Week Three At WNDU

From storm damage to more storms, and frustrated Indiana toll road drivers to court cases, week three was no less exciting than weeks one and two.

On Monday, thousands throughout Michiana were still were without power from Friday's storm. Workers from Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio were working to fix power lines and restore power to many who hadn’t seen electricity in three days. After this week and the line of storms we’ve been seeing, I realized just how many storm damage stories can be done. This was one of them.

Before our first interview, we went down the street from the station to where a man was having a large tree taken off his house. It had been on his house all weekend as he struggled to get a permit to have equipment on the street to remove it. Since the government offices were closed over the weekend, he wasn’t able to get one until Monday. At his home, we spoke to the company removing the tree.

Next we headed to Indiana and Michigan Power to talk with a spokesperson from American Electric Power. She informed us of where the power was out, how the workers go about restoring power, and how they decide on who to restore the power to first. She also gave us the location of where workers would be restoring power so we could get some broll.

Before heading to that area, we spoke with an engineer from the county’s engineering department about the permit situation. Then it was back to the broll. In Harters Heights in South Bend, we shot video of workers working on the power lines. To make the story more humanistic we were able to get the family who lived in a nearby house to talk with us. It was funny to hear the four kids who lived there speaking about their view of their lives without power. They had been out that morning watching the workers and even described them as their “superheroes.”

Click here to read “Power still out for thousands three days after storm.”

Tuesday proved to be a busy day. It started out with a drive out to the location where a body had been found Monday afternoon. Since the police weren’t offering any information on the case we needed to find someone else to talk to. After some door-to-door knocking, the reporter, photog and I were finally able to get a man who worked at a nearby business to talk to us. Although, like us, he didn’t have much information, he still provided us with a good community member reaction that we needed. He had been in the area when the body was found, and the body was found right behind the business he worked at. We hurried back to the station to turn a quick vosot for the noon and headed out on our next assignment.

For weeks Indiana drivers have expressed their frustration with the toll road booths and the problems they’ve run into when trying to pass through them. Since the Toll Road Oversight Board was meeting in Elkhart County that afternoon, it was the perfect opportunity to ask them what they were doing about it. Governor Mitch Daniels was also going to be there, so we had the chance to get his angle on the problem. First we headed out to the nearest toll road booth to talk with drivers and get broll. What we ran into was exactly what we had been hearing about: drivers lined up for ten minutes as they battled with the machines that wouldn’t take their money. As we approached the first tollbooth a woman sat in her car yelling at the machine. An attendant on the other line was trying to help her, but the woman’s anger began to rise rapidly as she shouted into the machine “This is very inconvenient. You’re stopping traffic and people have things to do!” Of course thinking like a journalist, I was super excited that we had gotten the perfect nat sound for the package. We walked up and down the road talking with other drivers until it was time to go.

When we got to the meeting at the Indiana State Toll Road Post, I sat with the reporter until it was over and time to go outside to cover the vosot I would be writing.

Outside the Indiana State Police were holding a ceremony to dedicate the its new toll road post to former Senator and police officer Robert L. Meeks. Troopers who worked at the post were lined up and community members gathered around the podium. After a short dedication I joined the other reporters as we formed a circle around the Governor for a quick interview. Once I got what I needed from him the photog and I hurried over to Meeks for a soundbite and a quick chat with him. This only being my third week as an intern, I can’t say that I wasn’t thrilled interviewing the Indiana Governor and a former Senator.

The rest of Tuesday afternoon consisted of writing the vosot and helping out with the web.

Click here to read “Road taking its toll on drivers, Gov. Daniels says it’s ‘better than ever.’”

Click here to read “Indiana State Police dedicate toll road post to former Senator Meeks.”

Click here to read “Body found near Rum Village Park identified.” (Updated since we went out on the story.)

When asked to stay in and help the 11 p.m. producer Wednesday, I thought for sure it would be a pretty uneventful day. Boy was I wrong… At 8:30, just shortly after I had finished writing some vosots for the 11, the reporters, producers, and I gathered around the weather Doppler radar and watched in anticipation as a line of storms began moving towards our viewing area. As I worked on a vosot the meteorologist came out and asked for my help back in the weather lab. My job was to watch as weather reports came out of the printer and let him know if there were any tornados/severe winds that were sweeping through the Chicago land area. This would help us to know what to expect later on in the evening. Back in the newsroom, without hesitation, the producer began sending the reporters and photogs out to where she thought the storms would hit the hardest.

Just like Friday I knew this wasn’t something I wanted to miss. I jumped into the livetruck with a reporter and photog and we headed straight into the dark clouds of the storms. Before we knew it 70 mph winds hit us hard and the rain started pounding down on us. Fearing for our safety (the truck was swaying all over the place) we pulled over into a hotel parking lot and ran inside. There we ran into a bunch of spectators staring out the hotel doors at the storm. Turns out they were the workers who were in town fixing the power lines from Friday’s storm. The photog shot some broll and the reporter did a quick interview and standup. Once the winds began to die down we hopped back into the live truck and drove to a house where a large tree had been ripped out of the ground and fell onto a van, just narrowly missing a house.

By this time it was getting late and we needed to get back to the station so the reporter could turn a quick package. After an interview with a neighbor who had seen the tree fall we ran back to the station. The photog and reporter turned the package and we were back on the road again to do a liveshot at the same location. It took awhile to tune in, but we still were able to get the liveshot up halfway through the newscast. At midnight we were finally able to go home wet, satisfied, and exhausted from the adrenaline rush.

Click here to read “Storms uproot trees in South Bend.”

I’ve always been interested in crime stories so on Thursday when I had the opportunity to attend a court case with a reporter I couldn’t say no. In high school I shadowed a crime reporter from a local newpaper, but this has pretty much been the extent of my exposure to reporting on court cases. I’m really intent on learning how to cover court cases and what a reporter should know when going into them. In this case, the court was having a preliminary exam for a man who had been accused of raping a woman at knifepoint. Unfortunately after waiting around the courthouse for a bit, we got the news the case was being adjourned that day because new police reports were presented. When they do finally decide to hold the preliminary exam, I definitely plan to go with them.

Click here to read “Dowagiac rape suspect’s court date postponed.”

Friday and Saturday turned out to be pretty light days. Friday night I went along on a story about a man who had burned himself while cleaning up sticks and shrubs from Wednesday’s storms. The burns were pretty severe and the family wanted the hospital to keep him overnight because they felt they didn’t have the resources to care for him But according to the family, the hospital refused even though the man is covered by two insurances.

Click here to read “Man burns himself cleaning up storm damage, hospital discharges him.”

On Saturday I was finally able to begin editing my first practice package. As the weeks go on, I’m still looking forward to learning all the basics on Newsedit and then finally honing my skills and techniques of editing. I also hope to work on my writing, voicing, and the overall art of putting together a package.

As far as next week goes, I can’t wait to see what week four has in store for me!


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