Thursday, November 3, 2016
WNEP photographer Steve Smallwood retired last week. He had been here nearly 40 years, and he is one of those people who helped invent the second era of television news gathering. The first group put news departments on the air in the 50's. The second wave, in my view, were the individuals who helped the transition from film to video tape, and now digital.
The mediums have changed, but the basics have not. Get the pictures. Edit them so you get a clear understanding of what happened. Get creative, but stay honest.
Steve had the photographer's eye, and the editor's steady hand. He could make a bad story good, and a good story great. We worked together occasionally. Unfortunately, with my shift, our stories were "run and gun." They weren't the ones where you had a great deal of time to make them masterpieces. There was a lot of "Let's get this on the air." The clock was not our friend. Still, we got it done, and Steve managed to make it look good.
Our last story was in late August, one of my favorites, freshman move in day at a college or university. In this case, it was extra special, because we shot it at my alma mater, Marywood in Scranton. The scene was controlled chaos. The clock was ticking. We made our noon slot, with just a few minutes to spare. Even though it was a rushed story, Steve managed to make it sing.
He was one of those guys you love having in the newsroom. We worked on a few historical pieces together. Steve had that veteran journalist's memory. He knew the names and the faces. He knew their significance, and most importantly, he knew how to find them in our vast archives.
I had been around the block a few times by the time I arrived at WNEP. Still, Steve taught me things, and I say that about very few people.
Rides with Steve were never boring, even the long journeys across our coverage area. You see, Steve and I disagree on just about every political and social issue out there. We discussed. We never argued. I was never able to sway him, and vice versa. Perhaps, that is the thing I will miss about Steve the most.
AT 12:00 AM