Sunday, August 28, 2005

Loss in the family

From the South Bound Tribune: Crash claims WSBT veteran

STEVENSVILLE -- He was the unseen face behind a steady, graceful television camera for two decades.

The man who caught on tape the glory years of the Fighting Irish under Lou Holtz.

The man who would tell WSBT-TV news anchor Mike Collins to "stand by."

And Collins would listen.

"He'd point his finger at us, and that was our cue. We were on," said Collins.

On Friday morning, Tommy Csiszar, the reliable journalist who earlier in his career used to chase breaking news stories with a 20-pound camera strapped to his shoulder, became the story.

The 48-year-old TV newsman was killed in a two-car, head-on collision on Michigan 139 in Royalton Township shortly after midnight Thursday.

He was heading to his St. Joseph home from the South Bend TV station.

I knew Tommy Csiszar. I didn't know him very well. I tend to have a problem of keeping my head down and plugging through my day. Over the past few months I'd started lifting my head up and sharing some hellos with Tom while cruising through the halls of our news empire. I never saw anything but a happy look on his face. He even had some great quips to bring you a quick smile.

Tom spent 20 years at WSBT. I hope after 20 years I can have the same ease and smooth demeanor. Even though I didn't know him very well, I do know that he was extremly likable and extremly liked.

Rest well Tom, you will be missed.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Is the train really leaving the station?

Where is video/photojournalism headed and how will it get there?

This is the impetus for today's musings: KnoxNews Random This (via: Instapundit)

Check it out...well, at least wait until I've explained my thoughts. Is this where video story telling is headed? Yes and well, no.

I'm torn. Everyone seems to have a digital camera nowadays(everyone that is except me). Most of these cameras have the ability to grab video. If you have a computer you can download free editing software. With these two tools and a site to host your video, you too can become an independent video journalist.

Plenty of people have already discussed video on the web. I visit a TV photojournalist website message board at Purists believe that herky-jerky video will fail to keep viewers like traditional TV stories shot with $20,000+ cameras. Pundits (like Terry Heaton)and those on the front end of the internet explosion believe the dinosaurs will be left behind scratching their heads while their purses get thinnner and thinner.

If it were up to me...

I want to watch video on the web. I just don't want it the size of a gameboy screen. I don't want it to be a shaky, string of long boring shots made up of low techinical quality video. I do want it be important to me, my neighbors, and community. I want to get close to the people who make up the world around us.

Bloggers will meet these needs. But will those without training and experience be able to achieve success? The good ones will. They will rise to the top and provide an alternative to coverage akin to the rise of bloggers spreading information filling over the gaps of traditional media.

I can't wait for bandwith to catch up with the video that can be available. I would love to see video that gives me a glimpse into the life of someone in my community(with the internet that could stretch from across town to across the seas) that even I may not see or think of covering. These video bloggers will be similar to all the extra channels you have on cable today. Niche programs filling niche needs.

But will they take over? No. Have newspapers ceased to exist? No. Have movies stopped drawing crowds? No. So too will TV stations continue their dominance of their respective industry.

Have those industries suffered a decline in viewership/readership? Yes. The internet is one of the reasons the media titans have taken their hits. However, it's also let these titans make their impact in other ways. People want a certain level of quality from the media they ingest. They also want to get it as easily as possible. That plays into the hands of the big media who have the funds and ability to gather and create slick content and then disseminate it quickly and easily.

Most of you reading this are discerning consumers of media. You are the exception. You are willing to make the effort to round out the platter of news you seek. You will be willing to take a hit in video quality to find those nuggets of human life that delve deeper into specific interests you have.

My take? When I'm ready for some alternatives to the mainstream, I'll surf around until I can find sites like RandomThis or Vodcasts. After all we can't subsist on an Atkins-like diet of "Live, Local, and Late Breaking!" We all have to have our veggies sometime.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Sick Call

Dial tone.



"W***, Can I help you?"

"Hey John, it's Brian. I'm calling in sick today. My wife and kids have strep throat. I have to stay home to take care of them."

"O.K. "

My guilt kicks in. "John, I'm sorry. I called as soon as I knew I wouldn't be able to make it."

"It's O.K. you can't help it."

"Thanks John, hopefully I'll see you tomorrow."


Yippee...I've got the day off. Too bad I don't get to laze around. I get to take care of the bambinos and my beautiful wife.

Monday, August 15, 2005

What is Sapphoto: Nightside?

I bet you were trollling around the internet just clicking links when you happened onto this little site called Sapphoto: Nightside.

"What's Sapphoto: Nightside?" rolls around your head as you get ready to hit the back button. Who could be so lame to pass you onto this site where the author is obviously hung up on the cool gimmick of a name he fashioned.

Sapphoto: Nightside is the chronicle of my modest attempts to be a photojournalist, cameraman, cameramonkey(althought I think this demeans the simians), live truck operator, satellite truck operator, editor, tour guide, and ferryman covering Michiana with a 30 pound Panasonic camera, microphone, and microwave live truck.

I've been lugging around a camera for 7 years now. I've worked in Illinois, Florida, and now Indiana(where I hope to stay for a while). I've been working to make news as a professional for 9 years.

I do all the above while I work the nightside shift? The Army had a saying that they did more before 9a.m. than most people do all day. I do more after 1:30 than a producer does in a shift(just kidding my keyboard ticklin' friends). We try to find the news to fill up that half-hour news slot after prime time. You know the one. Right before Letterman or Leno. We do most of this without any direct supervision of management. They go home and try to forget the day they've just suffered.

Sooo...what happens once the policy makers leave?

Well, we don't come in until most people are looking to get home to their families and private lives. Therefore, it is becomes a daily trick to find interesting events to make into one minute thirty pieces waiting to be dropped into the produer's puzzle.

Hang on and watch. I hope you can find something useful from my insight into the nightside.