Out In The Field:
Why Breaking News Shouldn’t Always Come First
Written by News Gal
🕒 February 21, 2018
It’s a Tuesday afternoon, and my photographer and I have been out in the summer heat all day.
We’ve been knocking on doors, standing behind crime scene tape, and making sure we have sent in tease video and social media updates to appease the bosses.
We’re sweating through our clothing and my hair is curly now because I’m so warm. I worry I might pass out. So does my co-worker.
Plus, we haven’t had the chance to use a bathroom or eat.
We’ve already finished the three bottles of water that we had in the live truck. We can’t sit in the air conditioned truck because we had to park too far away from the scene. Management says we can’t miss anything that happens.
This is a daily struggle for some of us in the TV news business, and it’s dangerous.
My company schedules us for nine hour shifts. One hour is for lunch. We are supposed to get one hour a day where we can sit down, eat, go to the bathroom, and catch our breath.
I can count on one hand how many times I’ve had a lunch break.
Most of the reporters at my station would put on our timesheets that we took an hour-long break every day. It was almost always a lie, but we thought it was what we were supposed to do.
Our bosses never questioned it.
Finally, I realized I shouldn’t be lying. I needed to let management know I wasn’t getting a break. We all needed to let management know we weren’t getting breaks. We started filling out our timesheets honestly.
Our bosses questioned it every single time.
One boss told me to “shove a granola bar” in my mouth. Another said we all need to manage our time better.
It’s impossible to take a break when you’re expected to turn two, three, or four different stories a day on top of live shots at Noon, 5pm, 6pm, and 7pm.
There’s no bathroom in a live truck. Even if I pack food and bring it with me sometimes the scene we are at doesn’t allow for me to even eat a cracker, let alone an entire granola bar!
It’s not healthy to go all day without food. It’s not healthy to not use the bathroom all day.
Managers, producers, and assignment editors need to realize that those of us out in the field don’t have the luxuries of newsroom life. There’s no bathroom at a murder scene. There’s no place to eat at a house fire.
Even putting down 5 hours of overtime a week hasn’t made things better where I am. The bosses complain about the money, but they keep pushing us to do more each day.
Do your best to take care of yourself. Pack snacks and water every day.
Always remember that your health and safety are more important than any news story you are chasing.
One of the only reasons my photographer and I didn’t pass out that hot summer day is that a photographer from a competing station showed up with water just before our 5pm live shot. It was the best water I’ve ever tasted.