Thursday, November 20, 2008

How to Get on TV

I try to use my feature reporting powers for good, not evil.

To discourage reckless behavior.

If someone's attempting something dangerous, perhaps we might videotape it. But, as you know, the camera makes people do things, and we don't want them to do it because of us. (For the record, I didn't ask the then-mayor of Springville to hot dog it on his motorcycle in his fine Italian suit on his driving range and, anyway, he was in reconstructive surgery for only four hours. But that's another story.)

One big snowstorm many snowstorms ago, photographer Charlie Ehlert and I were producing one of those stories that informs the public that snow has fallen. So much had fallen, in fact, that snowboarders waiting at a bus stop in the Fort Union neighborhood couldn't get to the ski areas because public transportation was immobilized.

So we interviewed them.

And then one asked if we wanted him to jump off the roof.

We said, ‘no.’

He meant snowboarding off the roof of the restaurant next to the bus stop.

We said, ‘no, don't do that.’

We bid them farewell and crossed the street to take pictures of cars slogging through the snow and slush. Five minutes later, we heard someone yelling at us.

It was the snowboarder. On the roof.

Ehlert instinctively turned his camera in his direction and rolled tape.

The roofboarder slid off the restaurant and disappeared in a puff of snow.

Back at the TV station, the raw tape changed hands and was fed (by satellite uplink) to the network (at the time, NBC), which aired it during its evening newscast.

He jumped off a roof and went national.

So my point is-


I'm not sure what my point is.

My point is, if you're going to try to hurt yourself, please don't do it when I'm around.

The news crews might show up later.

They call that "breaking news."

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