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!