Saturday, 15 September 2012

You're kidney-ing me!

Broadcast journalism is one of the toughest classes I've ever had to take in my life. Mixing two of my least favourite things - camera equipment and tight deadlines - this class has proven itself to be incredibly challenging, and it has only been three weeks.

I've had my heart set on print journalism for years, but the world is changing and journalism ain't a one-trick pony anymore. I wouldn't mind diving into online journalism, but broadcast journalism is the one I'm afraid of most.

Photo by Mercy-Anne Guevarra
In my most recent class, we were assigned to shoot, edit, and write a 30-second voiceover. My partner, Tyler, and I interviewed my good friend Mercy-Anne Guevarra who just participated in the Renal Ride Glide and Stride (RRGS) with her team, Hello Kidney.

The RRGS is a marathon in which people walk, run, and cycle in support of the Kidney Foundation and those with kidney disease.

This year, the event aimed to raise $20,000 but instead raised twice that amount of $51,805.64. Guevarra's team raised $3,105, placing them fifth in the Top Teams category.

This marathon is particularly important because kidney disease has affected Guevarra's life. Her 28-year-old sister, Cherry-Ann Guevarra, has kidney disease. And Guevarra is donating one of her kidneys to her sister.

Since Guevarra was working in the area of the campus, Tyler and I picked her up at her workplace and drove to a quiet spot in which to do the interview and shoot the footage. And we shot a lot of footage within an hour.

It wasn't until I sat down at the computer that I thought to myself, "I can't fit all of this great footage in 30 seconds!" In the end, I wrote a script that strung four to five clips together in the hopes that it would tell the amazing story of a sister's undying love. I can't help but feel like it didn't.

30 seconds is not enough for this particular story. Or maybe, if done well, it is enough. With a lot more practice in this class, maybe one day I can put together a heart-tugging tale with only a few clips. The task seems daunting, even impossible, right now.

A long time ago, Guevarra told me, "I wanted to give my sister my kidney so she can have a better life and so she can have children." Even soap opera writers can't come up with stuff like this. During our interview this week, I kept hoping she would say something of this magnitude that I can use for the voiceover, since I can't ask her straightforwardly. I know the rules.

Television is a great medium for this story. In print, I can describe what's going on, but viewers should see with their eyes who Guevarra is, listen to her talk about how important her sister is, and simultaneously feel a sad tightness in their chest and a tug on their heart when she reveals that she is making the huge sacrifice of giving away a piece of her so that her sister can live.

It took me three weeks, but I'm finally understanding why broadcast journalism is a great way to share a story.

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