Friday, July 27, 2007

A Day in the Life of Day to Day

I have not had much time to process and reflect on my internship here so sometimes I forget how bizarre my job really is. A few days ago I called home and my sister asked me how my day had been. As I prattled on, it suddenly struck me how delusional I must sound when I start talking about my job here. The stories. The people. The chaos. To illustrate this and to devote a moment to reflection, I'm just going to take a look back at the first couple of hours of my day yesterday to see what daily life at Day to Day is like.

The first thing one needs to know about Day to Day is how young it is. Tomorrow, it will celebrate its fourth birthday, but additionally, the mean age of the people who work on the show must be around 30. The part of the West office devoted to the show is always bustling and energetic with people laughing and voicing opinions at the giant white board. Someone is always excited about something, whether it's the interview that's coming in five minutes or the frosted left on the table or the latest Youtube video.

Yesterday morning, when I arrived a bit before six there were a couple gaps in the show (blank slots on the giant white board): not good news. My initials were already next to two story tags under the category "chasing" (this would change several times over the course of the morning).

But before I could begin to pursue a San Francisco cabbie with the unlucky a medallion number of “666”, our line producer was asking me to put in a request for an interview with Senator Charles Schumer. And then, Arlen Spector. When one of my requests was denied, I could feel a slight rise of panic in the air as the gaps in the show remained. After a quick brainstorming session, I was asked to find a Washington correspondent who could confirm for us if a retired general involved in the Pat Tillman case would be demoted. This is the part of the day where things started to get...messy. I placed a few calls to correspondents from different news outlets and then waited. (Waiting is always the hardest part). As I waited however, I started looking up contacts for other stories. I called a professor in England about cycling and a facilities manager in Texas about crickets. As I jotted down contact information for wildlife conservationists in Rwanda, I started getting calls back from the Washington journalists. And then emails from the library about taxi cab numbers in San Francisco. As I put people on hold and tried to keep up with the emails I was getting back, our producer called me over. "Quick! Watch this," he said, and on his computer screen, hundreds of Philippine prisoners danced to Michael Jackson's Thriller. I stared at our producer blankly as my phone continued ringing. "Can you get us in touch with a prison guard in the Philippines? Or maybe the person who originally posted this video? It'd be great on today's show."

The most exciting and frustrating thing about working here is how fast-paced it is--every day is a chance to start fresh, fill in the gaps, to get a little better at booking, chasing, etc. All of the previous days victories or confusions are wiped clean at the end of each day when Neal washes off the board and my initials disappear. Days here flash by and my last two weeks will no doubt go by as the past two months. And one of these days, my initials are going to be wiped off the board for good. I'll leave my press pass and right to say "This is Haley Bridger, calling from National Public Radio" at the door.
It's gone by fast, hasn't it?

Anyway, I need to get back to pursuing prison guards in the Philippines and find out more about gorillas at a park on the border of the Congo and Rwanda. And who knows what else in an hour from now!

Happy fourth birthday, Day to Day.


Patrick Jarenwattananon said...

Beyond the choreography, that Thriller video is really quite something. My favorite part is how all the inmates converge on the (cross-dressing?) "woman"--an act which seems laden with all the exactly wrong undertones which a prison of 1,000 inmates wants to transmit to the broader world.

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