We need to talk about guns: Why I stopped watching the news

Yesterday a reporter was shot. Live on Camera.

The studio host reacting to live events: aka her colleague getting shot live on air

The studio host reacting to live events: aka her colleague getting shot live on air

The internet was exploding with screen grabs, articles, posts from people, THE VIDEO. The video of the asshole who shot that Reporter Alison Parker and her Cameraman, Adam Ward.
And then! before he was caught, the shooter posted the Video of him attacking those poor people from his go-pro on Twitter….

What do you say? What is there to say when someone is shot and murdered, live on Television? Or in a mass school shooting? Or in a bank for money, or because of drugs… or what EVER?! What do you say when there are these pain inflicting, life ending objects called guns and people use them to kill/intimidate/make a point/grab a moment of media attention out in the world, and every day there seems to be another report of such and such violence and fear and death?

At the end of last year, like most Australians abroad and at home, I was glued to the Television and Radio because an insane person took hostages at a Cafe in Sydney, my former home town. I was shocked and horrified, as we all were as a nation… only to discover that my (pregnant) cousin Julie was one of those 18 hostages.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 15:  People run with there hands up from the Lindt Cafe, Martin Place during a hostage standoff on December 15, 2014 in Sydney, Australia.  Police stormed the Sydney cafe as a gunman has been holding hostages.  (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 15: Julie Taylor runs  from the Lindt Cafe, Martin Place during a hostage standoff on December 15, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Police stormed the Sydney cafe as a gunman has been holding hostages. (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images)

I cannot describe how your feeling of fear and sadness and general “that is horrible”- ness, suddenly slides into panic. The TV, the news, it becomes your only lifeline to unfolding events as you try to understand:

Why is this happening?

Why is it that every time I read the news there is always, somewhere, someone, who bought a gun and used it on somebody else.

And why are we surprised?

I’m not pointing the finger at America, but it does seem to be the country who advocates the most for their right to own a gun, to have a gun in their car or out in public.

And every time someone is murdered, in a church or school or on live TV, those NRA fuckers put out some fantastical one liner like: “Gun’s don’t kill people, people kill people.” Or they use a mass shooting as an example like: “well see now… if we had more guns, none of this would have happened.”

LIGHTBULB: Lets all get guns to protect ourselves against those people who already have guns. And then maybe we should think about getting mini-guns for our guns, because what if those other peoples guns try to attack our guns. HOW ARE OUR GUNS GOING TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM OTHER GUNS?! Are you a Patriot?! DON’T YOU WANT TO BE SAFE?!

It’s gotten to the point where I just can’t watch the news anymore. I’ll read the headline, I’ll be informed. But I can’t watch another reporter talk to local eye witnesses, or muse on why this has happened. I can’t hear that everybody in the community is devastated and asking themselves… why, WHY?

We know the reason. Every time it’s the same.

Guns.

I don’t care about why the shooter did it.

So many statements, so many people feeling heard at the end of a Gun.

I care about the people, and the families torn apart (like Katrina Dawson, my cousins friend and former bridesmaid who died on the scene in that cafe in Sydney and left behind 3 small children), the communities who are still rocked, the people who now live in fear.

How did the reporters feel yesterday, reporting on the reporter who was shot?

I can’t bear to watch the segments, the speculation, the talking heads. I just can’t.

As a former reporter my goosebumps rose, as a fellow human being, my heart hurt.

It feels like a waiting game, where will the next psycho with a gun go off?

And what are we going to do about it?

Someone hated on me on Twitter…So I’m big time now. AKA Outta my way peasants

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When I’m not receiving packages, making coffee’s or answering phones  9-5, I’m out in the world trying to make my parents proud (and draw as much attention to myself as physically possible).

Sometimes my attention seeking takes the form of some volunteer reporting.

Oh boy, I’ve covered some of the biggest stories in volunteer journalism history, Indoor Volleyball courts, School Marathons, knitting clubs, rotary auctions, Panda exhibits… If it’s local and it’s community, your friendly neighborhood Foreign Correspondent will be there.

Knitters night out

Knitters night out

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Indoor Volleyball court

Santa

Santa

Usually the shoots are last minute and my preparation involves a five minute Google search and then a 20 minute mental scroll through my (limited) wardrobe, followed by a 20 minute argument with myself over what to to wear. There is not always a lot you can prepare for, for some of these events, often there is no more than a sentence online, outlining where and when and some variation of “come on dowwwwwwwn folks”.

As much as I tease, community events are really fun. People are eager to talk to you, and nobody has an ego (except for my VERY first ever interview on camera where an unexpected Z List “celebrity” chef was in attendance and tried to draw attention away from the kids at the fundraiser we were at – turns out he was AWFUL on camera and his PR pitbull was such a cow, she totally had me shaking with nerves and I fucked up tonnes of questions. As soon as he left we re-shot the whole thing again). People are usually just so happy that we came out and are shining a life (however small) on their achievements.

I don’t take myself very seriously during interviews (playing the dumb, blonde Australian works for me) but I treat the people I talk to with the respect they deserve. Okay maybe I’M not personally passionate about miniature trains or don’t know that much about the South Indian dance community, but there are people out there where that is a big part of their LIFE. And I think that’s pretty rad, frankly.

Interview about a new Zoo app - Toronto Zoo

Interview about a new Zoo app – Toronto Zoo

 

Ice Skating event Finalist

Ice Skating event Finalist

South Indian Fundraiser

South Indian Fundraiser

Live Rotary Auction

Live Rotary Auction

So it was with this attitude last Sunday, that I headed out to cover the East End Easter Parade. It is what it sounds like, a local parade with people from the community marching, with floats, and an appearance by the holidays finest representative, The Easter Bunny. I wasn’t really given much information outside of where to be and when. I hadn’t worked with this particular producer before, but I knew I would be out in the crowd grabbing sound bites from the audience when we took quick breaks from the coverage. I’m friendly and generally like things like parades! So off I went. No biggie.

When I arrived at the live-eye van, which had all sorts of wires coming out of it, I finally met a fellow reporter, Amy, for the first time. We are facebook friends and I’ve seen her perky self on the channel a bunch of times, but we had never actually met in person. She was going to give live blow-by-blows of the parade with a Canadian Olympic medalist….

Except he never showed.

Or actually he did. We spotted him waving to the crowd, perched in an open top car about an hour into our coverage. I began in the crowd but was quickly drafted to the booth to work with Amy narrating the parade. That’s a tough gig to do solo. And we had fun with it. We cracked jokes, I played the dumb blonde, we threw some cheesy stuff in there. Amy is smart, outgoing and way better at Twitter and social media engagement than I am (I can do social media when it doesn’t involve me – I used to be social media coordinator for an Australian reality show but I find it awkward to tweet about myself). Amy was tweeting some during the parade.

And then we both experienced something for the very first time… we got our first Twitter hater!

The tweet has been taken down or I’m just that bad at Twitter now that I can’t find it but the original nastiness read:

@Quick_A @ohparis Talk less and do your research next time. My ears are bleeding from listening to your useless banter. #knuckleheads

I think as far as twitter rage goes, we got off pretty lightly.

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Amy engaged with this “Mark E” person, but I was busy Sunday night making questionable decisions and getting up to other knucklehead like antics.

Upon further snooping of this bastion of philosophy and helpful “constructive criticism” twitter feed I found the following:

all I’ve learned by watching you is where to sell my jewelry, how to contact a lawyer and that the weather sucks. Thanks
@Thirteenmark13, April 8th (For those of you that don’t know – CP24 is another news source)

I suppose it is safe to say that it is not just my fellow wanna-be reporter and I who have offended the truly discerning sensibilities of this internet troll.

Well to each their own. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

And mine is this: I strive to do my best in any and all undertakings. Rather than sitting on my couch tweeting at young reporters-in-training, I was actually at a lovely community parade, reporting on it. Quipping lame jokes, mingling with the community, and hopefully learning more and more about live TV.

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Anyone can take a pot shot at someone else from behind the anonymity of the internet, it takes courage and guts to put yourself out there – ESPECIALLY on live Television, and not for a second am I not proud of what I have achieved in the last 18 months since that fateful first, terrible interview.

Yup, I say inane, bantery-type bullshit, and yup, I come across as ditzy, maybe even a knucklehead on camera. People LOVE being interviewed by me and I LOVE learning about them and their interests and what makes them tick. People are fascinating.

Even the trolls I guess.

And you know what this means now right?! I’m famous enough to have my first hater! Obscurity here I don’t. I need to get all new friends and all new clothes.

Catch you at the Pulitzer’s ThirteenMark13… oh no wait… I won’t.

Peace, love and Knuckleheadery

Peace, love and Knuckleheadery

 

Bullshit Express

I realize that a lot of my blog posts contain wisdom from my Mum. Every time I do it I feel like singing Mama Say’s from Footloose.

I can’t help it. My Mama is a smart lady who pontificates wisdom even from afar. And one thing she has begun to say in recent years, as I have languished and moaned and sighed and swooned about why my career hasn’t taken off RIGHT NOW WHEN I STAMPED MY FOOT AND SHOOK MY FISTS…

 

 

angry grumpy old man shaking his fist at the world

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Is:

“Fake it til you make it.”

Now, she wasn’t talking in the bedroom, get your minds out of the gutter, she was speaking more I think about life and careers and such. I think. Sometimes her wisdom is loose and malleable to many and all (sometimes contradictory) instances.

But anyway.

Recently I’ve been interning at a place called Rogers TV over here in Toronto. It’s like Foxtel in Australia or Star TV in Hong Kong. They are a cable provider, but they also have their community channels and local programming. As a result of being a big personality, blonde, Australian anomaly (and not half bad at public speaking I suppose) and being around the studio two days a week, I was offered the opportunity to audition for a role as community reporter.

So I went along to the audition, finding it hard to take the whole thing seriously as I was being screened by the Producer and Director of the morning show I intern on and had to fake interview another Producer I was chummy with and pretend we were at an Oktoberfest thing.

The whole thing was a trip into randomness. But it was fun. And they chose me and another girl out of six female audition participants to get our reporter on. So woooh us.

Since then I have probably shot 7 or 8 segments for Daytime Toronto and two Segments for Toronto Speaks. I never know when they are going to air (I honestly think the Producer kind of figures it out last minute) and it is always fun when someone mentions they saw me, or when I go in to work on Daytime and realize they are rolling something I shot.

Keep in mind that I do all of this UNPAID in the hopes that it will lead to that amazing J-bomb of a word…

A Job.

oh-get-a-job-charlie-day

I’m just like the rest of the underpaid (read: Not Paid) over worked, underfed (pahhhhahaha if only) interns out there.

The difference is on occasion I get to hold a Red microphone (which is usually scratched up to shit) and plaster on my biggest ditzy smile and have a cameraperson (usually a big burly dude named Ken who I secretly adore) follow me around to different local community events.

And wow you should see how people react.

Nobody has ever heard of me.

Nobody recognizes me.

Everybody loves me.

It’s amazing what an aura of pretend control, a microphone and a clipboard full of realease forms can do.

Mostly I just pretend that I’ve done this reporting thing a million times. I throw words like “shoot” and “Mike check” around and people are putty in my hands. The first time I ever went on a Rogers shoot (because the way it works over at Rogers TV is they are like: “Oh you’ve never actually interviewed anyone on camera before? That’s okay, go do it right now) Ken asked me if I’d done this sort of thing before, and I snorted and was like DUH. Ken. God. Get with the program. But my hands were shaking like I had had 15 cups of coffee. And I messed up 2 takes. AND it is possibly one of the worst/most awkward interviews you have ever seen in your life.

Fake it til you make it.

But if anyone every asked, I would come straight out and say it. I do this for FREE because it’s great experience and also it’s FUN and also sometimes there are free sandwiches (once. once there were free sandwiches. And it was glorious. And I ate loads. And Ken and I got to take some home.)

Yes. I tweet and Instagram and Facebook a lot of shit about the TV thing. I’m trying to build something like an online persona. But I’m open about all of the things above.

So it’s pretty interesting (in the way horrifying things are) to me when people aren’t honest about themselves and the bullshit castle they’ve built. Theres faking it til you make it, and then there is delusion and believing your own bullshit.

We all bullshit, it’s part of life and its DEFINITELY a part of social media.

But it doesn’t have to be a part of the voices in the back of your head. It doesn’t have to nourish you.

Today on the show we had a guest who was SO into her own bullshit, it was hysterical.

I was behind Camera Two today (the easiest Camera, because…well I’m not that great at Camera and it is a live show) and this guest was preparing herself for her segment, lounging around having had her makeup done by the professional make up artist (also a volunteer) and she starts telling a story, to no one in particular but I guess KINDOF the publicist for the company she represents, and kind of to the crew standing around in the calm before the storm (all unpaid and learning just like me, I should add) and she starts name dropping like we give a fuck.

Nope. Sorry. Never heard of this supposedly famous columnist you know over at some online magazine I’ve never heard of.

Ironically she mentioned that her other famous blogger friend who lives in NEW YORK (ooooohhh my god you know someone living in New York?! It’s JUST like Sex and the City!) was blogging about her and her relationship and BASICALLY wrote an open letter to her and it was SCANDALOUS.

Cue dramatic pause.

Cue all of us shrugging like…whaaaaa the crazy guest talking about?

TV will do weird things to people.

This lady was on the show to talk about hand creams. And maybe if I google her, she will turn out to be a big deal.

Buuuuuuuut. I didn’t really care.

I just wanted to check my focus and find out what the chef was cooking to see if we’d get yum free food after the show.

You know.

The important stuff.