August 11, 2008
When it comes to communicating, I'm woefully behind the times. While many people carry around a blackberry, iphone, or some type of PDA these days, I'm content with my regular old cell phone. I use it to take pictures and video, but I mostly just use it for its intended purpose: talking on the phone. Imagine that, a phone used for talking to other people! It seems that most people don't like doing that anymore, because virtually everyone I know would rather send me a text message than pick up the phone and have a normal conversation.
I have to admit, I'm not a fan of texting. While I've gotten faster at it, it still takes way too much time to try and type out a simple sentence on a tiny phone pad. Being the impatient person that I am, when I want to tell a friend or relative something, I would rather hit two buttons and talk to them instantly than waste 60 seconds typing out a sentence, sending it, and waiting for a reply. I realize texting serves a different purpose than the average phone call. Most people I know find it useful when they want to communicate a quick message without getting into a drawn out conversation.
I suppose I should start embracing text messaging. After all, it's 2008 and everyone else has been doing it for what, 10 years now? I should probably sign up for texting sooner than later. Under my current plan, I'm paying for every individual text message. Needless to say, it's not cheap. It's so bad, my cell phone carrier has actually started texting me to say "you'd save money if you purchased a texting plan!" I'm not even joking.
July 29, 2008
It's weeks like this I wish there was a such thing as human cloning. I say that in jest, because what I really mean is I need some way to be in more places at one time. I'll give you an example.
My Monday started with a 4:30 AM phonecall from our morning show producer about an accident in Appomattox County. I quickly changed clothes and started driving the 45 minutes from my apartment to the accident scene. After getting some video and talking with state police, I headed back to Lynchburg to write and edit my story. I was back by 6:30 and managed to get the story on News 7 Mornin' shortly thereafter. After that, I had just enough time to get home and change into my reporter clothes so that I could begin my "real" work day. And what a day it was. I still managed to cover four other stories Monday before calling it a day at 6:30. And even after all that, there was still one story left that I wanted to cover. But after a 14 hour work day and abbreviated rest the night before, I just didn't have the energy to continue.
I don't say any of this to brag. I know for a fact that my colleagues both at News 7 and our competing organizations work similar hours with the same eagerness to get out and cover stories in their beats.
I'm writing to give you an idea of what it takes to get even the simplest stories on the air. Factor in the time it takes to drive to a story, conduct interviews, get video, drive back, write, and then edit it all together, and you've probably burned two or three hours. Then consider that some of the stories I cover are in Halifax or Pittsylvania County. It's a 90 minute drive one way just to reach parts of the southside from Lynchburg. Put all of that together and you'll understand why I feel like I need more than one version of myself to get it all done. Of course, if you ask some of my friends or family, they'll probably tell you one Tim Saunders is already more than enough!
All kidding aside, I can say that having so many places to be is teaching me a lot about time management. I'm learning how to get the most out of the resources I already have available. And that's really all you can ask for in any job. A chance to challenge yourself and learn something new about your limits and yourself. I can honestly say this job is teaching me a lot about both.
July 17, 2008
As talk about our state's transportation issues continues, I've noticed more and more discussion of trains. Many on the state and local level have started looking to the rails for a solution to rising gas prices, crowded highways, and road construction. Some believe trains are the answer to getting trucks off the road. Others say passenger rail will offer a cheaper way to travel or commute between cities near and far. However you feel about trains - their purpose or their future use - you can bet it's a topic we'll be hearing more about in the coming months.
This week alone, I spent two days covering train issues. My assignment Wednesday gave me the unique opportunity to ride the Norfolk Southern tracks between Roanoke and Lynchburg. My photographer Andrea Craig and I were invited to ride on the Operation Lifesaver train to observe safety issues on our local railroad. It was a fun trip that allowed me to see a new side of a familiar route. I've traveled the highways between Roanoke and Lynchburg more times than I could ever count, but I've never gone between the two cities by rail. I have traveled the tracks between Bedford and Lynchburg once before, but it was a short excursion and I was only 2 years old. That made Wednesday's journey a whole new experience for me. If you have a chance, look up my story on the trip and check out the video we captured.
In completely unrelated news, I wanted to say how excited I am that Travis Wells is our new sports director. He's a tremendous advocate for our local athletes and I know he'll do a great job continuing News 7's strong coverage of our local teams. I learned about Travis long before I ever knew anyone at News 7 first hand. I was a student at Liberty High School and a manager for the school's basketball team in the mid-90's. During that time, our team won back-to-back state championships. Both years, Travis took News 7 footage he'd shot and put together a tribute video to honor the team. We played those videos over and over on Liberty's closed-circuit TV station in the days after each championship. It was an unselfish act by Travis that helped build pride at my school and it's one of many examples of his dedication to high school athletics. I'm proud to see him carry on the legacy of outstanding sports coverage at my hometown station!
July 9, 2008
Growing up in this area, I have always heard a lot about Hurricane Camille. Every time I ride through Nelson County with my family, my father points out the mountainside near Lovingston where evidence of the storm is still clearly visible. My Mom often shares memories of the storm. Although she was not directly affected by the tragedy, it was a major event in her adolescence - much like recent disasters have been for my generation. She has shown me newspaper clippings she saved from the days following the storm.
When I was informed about a new play at Sweet Briar College chronicling the storm, I found the idea very interesting. The play is called "The Bluest Water: A Hurricane Camille Story," and it's part of the Blue Ridge Summer Theater Festival at Sweet Briar. I had a chance to cover the play this afternoon and I can tell you, from what little I saw today, it's a very emotional performance. The two playwrights who crafted the script interviewed storm survivors and rescue personnel who took part in recovery efforts. They studied the event closely and even collected household pieces from 1969 and before to create a "debris pile," similar to what many in Nelson County saw in the days following the storm.
It's hard to fathom in today's time just how devastating Camille was to Central Virginia. Nearly 30 inches of rain fell in just 6 hours. Most were asleep when the storm came through and had no warning that a flood was coming. 153 people died in one night - a horrific blow to a small, tight knit area like Nelson County.
I think the play will help many, like myself, who weren't around in 1969 when the storm hit, understand the gravity of the Camille tragedy. If you're interested in seeing the play, it will be performed at 7 p.m. July 9, 11, 16, 18, 23 and 25, and 2 p.m. July 13, 20 and 27 in the Murchison Lane Auditorium at Sweet Briar.
June 12, 2008