Daily Archives: January 20, 2009

Obama Bus Blog Creates Viewer Interest, But Does It Miss the Story? (Literally–I Mean, Are We Missing It?)

One Obama Bus Breaks Down, Forcing a Passenger Relocation--and Delay

One Obama Bus Breaks Down, Forcing a Passenger Relocation--and Delay

The details of our epic bus ride from South Florida to–well, Washington supposedly–have been detailed on WPLG’s website, justnews.  In nearly 30 hours on the road, WPLG/Miami’s intrepid bare-bones crew of reporter Mark Joyella and photographer Mario Alonso have riden in a cramped bus attempting to file packages via DV cam and aircard-equipped laptop, with limited results, followed by a string of road trip rough spots, including an ill-planned search for a restaurant “just off the highway” near Savannah, GA, followed by a blown compressor aboard the crew’s bus (result:  no heat, just an ever-more-frigid interior temperature), a tire blowout overnight in South Georgia, and finally, a snowstorm in the Carolinas that ultimately coincided with the failure of the Obama Bus’ windshield wiper motor.  The last event forcing a third of the 130 Floridians bound for the inauguration–including Mark and Mario–to squeeze into the remaining two buses, now running against the clock.

The most recent mileage sign:  Washington:  161 Miles.  The time:  around 10 a.m.  The math:  Not.  In.  Our.  Favor.  Even if you were just trying to cross the city line by noon, when Barack Obama will put his hand on the Lincoln Bible and be sworn in, it’d be tight.  But the city is locked down.  Entire sections of the Capitol area are now off limits due to extremely large crowds, and friends have reported to us waits of up to two hours to board sardine-packed Metro trains, which remain the only way into town, since vehicular traffic–including Obama Busses–can’t drive in.

What makes all of this interesting from a local newser point of view is whether WPLG’s low budget effort will actually have a bigger return with the misadventure… the humor of the blog effort (and we’re getting some amusing “we’re pulling for you” emails and Tweets, along with many snarky comments about bus rides, slow drivers, and incompetent local news crews) has taken on a life of its own that may be more powerful, ultimately, than seeing yet another package amid the crowds in Washington.

If we miss the Inauguration altogether, can we go directly on to the expense account lunch at Hawk and Dove?


Filed under Local News 2.0

Obama Bus Blog Reveals Limits, Laughs of Going Guerilla on the Big Story


The "Obama Bus" in an iPhone Pic Filed by Joyella

The "Obama Bus" in an iPhone Pic Filed by Joyella

Photographer Mario Alonso and I set out at 6:30 a.m. Monday for Washington to cover the Inauguration of Barack Obama as the nation’s 44th President.  We don’t have credentials, we don’t have a hotel room, we don’t have satellite time, an uplink truck, a fiber link–we don’t really even have a “plan.”  What our station did send  us off with was a check for $360–payment for two seats aboard Charter Bus #007… one of a fleet of three carrying a group of 130 South Florida Obama supporters to Washington to see their candidate sworn in today.

So far, our backpack/guerilla efforts have put Mario and me in both the “hero” and “goat” position.  We blogged and Twittered for several hours as the sun rose Monday, and even filed a video story from the bus, shot on mini DV, imported into a Powerbook and Final Cut Pro, and than uploaded via an air card.  The 30 second clip took nearly an hour to file, but it was in the newsroom in Miami in time to be the second story at noon, and that earned us raves.  

Ah, how quickly they forget.  With the “Obama Bus Crew” filing “packages” from the road, producers and managers back in the newsroom fell immediately back into the “we have a crew on the scene mentality” and began asking that we send tease video… and even calling at 4 with ideas on “elements” for the “6 o’clock package.”  Well, as you might have guessed, there never was a 6 o’clock package.  As the bus rolled through rural South Georgia, cell service was diminished at best, and the :50 clip we’d intended to feed made slow to no progress for more than 90 minutes until it became clear the video would not be in house in time.  We did a phoner.

A stop for dinner outside Savannah landed Mario and me in a Houlihan’s restaurant–with Wi-Fi.  Success!  Heroes again!  Not only did we feed the 6 o’clock “story,” we ran outside, shot nighttime standups for an eleven o’clock story, and did interviews and shot fresh cover video… all quickly uploaded, then downloaded in Miami thanks to high speed wireless.

Since then, the Obama bus convoy was sidelined by a shredded tire… and then a failed compressor that turned the interior “heat” to ice-cold air conditioning.  Passengers–and us–bundled up and contemplated tears.  The windshield froze over, and the bus driver had to pull off I-95 to deal with the problem–all shot on DV and snapped on my iPhone, enabling me to file pics and write up quick blog posts to combine with phoners for the morning show.  Ah, convergence!

What will happen in DC?  Who knows?  I veer back and forth between hating this assignment and loving it.  Please share your thoughts!

Mark Joyella and Mario Alonso Aboard the Obama Bus

Mark Joyella and Mario Alonso Aboard the Obama Bus


Filed under Uncategorized