Welcome to the PIT List!

I'm a network field producer who also worked in local tv as a line producer and field producer. Over the years, I have had the great fortune to work with super people. Now I'd like to pass along what I know and rant a tad.

"Dear Maggie..." pitlist@gmail.com
I check it sporadically, but I love answering emails, so if you have an issue or difficult person you need help with, don't hesitate to shoot it my way.

Maggie L

Maggie L
One of the rare times I'm in the office

Monday, September 22, 2008

If a tree falls in the forest and there's no TV crew to document it, it is news?

The recurring complaint about media crews and Katrina is that all of us were so focused on New Orleans that we missed the devastation happening to other parts of the Gulf Coast. Consider the re-dux, obviously on a much smaller scale, with Gustav.

Just a few days after the third anniversary of Katrina, New Orleans found itself facing Gustav, which swirled out in the Gulf menacingly. A massive evacuation ensued. So did a massive influx of journalists into the city. When it was all over, Gustav seemed more bark than bite, the levees held, and everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief. We all began to make our way home.

It was on my way home that I noticed something. Correspondent Kris Gutierrez and I had to drive to Baton Rouge to fly out since the New Orleans airport was still closed. We thought we’d make the couple hour drive, grab some lunch and be at the airport with plenty of time. Keep in mind that we never lost power at our hotel in New Orleans. And the night before we left, there were restaurants open in the Quarter. In fact, it was almost lively, what with all the news crews, police and rescue workers in town.

So you’ll imagine our surprise when we cruise in to Baton Rouge and not a thing is open. It seems the whole city is without power. The occasional grocery or drug store that is open has a line a mile long outside it. We drive around. We get lost. Huge old trees are downed everywhere in Baton Rouge’s old neighborhoods. We give up and make our way back to the airport. It’s on backup power and the temperature inside is something like 85 degrees. We feel lucky to get on our plane and fly home. Once home, I see that in the state of Louisiana, some two million are without power. Isn’t that a story?

My defense, albeit a poor one, is that with TV news, time marches on- and quickly. The minute we’re given to reflection on a story, we’re sent to the next one. Two million without power is a lot, but what about the upcoming Presidential election? What if Ike is lining up in the Gulf with Houston in its crosshairs? What about the financial crisis? It’s always something. Sometimes it’s the magician’s sleight of hand—we’re looking at something shiny while the real trick is being played out of sight. But more often, we’re more like a hyperactive teen. Too much news. Too little time. It’s easy to get distracted.

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