The official blog of The Daily.
Download the app for the full interactive experience.
Our reporter Erik German went along on a real-life pot bust (and lived to tell us about it). We could tell you how he did it, but weed prefer it came from Erik himself. Read his incredible first-hand account here:
Swinging under a helicopter, hiking in the mountains and seeing a huge drug bust from the inside – this was hands down the best day I’ve ever spent at work. That’s probably obvious from the goofy grin plastered on my face as I’m flying through the air. What’s less obvious is how much has to go right – and how many people have to help out – for a video like this to happen for The Daily.
First, the Mendocino Sheriff’s Office very graciously allowed us to tag along while their officers took on the dangerous task of eradicating an illegal pot-farm deep in the backcountry. They took a bit of a risk letting us come along. With millions of dollars worth of weed on the line, growers have been known to shoot at the police during raids. The sheriff and his deputies told us at the outset there’d be no guarantees in terms of what we’d see, and the deal at the outset was the two fools with cameras – that would be me and cameraman Dan Edblom – would have to hike into the garden, while the officers took helicopters.
Luck plays a role in almost every video shoot I’ve been a part of – good and bad – and this time, we had a bit of the good kind on the ground. The police staging area for the pot raid turned out to be about 4 miles from the illegal garden, and hiking there would have taken hours. For safety reasons, the police wouldn’t let us hike through the woods unaccompanied. But none of the cops were keen on slogging with us off-trail across two heavily forested ridge lines – especially when the helicopter could slash that travel time from hours to minutes.
“How would you guys feel if we just short-hauled you over there?,” asked the sergeant leading the raid.
Short-hauling is an Army special ops technique for rapidly helicoptering a handful of ground troops to a rugged spot without having to land the aircraft. It involves hanging men two at a time from a 100-foot long rope beneath the helicopter then flying them through the air at 90 miles per hour. It is ridiculously, hilariously, terrifyingly fun.
We told the sergeant we would not mind being short-hauled.
Shooting our story on the ground meant carrying gear up and down crazy steep hills, picking our way through thick underbrush and doing a fair amount of sweating and swearing when things went wrong. But the real challenge of video production always comes after you bring the footage home. Video stories don’t tell themselves and the relationship between a hard drive full of raw footage and a finished video is a distant one. It’s roughly that of scrap metal to a finished watch.
Because I’m no video editor – and because I had a print story to finish – two skilled craftsmen in my newsroom stepped in to make the story happen. One of our top producers, Vivek Kemp, laid out a basic structure for the piece and also wrote the scripted lines you hear me read when I’m not on screen. Broadcast writing is harder than it looks, because you’ve got to write in a way that sounds like talking but still conveys as much information as a printed page. The best scripts don’t call attention to themselves but instead somehow teleport information and images into your head in a perfectly-sequenced and almost preconscious way. I think Vivek succeeded wonderfully here.
The next step is actually cutting the footage together using the script as a guide. This job fell to Jon Tortora, one of the best editors in The Daily’s talent-rich editing pool. Editing moving images involves hundreds upon hundreds of decisions –when to cut, what to cut and what music you’ll hear – and more than anything else this stage of the process determines what kind of experience awaits the viewer who presses “play.” The editing process really amounts to a second writing of the piece, except that instead of just manipulating words, the editor manipulates speech, sounds, pictures and the overall pace of the experience. We see and consume so much television in our daily lives it’s easy to forget that the experience of watching – every instant of it – has been stage-managed by an editor who spent hours shaping those instants. I encourage you to keep an eye out for more of Jon’s work in The Daily because he’s extraordinarily good at what he does.
For me, this story was a fun day at work. I hope it provided our readers an interesting look at a uniquely aggressive front in America’s war on drugs. That’s a win in our newsroom – and making it happen week in and week out takes a lot more people than the guy whose face shows up in the video.
- littov likes this
- billbradley likes this
- udemeisacentric likes this
- putttin likes this
- anunnakisinombre69 reblogged this from thedailyfeed
- pheocado likes this
- paperholic likes this
- iforgotmyshirtatthewatersedge reblogged this from thedailyfeed
- boldandbeautiful likes this
- missamberv reblogged this from thedailyfeed
- grassnotes said: Marijuana isn’t a drug. Thanks for maintaining an ignorant take on dated close-minded view. Truly disgusting.
- whatthematter4ya likes this
- paulproteus reblogged this from thedailyfeed
- paulproteus likes this
- knockoutpress likes this
- universalboyfriend likes this
- shakeandblake92 likes this
- thedailyfeed posted this