I felt the earth move: Covering a historic natural disaster

Aug. 23, 2011. Five years ago, I was eating a snack in my car in the parking lot of the Charlottesville Harris Teeter when I felt a small rumble. I looked at the older woman in the parking spot across from me, and she appeared to have no reaction.

I looked across the street and saw the window panels on a building shake.

Did I just feel an earthquake? Nah. It’s Central Virginia. Psh.

I opened up Twitter and saw lots of locals questioning what just happened. And I shared my thoughts.

Then I got a text from a friend.

“Are you alive?”

That followed a text from my brother.

“Are you near that earthquake?”

Apparently, yes. Yes I was.

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Reporting live: Putting together a résumé tape

That’s my new résumé tape. Demo reel. Reporter showcase.

There’s something I learned from years of producing résumé tapes. There’s no perfect résumé tape.

Maybe there’s a perfect résumé tape in the mind of a potential employer. But his or her version of a perfect résumé tape could be the complete opposite of the competitor’s version of a perfect résumé tape across town. It’s impossible to please everybody.

But I’m confident this will please somebody.

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Trial Circumstances: Covering the Randy Taylor Murder Trial


On May 1, the murder trial began for Randy Taylor, the man charged in the abduction and murder of 17-year-old Alexis Murphy in Nelson County, Va.

My station decided to have many reporters cover this trial, since many people had a role in covering this story since Alexis’ disappearance in August 2013. Alexis is still missing, and there’s no evidence of her death, but prosecutors chose to proceed with a murder charge in a completely circumstantial case.

I covered Days 4 and 5 of this trial. I’ve learned in covering a number of court cases that every judge runs the court differently. Here, as has become a trend in Central Virginia, phones need to be turned off in the courtroom. The judge would not allow anyone to leave the courtroom unless there was a break. He would not allow anyone to enter the courtroom until there was a break. It was a tight ship, and in television news, that’s not convenient.

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Snow-go on Route 29: Snow Reporting Guide


Reporting on snow doesn’t really get easier.

It’s fun to tell the snow stories. It’s not as fun to be out in the ~32-degree weather all day long. (Although, in hindsight, it is.)

This week, the first major storm of the winter hit Central Virginia. Snow accumulation was inches less than what was anticipated, but the impact was still great.

On top of the couple inches, the temperatures over the coming days would border freezing — making overnight lows in the low teens or single digits. Therefore, anything that would stick would likely freeze.

Of course, the average viewer may already know this. So to make a standup as engaging as possible… what to do?

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High-profile family tragedy: reporting on a state senator’s stabbing

I almost called out sick on Tuesday.

On Monday night, I was congested. I felt hot. I was run down. I wasn’t feeling it. But on Tuesday, I was much less sluggish. And, my hot water heater malfunctioned. Nothing like a cold shower to get you going.

I was on my way to work when I got a phone call — “Creigh Deeds has been stabbed.”

Then, I was truly awake.

It took me a second to process that. A colleague had been communicating with our state senator of Virginia’s 25th District in the days prior about doing an interview regarding the recent statewide elections. She was going to pass over his info to me so I could contact him for a story on Tuesday.

That same Creigh Deeds?

I got to work and was charged with updating our social media. Typing the words was surreal.

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Introducing Virginia’s next governor to viewers

Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe thanks his supporters at a campaign party in Tysons Corner, Va., on Nov. 5, 2013.

Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe thanks his supporters at a campaign party in Tysons Corner, Va., on Nov. 5, 2013.

It was like a repeat of Nov. 6, 2012. Just a different candidate in a different Virginia city.

The setup at gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe’s campaign party in Tysons Corner, Va., reminded me a lot of covering Tim Kaine’s party in Richmond last year. However, this year, things became a bit more hectic.

First of all, my station held an election special from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., so that was an additional two liveshots from the party, on top of my 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. hit. Around 9:30, I began gearing up for the 10 p.m. hit. I interviewed Virginia’s House Minority Leader, cut a soundbite and began sending it back to the station. I wrote some bullet points in my notebook that I wanted to touch on in my liveshot. I dabbed some makeup on my cheek to cover up a razor nick from shaving earlier in the morning.

Around 9:50, I tweeted the following:

Live report on WAHU FOX27 in 10 minutes from #McAuliffe HQ. Lots can happen in 10 minutes. #VAGov

I jinxed it.

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Freedom of Information Act: Gift or nuisance?

A new article from the Washington Post says the drama between University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan and Rector Helen Dragas has far from passed.

The article, wonderfully written by Jenna Johnson, suggests a “struggle for control of the university’s agenda and priorities” continues behind the scenes, as evidenced by numerous emails obtained by the Washington Post.

The emails show Dragas sent Sullivan a list of 65 goals to achieve before the end of the school year, something Sullivan contested as being unrealistic. Sullivan suggested this in an email to the university’s governing body, the Board of Visitors.

“I am not averse to stretch goals,” Sullivan said in emails, according to the article, “but I also do not care to be set up to fail.”

The article goes on to ask one of the Board of Visitors’ newest members his thoughts on the tension. According to the article, Richmond businessman Willam H. Goodwin was “angry that the internal e-mail was shared with The Post and argued that the news media should not report on issues that cast U-Va. in a poor light. He said there is no tension between the board and the administration.”

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