Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Well, it happened early Saturday morning. The WNEP backyard had a coating of fresh snow, and the tree was just asking to be photographed.
It might be a little askew, but show me a perfect Christmas tree. They don't exist, and it's that uniqueness that makes Christmas special.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
I'm not a huge road report fan. Most of it is common sense, but we are in the picture and information business, so we do the show and tell. It's good to see what's going on out there. It's what we do.
Let me back up a bit. This whole thing started with a phone call from the boss right after I got off the set Sunday morning. The station is great about getting hotel rooms for us when the weather is nasty. I declined. I don't live that far away, and my dog would miss me.
The ride to work wasn't all that bad. My town's road crew does a good job, and most of my trip is via interstate. It was salted and good to go. I did leave home a little early to be on the safe side.
When I got to the office, we kicked around live shot locations. We wanted something in the higher elevations and Mountaintop did the trick. A little secret-- we wanted a place where we could establish a microwave signal without extending the truck's mast all the way. Ice coated masts don't like to come down.
We found a nice spot in a Rite Aid parking lot. It was safely close to Route 309, without being ON 309. Food, drink, and a bathroom were close by. Those are essentials because we had a live hit every 15 minutes, and we knew we'd be tethered to the truck for hours.
Our last hit was 7:56 AM. It was then out to gather fresh video and interviews for our noon broadcast. I'm a big White Haven fan. It's a pretty town, filled with friendly people, and it has a nice little commercial district. Ice coated everything. The story was there right in front of us. We got what we needed and hustled back to the office.
It was a beautiful, but dangerous morning. I'm glad we made it through unscathed, and I hope we gave you some good information in the process.
Road Dog Day 1 was in the books, and I'm sure there will be many more to come.
Monday, December 9, 2013
Marywood University lit the Christmas tree inside its rotunda Wednesday afternoon. As always, I give Marywood tons of credit for waiting until AFTER Thanksgiving to get the season going.
They started doing a tree inside the rotunda when I was a senior, many, many, many years ago, and I didn't go that first year. However, I've been returning for the past several years for a quick shot of the Christmas spirit. In spite of the heat and the crowd, it's a nice afternoon-- a little music, a little song, and a big tree in the middle of the room. It's also a chance to reconnect with old friends and wander about the campus that was my second home for four years.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
That's the Mitchell statue on the left, with the courthouse behind it. The Scranton Electric Building is in the center, and the spire you see on the right is City Hall.
I love a sunny morning.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
It's the Scranton Life building at Spruce and Adams. If I have a favorite downtown Scranton building, this is it. Retail on the first floor. Offices above.
It's bright. White. Clean. And it looks great on a sunny morning.
Friday, December 6, 2013
The first step was to prepare a couple short pieces for Newswatch 16 This Morning, giving viewers a brief idea of the issues that brought us to this point. Done. Photographer Dave and I jumped in to one of our mobile newsrooms extra early for the trip to the hospital.
If you're familiar with the area around the hospital, parking is at a premium-- especially if you're in a big van, with a mast that rises in the air. You not only have to find room on the street. You have to avoid wires above. One of the hospital's parking lots was a simple solution, but the hospital didn't want us on their property.
The morning broadcast went smoothly. Then, the appointed hour arrived. 7 AM. The start of the walk out.
The union really had its act together. The walk out was visual, with plenty of signs. It was also filled with the sound of striking nurses chanting. The union's public relations person made sure nurses were available. It provided human faces to go along with the facts surround the strike.
The hospital's owner went a different route. No one was available to go on camera. We were issued a polite warning about photographing and interviewing on hospital property. The hired security guards knew the sidewalk is public property, and we weren't bothered as long as we stayed on the concrete. Security didn't complain when we cut across the parking lot to take a short cut back to our truck. Management provided several news releases, so we had the hospital's point of view, and both sides were presented. Still, I have to say the first round in the public relations war went to the union. I have a feeling the PR aspect of this really doesn't concern management all that much. Two big companies essentially control health care around here, and when you have a guaranteed customer base, public relations is not among your primary concerns.
I produced a balanced report for our noon newscast. Bill Wadell introduced it from the noon union rally, and he continued coverage fore the rest of the day.
I noticed the buses used to transport the replacement nurses lined up in front of the Hilton on Adams Avenue in Scranton. I'm sure the replacements are spending some of their off hours wandering about the Electric City, so in a strange way, it's a boost to the economy.
As with every labor dispute, it's sad it had to come to this, and I'm not taking sides. It's time for reason, common sense, and just plain decency to jump front and center.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
It's a given in the business. We keep an eye on the competition. In recent years, that included watching new media try to eat a slice of our pie. However, there are times when we are our own worst enemies.
Submitted for your disapproval, KXMB in North Dakota. It allowed talentless goof Will Ferrell to anchor a real newscast as character Ron Burgundy this past weekend.
I heard his co anchor, KXMB's Amber Schatz on the radio the other morning. She said they didn't want Ferrell/Burgundy to go to far because they'd "lose their credibility." Really!? I have a newsflash for young Amber. You lost all credibility the second you put that witless oaf on the set.
The stunt gave KXMB tons of free publicity. Clips of the Burgundy newscast were on stations across the country and the internet. Was it worth it? Was it worth damaging your image for the attention you got from a silly stunt?
Sadly, there are a lot of people in the business who will say "yes."
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
December presents the biggest blog header challenge. I aim for something with a holiday theme. A lot of the big holiday displays don't get rolling until later in the month, as it should be. The older I get, the more I dislike displays more than a couple weeks before the holiday.
This is the front entrance to the Scranton School District Administration Building on North Washington Avenue. I snapped the photo, well before dawn, on my way to work on a recent morning.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Tom changed his schedule this year, so there I was, on the road, with a photographer, in search of hunters and their prey. It was a cold and rainy Monday morning. A long drive through Lackawanna and Wayne counties showed a lot of cars and trucks parked along roads, but few hunters dragging out their trophies.
It was time for plan B-- go to a processing shop and have the hunters come to us. It worked. We met a very nice and polite teen from Scranton and his father. The younger got a deer on his very first day of trying. It was a good story, and we made our noon deadline with plenty of time to spare.
I know you were waiting for this part. I know there's ample reason to thin the herd. Deer cause crop and property damage. They're all over the highways. Having said that, I don't like looking at dead animals-- no matter how good the reason, and yes, I do eat beef.
Hunting is a tradition thousands of years old. It seems to work well. Still, way deep down, I have a feeling there might be a better way to control the deer population. Do I know what it is? Absolutely not.
I thought it was just me, but the number of hunters seemed down this year. I spoke with others. They agree. The old timers say fewer young people are taking up the activity. That's easy to see.
A state representative has drafted a bill, asking the state game commission to move the opening day of deer season to a Saturday, just like bear season. The bear move appears to be a success. The state rep reasons that people can't skip weekday work because they can't afford to. The economy is weak. I don't see a problem with a move to Saturday, but you know Pennsylvania is slow to change. Let's at least give it a try for a few years, and see how it goes. Kids can actually go to school on Monday after Thanksgiving and get an education.
Happy hunting, and stay safe.
Monday, December 2, 2013
It's widely believed that Black Friday will eventually creep further into Thanksgiving. Most stores opened at 7 or 8 Thursday night. I expect 4 or 5 pm starts next year. Face it. Holidays as we know them are over.
Authorities say a six year old boy, playing with a lighter, started a fire that displaced dozens. I know you can't watch a kid every second of every day, but you can make it difficult for them to get themselves, and others, in harm's way.
I've already grown weary of the Christmas hype. The endless commercialism breeds cynicism.
It's nice to see the puppies abandoned in Luzerne County back in October getting good homes.
You have to wonder how the financial markets keep rising.
Meteorological winter has arrived. I know it's only three months. It seems longer.
Hazleton has joined the growing list of municipalities in serious financial trouble. I fear it will be a very long list when all is said and done.