In the age of the viral video, the OU sorority girl, who recorded and leaked the SAE video was no novice. Sure, the 9-second clip was shaky and shot off a cell phone, but the fact that she recorded it and released it is turning heads. The racist chant sung by members of OU’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter was the last unified event the fraternity would ever do, all because the incendiary video was leaked to the world. And it didn’t take long for the vid to end up on multiple social media platforms, including Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

It definitely changed the course of my day, when I had to drop the deadly officer-involved shooting I was covering to rush out to the University of Oklahoma campus to interview students for KWTV’s 10pm newscast. I ended up staying out there well passed midnight as the frat was kicked out of their house. And as the only professional journalist nearby at the time, I got an eyeful from the packing to the police protection, to the vandalism on the frat house.

My tweets with photos were even featured in a Washington Post article:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/03/09/university-of-oklahoma-fraternity-suspended-after-racist-chant/

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With the amazing opportunities as a new reporter, you almost never know who you’re going to interview next.
The along came the chance to meet with civil rights pioneers Claudette Colvin and Fred Gray. I’d heard of both their stories before, but never knew their names or their connection.

Before Rosa Parks, there was 15-year-old Colvin, who refused to give her seat on a segregated bus in March 1955 (Rosa did the same in Dec. 1955). Colvin was arrested for civil disobedience and her attorney was Fred Gray. They eventually won their case, and Gray went on to represent Dr. Martin Luther King and took on several groundbreaking cases. Gray is featured in the Oscar-nominated film “Selma,” and is portrayed by Cuba Gooding Jr.
There really is not enough room to write all their accolades. But I tried to capture in a one minute and 30 seconds, the essence of their historical impact as the two made a stop in Oklahoma to speak at Oklahoma Christian University in honor of Black History Month.

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Moving to the state of Oklahoma to report the news, I got a rude awakening of just how life-changing the weather can be. Growing up in Georgia, I’ve experienced tornadoes before but certainly nothing like the historic ones that hit the state of Oklahoma in May 2013. For a while it was like they didn’t stop. I covered my first one on May 19th in Carney, Oklahoma, which was devastated small town, where I interviewed a woman who pulled from rubble. I was in the city of Shawnee the next day for coverage of the same tornado that destroyed homes there. And while back at my news station, the big one struck. It was late afternoon on May 20th. Our meteorologists kept talking of more twisters to come, but the day was sunny and hadn’t the state suffered enough already?
Well apparently not, since the sky turned black out of no where, and it began to rain and hail and sirens went off. Then it happened, we’re watching storm chasers on live broadcast track the tornado that wiped out two elementary schools in Moore killing 7 children.

I had never seen anything like it. I heard Moore was “Tornado Alley” since it experienced several tornados in the last two decades, but like lighting, you rarely think it’ll strike the same place twice. Then the widest tornado recorded hit El Reno, Oklahoma on May 31st. And this one destroyed a vocational school, farms and even killed a National Geographic storm chaser. I was covering this storm for weeks, since sadly that’s how long it took for rescuers to find bodies of a couple families that took refuge in sewer drains in Oklahoma City. The waters got so high, did a flash flood, and these two families with very little children were washed away. Many of the families still survived, but babies died.
Again, nothing like I had ever seen before or imagined.

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Working the Weekends

They call it paying your dues and missing out on Saturday and Sunday are a part of the costs. I knew it was too good to be true to start off at a station and get Christmas and New Year’s day off. So a month later, all that changed. Our station’s weekend reporter moved away, and I moved into his slot like a game of Correspondent Checkers.
Now, I’m the one covering the dog shows, park picnics and high school quiz bowls when there’s no breaking news.
So there’s no more sleeping in on Saturdays or going to church on Sundays. My new days off are Monday and Tuesday, conveniently, when everyone else is at work or school.
But this new shift is not all bad, there are two sides…

PROS TO WORKING WKNDS:
-Laid back atmosphere, no traffic
-Less live shots and demands
-Stories are assigned beforehand

CONS TO WORKING WKNDS:
-The obvious of being on when the rest of civilization is off
-No assignment desk, so have to answer phones & listen to scanners
-Short-staffed, so I’m treated like a photog who shoots multiple events

Broadcasting in Bakersfield

I said so long to Los Angeles and drove up the 5 freeway to Bakersfield. And what an experience it has been reporting for Ch. 17. My day goes by so fast, if my stories weren’t recorded, I wouldn’t know what I reported.

The types of stories I cover in Kern County vary so much, many deal with agriculture, education and pedestrian vs. vehicle accidents. I haven’t interviewed a politician yet, while I remember interviewing the mayor and city council members all the time in LA. Like any good local news story, my goal is to take a major issue or topic and personalize it for Bakersfield, which is no easy feat, especially, when covering a story about welfare or longterm unemployment.

Starting out at KGET has definitely been an experience. No two days are alike. It can be a challenge to learn my way around town in a matter of minutes for a live shot or an interview, especially, when the person I’m meeting tells me to meet them off Highway 184 near the grape trees -_-

So I’m jumping all over the learning curve here and working to be a better reporter each week.

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