Good thing I did, too, because while I had enough gas to make it to work and back, (usually all the traveling I do on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday) today I was going out on a shoot. I didn't know it when I filled up my tank, but I ended up logging 30+ more miles than usual.
The reason why: Yesterday, a woman was driving with her 5-month-old nephew on the Dolphin Expressway when she noticed he had abruptly stopped crying, and stopped breathing too. The baby had been born two months early, explaining the respiratory struggle he has not yet overcome. The woman, Pamela Rauseo, jumped from her car and began screaming for help. A passerby pulled over and came to assist. In the car behind them happened to be Al Diaz, a photographer for The Miami Herald. Diaz walked down the expressway for more help, and found a police officer. In the meantime, Rauseo began giving the baby CPR. The police officer took over when he arrived. Also stuck in the same traffic? A Captain and Lieutenant from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.
The story quickly gained national prominence. Partially for the abnormality of it. The baby is so, so young. And stopped breathing in traffic on the expressway? It was kind of chilling how real the situation is for all of us who ever sit in traffic on an expressway. And it's a very real reminder that tomorrow is never promised… for any of us. Further, the fact that the photographer who found the cop happened to be on the Dolphin Expressway. This was lucky for the baby, and lucky for us, because without his photos, there would quite seriously be no story. Moreover, the aunt and baby were on their way home from a doctor's appointment. And lastly, the fact that the two men from Fire Rescue were sitting in the same traffic related to this very incident when they heard it over their radios.
So today at around 10 a.m. I was sent to meet a photographer at Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.
I showed up and parked where it said, "Media Parking." I quickly found my photographer. We walked over to the entrance to the building where the interviewing was taking place. The media coordinator for the Fire Rescue team came over to me and said she didn't believe we had met, and proceeded to introduce herself. I made a mental note that in the future, I should be the one to say I didn't believe we had met, and introduce myself.
I said, "I'm Jordan." She said "With…" and I said, "NBC News."
After I said it, I thought to myself, Holy shit. I'm Jordan Schuman with NBC News. Haven't I waited a really long time to be Jordan Schuman with NBC News? Today, I was.
I interviewed both men who responded on behalf of Fire Rescue. I re-learned why it was best to interview them separately. There are a few reasons for this, actually. It's very awkward when you have a shot of two subjects and only one of them speaks. It sometimes causes the viewer to question why the second person is there in the first place. Secondly, when two people are together in an interview, one tends to dominate the conversation, and the only way to keep this from happening and truly get the most information is by separating the subjects.
My photographer was planning to leave Fire Rescue and shoot some video of heavy traffic on the Dolphin Expressway where the emergency occurred. I was going to head back to the office.
Before we left the parking lot, the photographer received a phone call from our Bureau Chief letting him know we were to instead head to the aunt's house to interview her, and another photographer would get the traffic. I asked, "is someone meeting us there?" I was expecting him to tell me Mark Potter, the correspondent working on this story, would be there too. Instead, he said, "nah, we can do it."
It was this moment I realized no matter how many people were necessary to make this story happen, NBC would not have sent me if they didn't think I'd act professionally, ask the right questions, etc. I was thrilled to be on this adventure considering that as a bureau, most of our shoots are a long distance drive or plane ride away, and planned in advance and not on days I'm working. I was just lucky this news broke and was relevant when I was sitting at my desk.
We headed to interview the aunt and arrived at the house at 11:45 a.m. It turns out the interview was scheduled for 1 p.m. so we went to lunch and returned shortly after 12:30 p.m. Also in the driveway was a photographer and reporter from Telemundo. They're on our team.
We waited for Pamela Rauseo and in the meantime, reporters from the ABC & Univision and FOX affiliates also joined us outside the house. The tension was palpable.
When Pamela's husband arrived, he told us he had committed to interview with us and Telemundo, and everyone else would have to wait. Why? Because we had called ahead and set up an interview, while the other reporters showed up and hoped for the best. It was that moment I knew I was on the right team.
We went inside the house to set up for our interview and Pamela walked in. Before this, I realized that Pamela would be walking through the front door which was being crowded by aforementioned unscheduled reporters. There was nothing we could do if Pamela stopped to answer their questions first. We hoped she wouldn't because it would set us back in our schedule immensely. She didn't. Instead, she told them she was going to go ahead with her committed interviews with us, and if they wanted to wait they could. They didn't want to wait.
I felt bad for Pamela for a little bit. She did a truly wonderful thing and saved her nephew's life, but yesterday, she was just a woman who lives a quiet life in Miami and has a 5-month-old nephew. Today, everyone wanted to talk to her. After she walked in, she handed her phone to her husband and said someone would be calling from Anderson Cooper. I couldn't imagine how overwhelmed she felt.
A producer did end up coming to the house to help us. She conducted the interview. At the end, it's customary to ask the person if there's anything we didn't touch on that she wanted to discuss. She said no, so my producer then asked me if there was anything we didn't touch one that I wanted to discuss. There wasn't, but I was really glad she asked.
Afterward, we shot some B-roll in the baby's room. The photographer shot Pamela looking through a closet of too-cute baby clothes. Baby clothes make me all sentimental even when they aren't assigned to a child. Especially tiny little precious baby shoes. I suggested my photographer get a shot of the pairs of shoes on a shelf.
He told me he already did, but said I had a good eye for catching them.
There's a famous piece of literature believed to be authored by Ernest Hemingway:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn
It is often considered the shortest novel in history. I know how much these 6 words say, so imagine them in pictures? I thought about the very different story we could have been covering if not for the kindness of strangers and the assistance of nearby officials. The baby shoes would speak even more volumes that way. I'm so glad they didn't have to.
At around 2:04 p.m., my photographer asked me if I was a fast driver. I said yes, because… I don't know why. I just said yes. He gave me the tape to bring back to the bureau, since this story was for Nightly News and we were on a very tight deadline.
I didn't speed, but I wondered if I had, if a police officer would understand and/or care and/or empathize with the fact that, "I need to bring this tape back to the office as soon as I can because it's going on Nightly News tonight- that's NBC- and I'm only going soooo quickly because, well, see I'm only an intern but I worked really hard on this story and I need to get it to New York!!" I was glad I didn't need to say any of that to anyone.
I brought it back to the office and immediately started logging with another producer. I log a lot, but this time, instead of hearing Mark Potter or Kerry Sanders ask the questions, I heard my voice. Remember, I'm Jordan Schuman with NBC News.
At 4 p.m., we had a script. It was sent for approval and was approved. I could not believe this was going to be on Nightly News. I watched an editor in the edit room which slowly filled up with producers. By 6:30 p.m., Mark Potter, me, an editor and two producers were in the room. We were on the phone feeding the story to New York around 6:27 p.m. I could not believe this story was going to be on Nightly News. On the other end of the phone was the control room at 30 Rock. You know 30 Rock. Where NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams is shot? Well we heard a countdown from 10 and we were on the air. Though I still could not believe this story was going on Nightly News, I started to. NY had our story at about 6:28 p.m. The show went live at 6:30 p.m.
I breathed a sigh of relief after the time-crunch story-chasing day we had. I said goodnight to everyone at work, and we celebrated a job well done.
I drove home.
When I got home, I received an email that the Senior Producer at Nightly loved our story, and people were saying "yay!" in the control room.
That would've been more than enough for me, but this tweet from @MarkPotterNBC didn't hurt either…
"@jordanschumantv We are thrilled to have Jordan working with us. She is so smart and has such a bright future!"
You know, just in case you weren't sure this blog is the blog to be reading.
It is :)
You heard it here first,
See the full piece here.