
A week or two ago I had the opportunity to go out with one of the station’s photogs who was going to shoot video of a charity bowling event in New Jersey. The event was hosted by former Philadelphia Phillie Gary Maddox. Fox29 and NBC10 wanted some shots of the former Phillies and a few current players who were slated to be in attendance. This was to be my first actual experience of an LNS video shoot.
(Again, LNS is the joint venture between Fox and NBC where the two have agreed to periodically share video)
Half way to our destination, the photog’s phone rang and on the other end was the station’s sports producer. He said he wanted some sound bites from one if not two of the current players in attendance. This is where I came in. I took a few notes on what they were interested in hearing from the athletes, and picked up the Fox29 mic.
The photog was a tremendous help. He explained what he needed from me for his end, and we were off and running.
I interviewed relief pitcher Ryan Madson, as well as Eagles offensive tackle, Jon Runyon who just happened to show up prior to our leaving the event.
The video taken that night was a joy to watch. Both the athletes are much taller than me. Runyon is nearly 6’8″. I had to hold the mic about as high as my arm could reach.
Overall it was a good experience. I learned little things about where to hold the mic to get the best audio (no matter how high you have to reach to get it), and I learned how important it is to let the interviewee completely finish before you move on to the next question. These are basic principles, I know, but this experience hit home how crucial it is to keep these things in your mind while in the middle of the whole process.

February 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Learning the Newsdesk

As I mentioned before, I report to the newsdesk each day I’m at Fox29. As an intern in the newsroom I’ve had to quickly learn the station’s system of gathering, recording, and communicating news to the entire newsroom staff.
Part of this process deals with handling incoming calls, which can be anything from an on location reporter calling for one of the producers to a member of the public providing a breaking news tip.
I have learned how incoming news is both queued for further review, and how to personally follow up on stories that are incomplete. I have spoke with police captains, concerned citizens, disgruntled workers, and angry parents. The process is constant and always changing. To put it as mildly as I possibly can… I love it.
To be fair, there are times when the news is slow coming, and that can be a bit frustrating, but more often than not I am faced with a story or two that requires the deeper digging to determine what really took place. That is the joy of the newsdesk — piecing it all together so the producers can put it into words the anchors can relay to the public.

February 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day One

The first day of my internship started off with a bang. I had no more than taken off my jacket and checked in with the assignment editor at the newsdesk (where I report each day), when a producer hustled me into the control room to run the prompter for the 12 o’clock news. Talk about being nervous! That little dial that scrolls the script along for the anchors is more temperamental than a hungry polar bear after 3 months of hibernation — one false slip and the words shoot by, leaving an anchor at a loss, and a producer in a foul mood. Luckily, everything went fine, and thirty minutes into my first day I proved competent enough to run a teleprompter. Nothing really worth bragging about, but a sense of relief nonetheless.

February 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Catching Up

I realize I’ve been severely neglecting this blog, but I’ll do my best to post — starting this week — on a regular basis.
I started my internship at Fox29 a few weeks back, and I’ve already had a handful of tremendous opportunities to do some interesting work. I won’t be able to remember everything for you day by day, but I will catch you up on a few of the more exciting details that have evolved thus far with a separate blog post for each little adventure. Enjoy

February 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Local News Service Announced, 11.13.2008

newsThe Fox Television Stations and NBC Local Media announced their new venture, Local News Service (LNS), back in November 2008.  Here is Business Wire’s article about the official announcement.  It provides the skinny on what the project is about.

Philadelphia will be the first market to implement the new project.  The key to all this is the hope that LNS will eventually start up in other markets around the country where Fox and NBC own stations.

I will be interning for Fox29 here in Philadelphia — working directly for the station’s new LNS division — starting in January 2009.

December 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment