The real fourth estate

When you are watching CBC or any other news, are you sometimes bored? Have you ever had a small, harmless thought that this coverage conveys nothing? A friend of mine once said “Oh, come on, If I were a journalist, I would be at least like Terry Milewsky! “.

I remember a day, it was maybe a year ago, when Toronto was so snowy and freezing,. I was watching TV and a journalist was covering the weather conditions at that time. She was, literally, running somewhere around the Dundas and Young intersection, accosting anyone who was near her, and asking a quick question: “How do you feel right now, is it cold?” Everyone answered, like a mantra, “Yes, it is very cold today”… The amount of steam coming from their mouth affirmed coldness. That was her coverage. “Poor one” – I said to myself and recalled my own TV experience…

My first work in TV was in Poznan, Poland. I was 20 years old, and I was pretty sure that journalism is my life’s path. The first day at the new job is always stressful; no matter where you work – my first day was not only nerve-wracking, but also incredible.

“Today we have lots of interesting topics to cover” – our editor started, and then he itemized our topics for the day – “Firstly, unhappy tenants in the housing estate; secondly, conflict between bicyclists and drivers – there are probably some road condition problems” – he added – “thirdly, someone has to go to Ministry of Environment and check the next rain forecast, and finally, reportedly, there are lots of mushrooms in the local forest. The mushrooming coverage!

“Aaand, where are these interesting topics???” – I asked myself – “Any political altercations? Important economical changes? Even, accidents…? Or just a small conference..?” No, nothing like that. While I was waiting for any interesting coverage, the one from the above was waiting for me.

I got the “mushroom” story to cover.  My entire way there, I was convincing myself that mushrooming-picking is a very, very interesting topic – one would even say it is fascinating!

“I like it” – I said to my cameraman – “Everyone likes picking mushroom, especially when the weather is enjoyable, right?” He just looked at me like at a crazy girl when I said that – just only things missing were pigtails and lollipop.

When we got to this, alleged “Mushroom Kingdom”, we noticed that there were no mushrooms… Not even one. Nothing! Kingdom collapsed. Or, what was more probable, mushrooms had recently been picked by people. They evidently stole, or maybe, grabbed my coverage! Obviously, we did not have enough time to go around the forest finding mushrooms.

Fortunately, my cameraman came up with a plan. In all seriousness, we went to the closest grocery store and we bought real mushrooms. We put them randomly around the forest, my friend did a couple of camera shots, and we came back to the studio. The coverage was done in time.

What about the people who went there next day? Hmm, will you ever think that any coverage is weak?

A.

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