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Fresh off the heels of working for a media startup, I joined the news team at WVLA/WGMB-TV, the Nexstar-operated affiliates for NBC and Fox in Baton Rouge, LA.
"Dirty River Levee" (2013)
The canary in the coal mine, I was interviewed by Kris Kusanza while taking in some air after class, not knowing I’d work for that very same station exactly three years later—my first assignment, right over my shoulder.
I started as a “photog” on Independence Day 2016, doing live shots with reporter Mary Mueller (“muller”) at the annual event on the Mississippi River levee downtown. Early that next morning, Alton Sterling was shot to death by officers of the Baton Rouge Police Department, while twelve days later, Gavin Long murdered three local policemen in response. I was there front and center as Local 33’s nightside (evening) photojournalist, capturing the protests, press conferences, police tributes and more across the Baton Rouge area.
Baton Rouge Responds to Alton Sterling
I recorded this M.O.S.—man on the street—with reporter Lucy Hayes, collecting local feedback on the shooting death of “CD Man” Alton Sterling at the Triple S Food Mart on N. Foster Drive in North Baton Rouge.
What to Do When Stopped by Police
A “look-live” is a pre-recorded package edited and worded to mock a live report. I shot this story in the station’s parking lot with then-morning anchor Deedra Wilson, as she offered tips on what to do in a traffic stop.
NAACP Rally for Alton Sterling
Lucy Hayes reports on the NAACP rally at City Hall after the shooting death of Alton Sterling.
Baton Rouge Police Shooting Timeline
Still reeling from the wall-to-wall coverage of Alton Sterling and the ensuing protests, all hands were on deck once again to cover the slain officers. A personal favorite, this was my first time getting to work with Miss Jeanne Burns, someone I’ve been a fan of since moving to Baton Rouge after Katrina.
Car Shooting in North Baton Rouge
A brief voice-over about a drive-by shooting in North Baton Rouge. Rachel Spangenthal anchors.
News footage on "The Rachel Maddow Show" (MSNBC)
WVLA Local 33 is an NBC affiliate, so much of the footage would turn up on the larger NBC networks as part of the national coverage; this in response to a failed attempt to attack local police officers after the shooting death of Alton Sterling.
Governor John Bel Edwards Briefing
This voice-over is about a thwarted attempt to kill local police officers following the shooting death of Alton Sterling. Miss Jeanne Burns anchors.
BRPD Residency Ordinance Fails
Deliberate confusion on the agenda of the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council led to the inevitable failure of an ordinace to require BRPD officers to live within city limits. Rachel Spangenthal reports.
OMG, JOHN SCHNEIDER!!!
A VOSOT (“voh-sott,” voice-over/sound on tape) makes up the majority of what you see on local news; the anchor introduces the story, video starts playing as they continue reading and it cuts to sound from the actual story. After a long day of filming the political spat above, I got a text from our station’s executive producer that “John Snyder” was filming a movie at Juban Crossing in Denham Springs. Drained, I dropped off my reporter for the evening, grabbed a bite to eat and went to the assignment.
Little did I know that “John Snyder” was John Schneider, one of my favorite actors from one of my all-time favorite shows, “The Haves and the Have Nots!”
Staying professional while totally geeking out on the inside, I filmed the above VOSOT featuring the Louisiana local, as well as Austin St. John, the original red Power Ranger, on the set of their movie Tres Leches.
Louisiana Food Stamp Requirement Laws
My second-ever story for WVLA/WGMB, Mary Mueller reports on new jobs requirements for food stamp recipients in Louisiana.
Alton Sterling Vigil
Fred Hickman anchors about a tribute to Alton Sterling one month after his shooting death.
Gov. Edwards Addresses the Southern Baptist Convention
One of my final shoots, this video shows why my live hits were popular among the news staff. Coming from a background outside of news, I’m trained to keep my camera at least ten feet away from my talent, as this gives a them a more natural and flattering look. I’d then perform a gradual bump in (zoom in) as they begin speaking, something usually seen on network and cable news.
Outside duties called for a change in position from photog to Production Assistant (P.A.) running TelePrompTer for the evening news. This lasted for about six weeks during the Rio Olympics and the August 2016 flood. But due to freelance opportunities and “MyScene TV” returning to air, I made a third move to Graphics Operator for the weekend broadcasts, becoming a fill-in for the morning and evening programs while being proven enough to train new hires on all of the production equipment.
The newscasts at WVLA/WGMB made use of PLAZes—full-screen graphics displayed on the plasma TV in studio—as well as OTS (over-the-shoulder) graphics superimposed. I’ve designed nearly 200 PLAZ and OTS graphics in less than two years.
My time at NBC Local 33 and Fox 44 continued my “fan-to-man” streak—that is, going from being a fan of a person, show or concept to being someone who is now in it. Growing up, I was always a fan of news production, wondering what all went into assembling a local broadcast. Now I finally got to see it firsthand, applying what I learned to my own productions.
I resigned from NBC Local 33 on March 5, 2018 to move to Houston, in which I was granted the opportunity to do a feature story. Using my own equipment, I interviewed Rebecca Whyte, Baton Rouge Community Manager for Yelp.com and a friend of the station. The feature received high praise from my colleagues as well as other journalists across my social media, due to its copy (script), subject matter, composition and the intonation of my voice.
Baton Rouge Proud – Rebecca Whyte
Published on brproud.com, the story aired March 18, 2018 at the top of the 10 P.M. show, my final newscast at WVLA.