Jen Stafford

Nobody's Perfect

The Boston Marathon – Special Report

I’d like to call this my final…on life.

If you know anything about journalism, just because I am not in front of the camera in this particular broadcast does not mean I didn’t put in endless hours of research, time and hard work. Every broadcast journalism major at Emerson College is required to produce one final show on any subject of their choice.

Originally, I was planning to do a standard nightly newscast, which I was not particularly passionate about. On Monday, April 15th I set out down Boylston to film a story on the Boston Marathon for another woman’s practicum show who is also in my class. As you can assume, that story ended very differently than it began. It also changed my life.

After hearing the second explosion, although I did not know exactly what had happened, I knew something was terribly wrong. I ran outside of the Prudential Center and witnessed things my mind will never allow me to erase.

I grabbed hold of my friends hand, we gave each other a quick nod and sprinted as fast as we could into the South End of Boston. My only thought process was get away from big buildings and large groups of people. We managed to cross onto Boylston’s side streets. Within seconds we were running along side families, screaming children, SWAT cars and helicopters flying above us.

It wasn’t until I got back to my apartment that I stopped running. I hadn’t had to really think up until that point. My body had taken control to the point where a fluid thought process wasn’t required. The closest thing I can compare it to is like being in a video game. My thoughts were choppy, automated. Door – Exit – Smoke – Go other way – People lying on the ground crying – Run.

It wasn’t until I was back inside my apartment, a mere four blocks from the first explosion, that I began to cry. Everything there was so normal. Untouched. My two colliding realities didn’t mix. My roommate looked at me like I was crazy. She hadn’t seen the news yet. My eyes felt like they were pinned open. I stumbled around my room, wide eyed and shaking for a few minutes before I decided to go back outside. I wasn’t ready to be normal again.

I wandered down the street into the Boston Gardens. If you have never been, it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I sat down on a bench and listened. There was a woman playing violin. Across from me two little boys were learning how to walk. I thought I was daydreaming until a man sat down on the other end of my bench. He was on the phone describing what it was like to watch a man’s legs get blown off. That was the end of my daydream.

The juxtaposition of two small blocks was enough to make me nauseous. Life had never been so fragile.

The following morning I sat down to compose the rundown for my practicum show. I couldn’t do it. At the time, writing a nightly newscast was like trying to talk about immigration reform when your house is burning down. It was impossible. My mind was stuck. My head was in a thick cloud and the only light shining through was the sunlight that allowed me to witness a massacre on the very street I lived on.

As I was sitting in an editing suite with my head buried in my hands, the lightbulb went off. I was going to do a special report on the Boston Marathon bombings.

Hours of writing, filming and editing served as an unusual form of therapy. I needed to let it all out. But, I knew covering this event also poposed an extreme challenge. This is on a topic that deserves the best coverage I could produce and that is what I tried to do.

The writing and media was intended to be honest, accurate and informative, but I also wanted to avoid dwelling on casualties and statistics. It was a special report, not a live “play-by-play” or breaking news broadcast. Instead, I wanted to provide a sense of resilience and reconciliation while maintaining a somber tone that reflected a very difficult topic.

I’m most proud of the footage I used. With a few exceptions, my friend Matt Josselyn and I shot almost all the video.

 If there were to be a next time, I would use more graphics. The graphic of the flower, which I used as a “default graphic” looked great on a computer screen, but not so hot on the plasma. Instead I would have changed the flower to a logo of the Boston Marathon.

I would also double, even triple check camera angles, specifically the double box and live shot. The second biggest error of the show was when Josh (the anchor) stayed on camera three instead of camera one coming back from the live shot. With that also created the lower thirds error, which cited the studio as the satellite center and vice versa.

As stated above, this show was not a breaking news broadcast. It was a reflection on the week and events that transpired, meant to instill a sense of resilience and healing.

The flow of the show was something I originally struggled with. The end product was simply the chain of events as they unfolded.

The events that followed Marathon Monday have changed my life forever. I hope this broadcast will provide a sense of healing, but most importantly portray why it is that I am so proud to call the city of Boston my home.


One comment on “The Boston Marathon – Special Report

  1. Karen Tuman
    May 5, 2013

    Jen, you did a beautiful job. I had already watched the news broadcast on youtube. I feel like it keeps me in touch with you, watching all your completed projects. I’m so proud of you. You truly have a gift.

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This entry was posted on April 30, 2013 by .
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