Morning musings 9/16/08…

Mexicanos, viva Mexico! Mexican independence from Spain is celebrated today. And no, don’t correct me by saying that Cinco de Mayo is the day. The fight to regain their country began in 1810 on the 16th of September. The new government took power in 1821 after more than ten years of fighting.

But those pesky Europeans weren’t to be kept away that easily…they came back in force (Spaniards, British and French) to collect debts (and land if they could grab it). Cinco de Mayo celebrates a victory against the French forces, which did not accept warrants guaranteeing eventual repayment.

Enough history for now. I’ve been collecting ideas and scraps of newspaper (yeah…I am one of those) that have tickled my mind. It’s time to bring them out for exposure and discussion. If the first segment dithers on, here’s what will crawl across your retina this morning:
*remedial classes for entering college freshmen
*support my favorite author
*a weighty issue regarding VJ gear

“College spend billions to prep freshmen.” That’s a headline in my local rag over an AP story. Now there’s a story worthy of any high school paper…and it can be localized easily. Students graduating from high schools with high grades who need to take remedial courses. Who’s at fault for students not learning? First off – I heartily commend the colleges for refusing to lower their standards. If a student can’t hack it, they should not take full college fare. Remedial classes help them catch up.

Now the snipe hunt begins. Let’s blame the high school teachers – they were the last to have hands on and pass these kids. Oops…but the high school teachers say they’re getting kids out of middle schools who are unprepared. And the finger-pointing goes all the way down the path, including uninvolved parents and society in general.

Take a look around at your school or school district. Find out how many of your local college-bound students hit the hard wall of reality and have to take remedial courses just to understand and pass those regular classes. Is grade inflation at the high school level to blame…poor teaching…poor communication of what colleges expect? Let me know when you get the story.

Ever diverging and crossing paths. 1974 – I land my first job as a TV news photog and get the night shift and reporter Joann Lee. One intense year for both of us in the trenches…she with at least two or three more months on the job than me. We developed the kind of bond that can last a life-time, based on our unique status as only cameraWOman and Asian in our jobs at that time in the Northern California region.

In Sunday’s SF Chronicle (9/14/08) there’s a review of her second book, written in a style she excels at – the interview. “Asian Americans in the Twenty-First Century.” Haven’t read it yet, but will always support my local (or very distance yet close) author.

Head scratcher: why are TV stations converting photogs to VJs and hiring new folks as VJs and MAKING THEM DO THE SAME DAMN JOB THEY DO ALREADY? Plus, of course, more. Got this from perusing numerous job sites.

Newspapers have it right to some extent. Videojournalism is all about being portable and being able to shoot and produce on your own.

Broadcasters are sending their crew (or is it person now?) out with the live truck, the twenty or thirty pound camera with heavy tripod, light kit. The works. Why?

In the 1970s a cameraman shot with a reporter…sometimes they were lucky and had a sound person. With live trucks came engineers (bless them).

Well some smartie figures out that cameramen could run live trucks. Ouch. Job pressure and danger increased…all that running back and forth between live shot and truck. One station (KXTV) lost a fine photojournalist – Dick Terry when in the rush between truck and shot he fell and impaled a stake through his eye. Trooper that he was, he did the live shot and THEN went on for medical care. He didn’t make it.

Now the job of reporting and shooting and editing and running the live truck all fall on one person.

Come on – just give us (well, really your employees) a break. Quit living in a world where you have to impress folks with the size and cost of your gear and look at quality and weight and portability. You may be surprised at the results. Happy people work harder.

Oh – and rethink that live truck policy too.

Uh-oh. 6:25am and time to skedaddle to school. But before I go – why the heck am I getting so many hits for folks looking up “three daughters” online? Baffling. If you’re one of them, let me know.

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