Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Countdown Clock Is On

Less than a week to go before our departure to Turin. Time is beginning to move much more quickly now that we have the election and the fall out of a new government out of the way.
I spent a day with our engineering staff getting the gear together and checked out.(Photo: Engineering wiz Yadi B checking over my Camera) I still have a couple of things to get together, but it has put my mind at ease that the bulk of the equipment packing is done. Now to get my personal bag together,,,,,
Recieved word from one of my engineering friends already in Turin working for NBC. He gave me the rundown on what to expect. They got some snow and the temperature has dropped. And here I thought it was going to be warm and sunny,,, oh ya "winter" games. I guess I should have read the fine print. No matter, hopefully my time here in Vancouver hasn't made me into too big a weather wienie.

It had been a good week in the helicopter for my crewmate Pete C. He flew on a chase that ended in gunfire at the Peace Arch Border Crossing. We love that stuff! He was joined in the sky by aircraft from the Seattle TV stations, King 5, KOMO, and KIRO.
The week didn't finish well as there had been some bad Karma in the news room, but with the ringing in of the Chinese Luner New Year perhaps that will pass quickly. This week will see the beginning of the Willy Pickton Trial. He's the guy that has been charged in connection to the Port Coquitlam Pig Farm Murders. It will probibly be the biggest trial that we may ever cover. We are expecting media from around the world for this one.
Court here in Canada can be a bit of a pain to cover visually. Unlike our American cousins, the justice system in Canada does not allow cameras in the courthouse and pictures of an acused are very limited. We have to settle for the brief walk by's of Crown and Defence Lawyers and the ocasional witness. The real work is done by reporters and court artists. I know as I write this one of our reporters is working on her weekend off pouring over a mountian of documents.
This trial promises to go one for months and I am sure that it will affect us all in the news rooms of Vancouver one way or another.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

New Driver

Well election night came and went without many suprises. It seems that we Canadians have a thing for a minority government. Looks like we'll get to do this all over again real soon. Oh Boy!
I got to hang around a Liberal Cabinet Minister's HQ for the night. He won his seat, but he'll be minister of nothing in the new House. The broadcast went as well as any I suppose. It's a lot of waiting around for 4 minutes of fun.

Industry Minister David Emerson
Speaks to Reporters

Yes, the Canadian voter seems to have given the new guy the keys to the car, BUT it looks like they are going to make him put an "L" ( for those of you not from BC, the"L" on the back of a vehicle means "Learner") in the rear window. Yes it seems that Canadians acting like any responsible parent (not the popcorn and beer crowd the Liberals refered to during the campaign) want little Stephen to get some experience "behind" the wheel. I guess the question will be, will he learn the "rules" of the road. Will he be able to handle the "car" in all weather. Or will he go off with his buddies, joyriding around the country side leaving the "car" in the driveway with the gas gauge on "E" like so many "new" drivers.
Of course young Stephen will need to study up as his road test will likely come in 18 months or so. Watch those "right" turns.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

A New Record/Covering Politics

Well, the end of another flight week and wouldn't you know the sun came out the last day. All we needed was some breaking news. It was not to be. I now hold the dubious record for the lowest total for a flight week amongst my flight crew colleagues. 3.3 hours a full .6 lower than the previous record. Beat that Boys!

Monday is election day and my assignment is with a Liberal cabinet minister. Did you ever see a sitting government implode as fast and as quick at Mr. Martin did? I just hope that we park our Sat Trucks outside the "Blast Area" on Monday night.
Funny thing about politics, I hate covering anything the least bit political as the events are usually very predictable and very staged. My favorite political story happened one Sunday afternoon in the early 90's in Fredericton. Our assignment was the New Brunswick PC annual convention. At the time the Conservatives had like 4 seats in the Leg and the leader of the party was some has been Mulroney hack minister that had stated that unless he got a certain percentage leadership confidence vote than he would step down. I think the number was like 70%. Anyway, Mike and I bitched the whole way to the convention center about how dull these things are and how quite frankly people become so mezmorized by politics. We observed a packed convention hall. People all excited and torqued up, having that glazed look in their eyes as if they were about to be absorbed or beamed up to the mothership. It was loud and it was bizarre. Being cynical is part of what make a good journalist and little did we know we were in for a treat on that day.
Most party conventions of that time did not release exact numbers on votes. They liked to spin things that were either "accepted" or "Passed" or "rejected" or "Defeated". The confidence vote had taken place, the tabulation was at the ready, the leader was piped into the head table, the delicates were going nuts, the atmosphere was, well, electric. Our cameras rolled as the Chair took to the podium. I decided to keep my shot on the leader to get his reaction.
He asked for everyone to be seated. It took a minute or two for things to settle down. The anticipation was thick in the air, you could cut it with a knife. I was positioned just a couple of feet from the Leader as he looked on with that typical politicians "smile" you know the one, kinda forced, nervous, you see it on every used car salesman in this country.
The speaker begins, the room is ready to erupt with reckless abandon, with euphoria. He announces 69% confidence, The leader's face changed in that instant, like someone had ripped his life essence from him, and the crowd, well lets just say that the air rushed out of that room so fast that it nearly sucked the ball cap off my head. It was the best political moment of my career. It was the last we heard of former Mulrony cabinet Minister, New Brunswick PC Leader, Bernard Valcourt.

(This shot was from the last Federal Election. Mike Killeen and I were assigned to Burnaby North,,, the show came to us once)

I haven't enjoyed covering federal elections out west. They were much more fun when I worked back east. By the time our national show begins the broadcast out on the west coast (8pm Pacific Time) they have determined a winner. The national analysts are busy figuring what went wrong in Ontario and basically ignore us in the prairies and in the pacific. One thing I am sure of though, the room will no doubt be filled with the believers and they will have that same glazed look only this time I am sure there will be some tears.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Don't Get Me Wrong

I am headed to Turin, Italy next month. It will be my second Winter Olympic Games.
When I was a young lad I always watched the Winter Olympics on TV. I'm sure that my mom would have rathered I be playing outside getting some fresh air or something. But during Olympic time I wanted to watch the drama that was and is the Games. Hockey was my passion. Both me and my younger brother Dan played it. But is wasn't the hockey that was the attraction, it was the other strange winter sports that kept me glued to the TV for those 15 days every 4 years. It was watching bobsledding during the Innsbruk Games (1976) I had decided that being a TV Photographer is what I wanted to be as an adult. The Olympics especially the Winter Games held a special place in young Murman's world and being in Television as a Photographer well that would be my ticket.
I had always thought that TV would get me to a games early in my career. I had been on a short list for crew for Lillihammer in 1994. But as luck would have it, that crew assignment was not to be. No matter.
I was fortunate enough to be in Salt Lake City for the 2002 Games, not as part of a camera crew, but as a spectator. My brother Dan made it happen. He had arranged for us to see 5 hockey games at the "E" Center including 2 mens quarter final games, both mens semi final games and the womens gold medal game. In all we saw Team Canada win against Finland and Belirus and the Canadian women win Gold. Not too bad for my first Olympic appearance. It's hard to put to words the kind of emotion and excietment when your country has just won Olympic Gold in a sport that you have so much passion for, seeing the flag rise, hearing your anthem. Yet while all of this was going on, I noticed a TV Cameraman working the shot and I could not help thinking that I was glad I wasn't in his position. Don't get me wrong, its a privilege to crew these kinds of events, but it was WORK. Watching a game on a 2 inch black and white eyepiece and listening to a director bark in your headset is WORK. Yet here I was watching, cheering in the stands, with a beer, a hotdog and best of all with my brother Dan. I can't think of a better way to have experienced my first Olympics.
Turin will be different, it will be WORK. Don't get me wrong, it is a privilege and I am very excieted. I will be part of a "Non Rights Holder" crew doing what I love to do most, tell visual stories.
God willing, we'll be able to snag a ticket or two and perhaps see Canada win gold on the ice.
I'll blog from the games.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Rain, Rain, Go AWAY!

This is supposed to be a good week. It is a flight week for me, BUT as luck would have it, the weather sucks. Rain makes for messy shooting in the sky. Hell last night we didn't even get into the air because of low cloud.
All of my crewmates look forward to our flight rotations. It's a nice break from routine of daily general assignment shooting. We all love to fly. This has been my first week back since the first of December, because of the holidays, it was just the way it worked out.
The other guys in the flight rotation (there are three of us), didn't exactally score a ton of hours in the air as the weather has been bad for the last month. A 1.1 here, a.3 there, it's a long way away from the golden flight weeks of the summer and fall.
Sitting at the ready at the aerodrome, waiting for the weather to clear and the news to break can make the time go slow. Very slow indeed.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Post #1

Well here I am taking the big plunge into the world of Blogging. The subjects will be many as they relate to my adventures in news gathering.
Hope you enjoy.