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Behind the scenes in the media industry with its journalists
Media practitioners in the front row ready for news coverage—Photo by Joseph Earnest
by Joseph Earnest April 4, 2015
Newscast Media HOUSTON—In exactly a month from now, graduation will take place, thereafter college graduates will either join the workforce or further their studies. A while back a soon-to-be graduate asked me for advice about landing a job as a journalist. I told him the very first thing he needed to do was buy a camera and cover local events while applying for jobs, and also create and update an electronic portfolio.
The young man was sad, and walked away, perhaps thinking I had withheld valuable information from him. He thought I was going to give him tips on how to create an impressive resumé or to use reference letters from influential college professors. Instead, I told him to go out in the field and refine his skills to prepare him for what lies ahead in his chosen profession.
The truth is, every journalist I have ever worked with started out in a small market, went out in the field and gathered content, then after a series of media jobs, landed in a big market. Simply because an anchor or talk show host is wearing a sharp suit and tie or a glamorous dress with perfect makeup, doesn't mean he or she doesn't go out in the field and work in the sun, rain or freezing temperatures outside the comfort of a TV studio.
I have put together a gallery of some of the most famous journalists in Texas media. Some of these pictures are up to seven (7) years old, that I took while working at the CBS Houston affiliate station KHOU-TV as a multimedia photojournalist, while others are photos I took while working here at Newscast Media. I hope this page will demonstrate to future journalists how fundamental field work is.
*Journalists photographed herein are free to download the photos without any restrictions. Simply right-click on the images you desire and they are yours to keep.
Veteran Sports Videographer George Jensen of KHOU, at the Toyota Center in Houston, ready to cover the game between the Rockets and the Trailblazers. George has a son my age, which means he was a media practitioner before I was even born, but does a lot work in the field, even though he works also on his sports desk —Photo by Joseph Earnest, October 31, 2009.
News Videographer Bob Luna of KHOU at the NRG Stadium in Houston covering the game between the Colts and the Texans on September 11, 2009.—Photo by Joseph Earnest.
Bob Luna and Senior Writer Taylor Timmins covering the game.—Photo by Joseph Earnest
Taylor Timmins poses with R&B singer-songwriter Brian McKnight before an interview at the TV station.
—Photo by Joseph Earnest.
On March 18, 2008, I visited Deborah Duncan, who at the time was the Channel 11 morning news anchor. She was the first person I actually interviewed about pursuing a career in journalism. She was very cordial and answered all my questions. At the time I was thinking of becoming a psychologist since I was double-majoring in both journalism and psychology. The interview gave me a different perspective on the media and I decided I would pursue the path of journalism. —Photo by Joseph Earnest.
Exactly a year later, I was actually working as a paid intern at the CBS local affiliate. When Deborah Duncan got a visit from Brian McKnight, I had been asked to cover the interaction. To Deborah's surprise the guy she had spoken to a year earlier (me), was now working at the same station as she was, though in the news department. She hosts a successful talk show called Great Day Houston in the mornings.
—Photo by Joseph Earnest, April 11, 2009.
When anchors or talk show hosts look in the camera, there is actually a telepromter with words scrolling downwards, that they read. There is also a small screen under the teleprompter where the host can see his or her image to make sure the angle of the video shoot is proper. —Photo by Joseph Earnest.
While Deborah has a job within a TV studio, she also goes out in the field in freezing temperatures and covers other events. As shown above, the woman at the far right is wearing leather gloves due to the cold temperature. At this event, celebrating the contribution of war veterans, Deborah Duncan can be seen singing the National Anthem, and was one of the MCs.—Photo by Joseph Earnest, Dec. 12, 2009.
Courtney Zubowski, who at the time was a TV reporter for Channel 11 is seen looking at a smart phone on the mayoral election night. In the background, Annise Parker who ended up winning the race can be seen conducting an interview before the results were in.—Photo by Joseph Earnest, November 4, 2009.
Courtney interviews a voter on election night. —Photo by Joseph Earnest, November 4, 2009.
Courtney Zubowski and her cameraman. A few years ago Courtney got married and exited the field of journalism to pursue, in her words, "new and exciting opportunities," that do not include TV news.
—Photo by Joseph Earnest, November 4, 2009.
A weary Lisa Trapani Shumate (right) is at Museum District promoting the arts and also the local CBS-TV station. When I started my first day at KHOU-TV, Lisa was the very first employee I worked with. At the time, the TV station was in the process of switching from analog to digital format, and she and I both worked the entire Sunday to help make the switch. Little did I know that in the next few years, she would become the most powerful woman in Houston media, or perhaps Texas media.
—Photo by Joseph Earnest, June 16, 2009.
Rebecca Cantu, the Community Marketing and Public Relations Specialist of Channel 11 cheers up Lisa Shumate at the museum. —Photo by Joseph Earnest, June 16, 2009.
Lisa Shumate (wearing red), who at the time was Channel 11's Director of Marketing, was putting her final touches on the "Wreaths Across America" ceremony on December 12, 2009. A few years after this event, Lisa, an EMMY Award-winning veteran, was offered the positions of both Executive Director and General Manager of Houston Public Media, essentially putting her in control of both Houston public television and public radio, and an annual $20, 000,000 budget to run the media.
—Photo by Joseph Earnest.
Channel 11's Elaine Johnson and Rebecca Cantu at Museum District promoting the arts. Elaine is the Credit and Collections Specialists, who makes sure advertisers handle their financial obligations to the station in a timely manner. —Photo by Joseph Earnest, June 16, 2009.
Many, many years ago, I studied with Robert Kell. He pursued the field of journalism after he left, while I pursued multimedia and e-commerce. Several years later I was offered an academic scholarship, and interestingly enough, I landed at the same station as Robert whom I hadn't seen in many years. Robert Kell works as a news editor at the CBS local affiliate in Houston.—Photo by Joseph Earnest.
Robert Kell and this journalist were invited to give speeches to college students who were interested in seeking careers in the media.—Photo by Joseph Earnest.
News Anchor Christine Haas (left) and Anchor/Reporter Vicente Arenas at Museum District promoting both Channel 11 and the arts in Houston. Elaine Johnson is seen in the background.
—Photo by Joseph Earnest, June 16, 2009.
Christine Haas stepped away from her anchor desk on October 3, 2009, and Emceed the annual
"Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure" cancer event. The race helps bring breast cancer awareness to the public, as researchers continue to try and find a cure for the disease that afflicts millions across the world.
—Photo by Joseph Earnest.
Christine left the local CBS affiliate and moved to Southern California to work for another station. She has since returned to Texas and currently works at the FOX affiliate TV station in Austin, Texas.
—Photo by Joseph Earnest, October 3, 2009.
Anchor/Reporter Len Cannon is perhaps one of the coolest media practitioners I have ever worked with. Every year, Houston honors the best-dressed professionals in whatever profession they are undertaking, for their style. The event is called "Men of Style" and Len was selected in 2009 as one of the honorees.
—Photo by Joseph Earnest
Honorees of the 2009 Men of Style event. —Photo by Joseph Earnest
Len Cannon in the field covering the "Wreaths Across America" event at Veteran's Memorial December 12, 2009.—Photo by Joseph Earnest
Channel 11 Anchor/Reporter Shern-Min Chow at Museum District promoting the station and the arts, as she poses with viewers and signs autographs—Photo by Joseph Earnest, June 16, 2009.
Shern-Min Chow and Channel 11 Meteorologist Mario Gomez, pause with viewers for photographs.
—Photo by Joseph Earnest, June 16, 2009.
Viewers line up to get autographs and take pictures with Mario Gomez at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.—Photo by Joseph Earnest, June 16, 2009.
Viewers and fans line up to take photos and get autographs from Shern-Min Chow at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.—Photo by Joseph Earnest, June 16, 2009.
Lucy Noland a news anchor, together with Greg Hurst pose for photos as they sign autographs for viewers at Museum District.—Photo by Joseph Earnest, June 16, 2009.
Lucy Noland left Houston for Los Angeles, and has recently moved to Philadelphia where she co-anchors the news for the local FOX affiliate in Philly.—Photo by Joseph Earnest, June 16, 2009.
Fans and viewers line up for autographs and to have their photos taken with the Channel 11 journalists.—Photo by Joseph Earnest, June 16, 2009.
As an investigative journalist, Jeremy Desel has won more awards than anyone can count on both hands. This was the gubernatorial primary race he was covering between former Houston Mayor Bill White and Governor Rick Perry. The general was eventually won by Perry, making him the longest-serving governor in Texas history.—Photo by Joseph Earnest, March 2, 2010.
As Jeremy Desel was covering the event, his image was being broadcast live across Texas as shown on the screen behind him.—Photo by Joseph Earnest, March 2, 2010.
Channel 11's former Sports Anchor Butch Alsandor (middle) at a Christmas party to benefit disadvantaged kids in Conroe.—Photo by Joseph Earnest, December 23, 2009.
Butch asks the kids to strike a pose for the camera. I worked closely with Butch who was an extremely pleasant guy to work with, and covered more events with him than any other journalist in the newsroom since we sat next to each other. He probably knows more about sports and has attended more sporting events than anyone I have ever worked with in the field of journalism.—Photo by Joseph Earnest
The organizers and some of the kids at the Christmas party.—Photo by Joseph Earnest, Dec. 23, 2009.
Butch Alsandor (with hat) interviewing a Texans player at the Methodist Center during NFL camp.
—Photo by Joseph Earnest, August 7, 2009.
Channel 11's Chief Meteorologist David Paul with a fan at the Houston Dynamo game.
—Photo by Joseph Earnest, July 22, 2009.
Weekend anchor and reporter Sherry Williams (wearing red) mingles with fans before a Houston Dynamo game.—Photo by Joseph Earnest, July 22, 2009.
A photo shoot is incomplete without some cheerleaders. David Paul and Sherry Williams (middle) with the Dynamo Girls. —Photo by Joseph Earnest, July 22, 2009.
Gene Normal was Channel 11's Chief Meteorologist when I was there. The night of this photo, he was the MC of a Kirk Whalum event as you can see him in a Tux-Deluxe. A few years ago, he left for the CBS affiliate in Birmingham, Alabama. He also works for a multimedia company.—Photo by Joseph Earnest, December 12, 2009.
Ron Trevino (left) has perhaps worked longer than anybody else at the CBS Houston local affiliate, with over 30 years under his belt at the same station and 40 years as a journalist. This was the mayoral race he was covering on November 3, 2011.—Photo by Joseph Earnest
Susan McEldoon, the woman who has the final word, and the highest ranking person as President and General Manager of KHOU-TV. On this particular day, I was still relatively new at the station, and as I was headed down the hallway, I saw a lady and a gentleman, and asked them to strike a pose for my camera. Both kindly complied, thereafter I went about my business. It wasn't until months later that I was told, she is the one with veto-power as to who gets hired or not, and can override the news director's decision if she so chooses. This particular day, she probably was wondering who the new face was, telling her what to do...but she handled it with class.—Photo by Joseph Earnest, September 15, 2009.
In 2012, I was covering the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, and as I was taking a photo of the crowd, I was unaware that a former colleague was covering the same event. Alex Sanz, who is taking a selfie shown above, worked at the CBS Houston local affiliate as one of the reporters while I was there, and I hadn't seen him in almost three years before the convention. He is an excellent guy and currently works for the Associated Press.—Photo by Joseph Earnest, August 30, 2012.
Nakia Cooper was on the same team as I. As one of the multimedia journalists, the team was responsible for handling the behind-the-scenes aspects of the broadcast and digital media. She had been handed a brand new Nikon and had to familiarize herself with it before the game started. I advised her to put it on a fixed setting until she was comfortable playing around with it.—Photo by Joseph Earnest, Sept. 11, 2011.
Michelle Ponto...very daring in her fashion sense, was yet another person on the digital media team, as the Media Editor and Designer. She trained me, and got me acquainted with the new platform that the station was using. I had a background in IT and multimedia, but little experience in the television world. Thanks to a great team for their mentorship of me when I was new to the setting. That is actually me standing next to her, with my arm around her shoulder. I cropped myself out to keep her the focus of attention.—Photo by Joseph Earnest, November 20, 2009.
Joe Segura (middle) feeling good at a farewell party that was being held the evening of November 20, 2009. Joe was the Assignment Desk Editor at Channel 11. To the left in black is Nakia Cooper, while Michelle Ponto is on the right in a red jacket.—Photo by Joseph Earnest
Brian McKnight with Juanita Jimenez a senior producer. If there is anyone who I credit with ushering me into the media industry it is Juanita. I got a phone call from her a year after I had applied to the station using an online form. I had forgotten about it, but Juanita told me they were interested in interviewing me. She insisted that the position needed to be filled that particular spring. After several minutes of persuasion, she convinced me to go to the station for an interview. To my surprise, they said before they could even interview me, I had to take a test in Civics about current affairs. I did well, then I was sent upstairs to the Director of Digital Media.
Needless to say, as I was driving out, Juanita called me and said I had the position. Had she not been steadfast by refusing to take no for an answer, perhaps I would be in a different vocation. What's funny is that the day I got hired, I didn't have my resume with me, but she played a crucial role in getting me on her team, because she believed in me so completely, even though we had never met before. I would like to believe I did not disappoint the team. —Photo by Joseph Earnest, April 11, 2009.
Nakia Cooper, Juanita Jimenez and Michelle Ponto. Juanita was thrown a farewell party as she transitioned to another job working as a Web Content Specialist. While Juanita was training me, she poured as much as possible of her 20-plus years experience in television, into me, and by the time she left, she said to me, "I have a feeling, one day I will be working for you." That prediction has not come true, as of now, but who knows?—Photo by Joseph Earnest, April 11, 2009.
In the front row is Juanita Jimenez and Michelle Homer to the right. In the back is Nakia Cooper (L) and Michelle Ponto (R). The Managing Web Editor, Michelle Homer, played a very crucial role in smoothing my rough edges and took her mentorship role of me seriously. When the company switched to a new platform called Clickability, she trained me in less than an hour, and so confident was she in my ability to grasp her style, she gave me the nod to start using the new platform and upload content, within the same hour of training me. While Juanita was responsible for opening the door and training me to acquire her skills, Homer put me through boot camp to make sure I could cover events as a photojournalist in any kind of weather, whether it was at night, in the hot sun, on a cloudy day, in a sports stadium and under different kinds of settings. The skills I acquired working under her mentorship are still invaluable to this very day, because she dared to push me, to maximize the ability she saw in me.
—Photo by Joseph Earnest, April 11, 2009.
One person who also played an enormous part in my early years as a journalist is Christine DiStadio, yet I never had a chance to work in the field with her, so I don't have a picture of her that was taken with my camera. The day I was interviewed, I was asked to go upstairs and see Christine, since she was the Director of Digital Media, and held sway in who would join her team. After a brief interview, she liked what she heard and made sure I joined her team. The team was made of people who cross-trained such that, even if one person was missing, there were others who could do the same task. As you can see from the e-mail above I preserved from six years ago, there was a fault on one of the slideshows I was working on and Christine didn't wait for me to fix it, she did it herself, because she had cross-trained and was proficient in several areas. —November 16, 2009, Extract from Christine DiStadio's communication.
The main man, yours truly getting some sunshine—Courtesy photo.
The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences honored my contributions as a Photojournalist.
My digital hybrid camera that travels with me almost everywhere.—Photo by Joseph Earnest
A team of journalists with their cameras ready for action in Austin, Texas.—Photo by Joseph Earnest, January 18, 2011.
Behind the scenes
It is very important for journalists to know what's going on locally, statewide, nationally and internationally, that's why newsrooms have several TV channels running at the same time as shown above.—Photo by Joseph Earnest
Furthermore, as multimedia journalists, we were also expected to know how to use the relevant video editing software to condense the news and remove non-essentials from the footage. Hands-on training is absolutely necessary as opposed to textbook theories most universities teach.
—Photo by Joseph Earnest.
Learning how to operate a telepromter. —Photo by Joseph Earnest
This particular behind-the-scenes control room has almost 60 television monitors.
—Photo by Joseph Earnest
The satellite dishes responsible for transmitting signals to viewers.—Photo by Joseph Earnest
Before entering the journalism field seven years ago, I had about eight years of multimedia and IT experience that I brought to the table. Some of the work I did was 3D Modeling, 3D Animation, Web Development and programming and other essential elements that I have since fused with journalism.
Above is an example of a 3D model of a shark that I designed a few years ago. These models are then animated and can be used for demonstrative or educational purposes such as in documentaries.
—3D rendering by Joseph Earnest using 3D Studio Max software.
A fully rendered shark ready to be animated. The shark can be assigned different textures. I gave mine a texture to make it look ferocious, inspired by the tiger shark. In this final assignment, I created and animated a fish aquarium. —3D rendering by Joseph Earnest using 3D Studio Max software.
In multimedia, one also has to know how to create 3D vector graphics and animate them if the occasion calls for it, just like broadcast graphics are animated. In this task, I created a logo with a fictitious name called Checkmate, then rendered the 3D image.—3D rendering by Joseph Earnest using 3D Studio Max.
Above is the final rendition of the 3D logo. Remember, none of this is taught in journalism classes, one has to take classes in multimedia or self-train to be able to execute such graphics.
—3D rendering by Joseph Earnest using 3D Studio Max and Fireworks Professional v8.0.
Perhaps one of the most important skills that any journalist needs to know is video editing using a linear editor. Being able to shoot video, edit, then upload it or burn it on a disc saves a lot of time and money. Here I was editing an interview I did, from 30 minutes to just five minutes. The software I used is the same that was used to edit the blockbuster movie series The Matix by Keanu Reeves.
—Edited by Joseph Earnest using Final Cut Studio Pro HD.
Adding visual effects or animated text makes any rendering come alive. This task required me to animate text, and I used Adobe After Effects to do so.—Animation by Joseph Earnest using After Effects Pro.
Knowing how to design a Web site from scratch as a journalist puts one ahead, but knowing how to write multimedia code is even a bonus. The above computer language I was using is called ActionScript, that is perhaps the most powerful interactive computer language there is today. It is the same used on YouTube for the videos, most social media sites use it, and video games use this powerful script shown above.
—ActionScript by Joseph Earnest using Macromedia Flash Professional v8.0.
Hopefully the above-furnished information can be used as a guide to inspire aspiring journalists to be pragmatic and use the accessible tools like cameras, software and most importantly mentors, to absorb as much knowledge as possible in order to prepare themselves for future endeavors. Add Comments>>
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