Monday, November 16, 2009

Prime Time Football

Orin and I

After class I drove over to Prime Time to hang out with the kids. One of the second graders volunteered to be my photographer. He did a good job, don't you think? 

Prime Time is a nonprofit after school program for at-risk kids in East Gainesville. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


While sitting in a lecture hall learning about the many laws of mass communication, I got an email from my producer at mtvU saying he was airing my package...three times! At 2:30, 3:30, and 4:30!


I haven't figured out how to grab the video from the mtvU broadcast, but here's the link to the story on ABC's website:

Friday, September 4, 2009

Lunch with Dean Wright

Patrick, Miles, Dean Wright, myself, and Brittny

Yesterday Dean Wright took the ABC News on Campus team to lunch at Ballyhoo. It was a nice treat and I realized, I am SO excited for my senior year of college!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Clunkers, Clouds, and a Cameo

It's Sunday, and this morning I went to church. Leaving inspired and rejuvenated, I decided on a lunch date to Panera with my laptop. Sitting in one of the prized booths next to an outlet, I'm catching up on my emails and taking sporadic bites of my panini. I just sent Rob, fellow journalist and friend, a response to his email I received at the beginning of the week. I unleashed some of the feelings I've been harboring since last night, when I left the station at 11:46 PM. I figured this makes for a good blog post.

I'm sorry I'm just now getting back to you. My weekend has been pretty crazy. Yesterday I worked at TV20 as a fill-in reporter for the 11. They sent me to Chiefland for a "cash-for-clunkers" package. On the way back to the station, my producer asked me to drive to Hawthorne to get a vosot on a man who fell from a water tower. To save time, the assignment desk gave me directions from Chiefland to Hawthorne. I guess sometime between pulling out of the car dealership and steering with my knee while searching for a pen, I misunderstood the directions. For the next 45 minutes, nothing but me and WCJB's white hyundai were on a long two-lane road, smack dab in the middle of a thick forest that reminded me of The Blair Witch Project. Having no service on my cell phone, I began to panic. At the first sight of human life, I pulled over. I grabbed my useless cell phone thinking that if I was abducted, at least I could pray for a miracle. A woman wearing overalls and chewing a piece of hay was selling peaches. Great, I was closer to Georgia than TV20. The woman gave me directions back to Gainesville. I put the pedal to the metal and called my producer at the first bar of service. She still needed the Hawthorne video.

 I make it to Hawthorne Road. Up ahead I see dark clouds stirring together. I was approaching a severe lightning storm. When I couldn't see anything but the powerful bolts striking two feet from my car, I pulled over. I called my producer and explained my life was in danger. "Kristin, try to stick it out. We need this vosot. It's leading the show," she says. It wasn't long before I found myself hovering under a tree with my tripod and camera, getting video of a tall, METAL water tower surrounded by WATER. Good thing the rain didn't short out my camera...right? As soon as I got back to the station, I jumped in an edit bay and got to work. At 10:53pm I delivered my package. Wait. I forgot to insert super times in my script. My friends watching at home say they saw my graceful sprint behind the news anchor, as I booked it across the studio to the control room to give the director my cue sheet for supers.

Yesterday, time was not on my side. In the short hour I had to edit, I was forced to repeat video and use shaky shots. Not mentioned in my email, but will be explained to my news director on Monday, was the lack of footage at the car dealership. I wanted to get video of a customer bringing in their clunker, interacting with the salesman, etc. Of course when I got to Chiefland I had, "just missed the wave of cash-for-clunkers customers," (said the GM).

When it's all said and done, the important thing is, I survived. I did the best with what I had to work with at the ghost-town of a car dealership, made it to Hawthorne without getting struck by lightning, filmed the water tower without getting electrocuted, didn't trip and twist my ankle while sprinting to the control room, and my cash-for-clunkers package made slot.

Here's a link to my package, (watch for my cameo run during the anchor intro).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Black Violin

Patrick setting up for the interview

               Talking to myself/Patrick fixing camera angles

Wil B and Kev Marcus hit the stage! 

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ester and Murray

My parents invited the relatives over for Father's Day, so I drove to Palm Harbor to pick up my grandparents. I was in their kitchen when I looked out of the window and saw a butterfly flying around the garden. When I see a butterfly, I think of one person.

Giulia Lewis was my best friend growing up. On November 5, 2003, she passed away. She was 15-years-old.

Working as a reporter, I see articles like this one all the time. Many of us experience the initial heavy-heart, showing our coworker the police report with a check in the "fatal" box. You think of the parents who lost their five-year-old son. They were just trying to keep him safe by putting him inside the boat's cabin. They never thought the boat would capsize, their son drown. A producers voice, a phone ringing, the realization that you're live in ten minutes; the newsroom snaps you back into reality before you can think any deeper. Your emotions cannot stop you from performing, from doing your job. You're a reporter.

But I know these articles and police reports aren't just pieces of paper with facts to include in the VO. I know the pain and suffering behind the words. At 14 years old, I saw my friend in a coffin. An experience that has changed my life. I saw how one death can affect the living. The parents who lost their only child. The aunts and uncles who lost their niece. The best friend who lost her sister.

"There is an old school of professional journalistic thought that reporters must adhere at all times to the appearance of detachment. We must eschew any activity or association that might reveal or even signal a bias, for that might undercut the credibility of our reporting," (found this in my notes, most likely the words of a professor).

Basically we cannot act like real people. So many times I see reporters who tell a story like Giulia's without a glimmer of emotion. They don't seem to have souls. I understand we must be "detached" as journalists, and I'm not saying we should shed tears during our stand-ups, but we must show that we're human. Viewers need to know they can relate to us, trust us. A reporter without emotion or caring is not much of a reporter in my book. You must have a heart. You must have compassion.

Not many understand the great power a journalist holds. Look at Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein, two reporters working for The Washington Post who discovered and published the information that led to the resignation of Nixon. Woodward and Bernstein spent countless hours investigating leads and news tips, looking at documents and interviewing people, and it wasn't for their health. It was to help the people-ultimately the American people. That's our job as journalists. To help others. Robots aren't reading our articles and watching our newscasts. People are.

After seeing the butterfly in my grandparents garden, I decided to call Ester and Murray Lewis, Giulia's grandparents. Over the years Giulia's grandma Ester and I have kept in touch. We write often and I send her pictures and update her on my adventures reporting.

Grandpa Murray just celebrated his 90th birthday on May 6th. The last time I spoke with him was at Giulia's funeral, six years ago. Yesterday Ester put him on the phone, so I can wish him a happy Father's Day. I was afraid he wouldn't remember me, but to my surprise he screamed "Kristin!" right when he got on the phone. He went on to say how happy he was that I've stayed in his and Ester's life. He started crying, and said "I love you Kristin, you're my granddaughter." Of course I broke down, and we both talked about life, crying and laughing at the many memories we shared.

I guess what I learned this Father's Day is not to be afraid of changing, of showing your emotion and your heart. It can do so much good for others. Us journalists need to understand the power that lies in our hands. We have the ability to change the world, to help countless people. One newspaper article, one police report, one story, one phone call can change a life. Not just the viewers or readers, but your own.

Giulia and I

My grandfather (Papoo in Greek), my brother Peter and I
Father's Day

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Baseball Dreams

Robbie Lumpkins and I

ABC News on Campus Website Photo Shoot, May 11 2009

On Monday, May 11, I drove back up to Gainesville. The new bureau hires were meeting to take a group picture for the website. Later that night, Brittny and I decided to go to Swamp with some friends. When I was there I ran into a friend of mine, Clayton Pisani. Clayton is on the UF baseball team. We started talking about baseball and he asked about my job with ABC News on Campus. The reporter in me came out and it wasn't long before I asked if there was anything newsworthy about baseball this season. After a few seconds, he said, "Robbie!"
"Robbie? Is he on the team?" I asked.
"Well, kind of," he responded. Clayton preceded to tell me about Robbie Lumpkins...

I had discovered an amazing story. Clayton said I could meet Robbie at the next home game that Friday.

When I got to the stadium, I walked up to the dugout and looked for Clayton. All the players were facing the field, looking exactly the same in their baseball uniforms. Their distinguishing marks were of no use because of course, I didn't know Clayton's number. So for a good five minutes, I awkwardly stood above the dugout, looking for Clayton, as onlookers most likely assumed I was checking out the team physique.

Once I found my friend, I asked if he knew where Robbie was.

"Over there," Clayton pointed to a man in a wheel chair sitting in section F. I walked over, sat next to him, and started talking.

Robbie was so friendly and kind. I explained I was a reporter from ABC News on Campus interested in doing a feature story on him and his love for the Gators. Robbie's face lit up and he quickly responded, "anything for the team!"

That week, my photographer and I followed Robbie around at two home games and one practice. Meeting Robbie was a blessing. His story changed my life. Robbie faces obstacles every day, yet he is so positive and has so much love and passion for life. He doesn't let his disability define who is he and what he can do.

I finished the story on Wednesday, May 27, and sent the script over to Hank Astengo, the sports anchor at the local ABC affiliate in Gainesville, WCJB TV20. I called Hank on Thursday and asked if I could swing by and let him take a look at the finished product. When I got to the station, we went to an edit bay and popped in my tape. When my story was over Hank said, "I have to rearrange my show."
"What?" I asked, extremely confused.
"I'm using this tonight," he replied, "This is amazing!"

I was in complete shock. I thought Hank would critique my package and have me change a few things, and if I was lucky, maybe he'd post it on WCJB's website. To my surprise, he wanted to air my package that night.

So, I called Robbie and everyone else I could think of and told them to watch the news at 6 and 10pm.

The next day, (yesterday) WCJB's assignment desk called me and said CNN picked up my story!
CNN Baseball Dreams

ESPN also picked up the piece! ESPN U Gators' No. 1 fan

I hope all who watch this are inspired by Robbie and his incredible story...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gators Give Back

I turned a package after I finished the documentary for "First & 15."  It's on ABC's website. Check it out!

Monday, May 4, 2009

My Spring Semester Has Officially Ended...

Interviewing Aaron Hernandez, Draft Day April 14 2009

It's 2:40am and I'm staring at the purple bows on my sheets and the high school shrine my mother has made of my vanity. I'm back home, lying in a twin-sized canopy bed I've had since the third grade. The spring semester ended this past Friday, and that means sorority house move-out, and summer move-in with the parents. But there is a silver lining. Interning in New York City this summer is still an option. I need to make some calls this week.

I got home about two hours ago. I was at the bureau till about 11pm, editing a story for ABC.

Before that I was squeezing my entire room into my car. It's a miracle Sparkles (my fish) survived the two-hour drive. I had a few close calls with him. I actually pulled over on the interstate when it looked like he was floating.

Prior to the big move-out, I was at Firestone getting new tires. And guess what? The television in their waiting area is set to WUFT....(all along I thought no one watched us). After about an hour of some great local programming, I decided to get up and watch the mechanic work on my car. He was no where to be found. Bored, I walked around the store checking out the tires. I was thinking about a story Brian Ross did on aged tires being sold as new. In his standup he showed viewers how to decode the digits on the tire that represent the manufacturing date. I couldn't remember what Brian Ross said but that didn't stop me from playing detective and investigating the tires anyway. I had to look closely because I'm blind as bat. Around my fourth tire, the man at the front desk cleared his throat and looked at me. I smiled and walked toward the garage.

My mechanic was back, and with a McDonalds bag in hand! For the next two hours I waited as the man at the front desk suspiciously watched my every move. I debated telling him, "I was just checking the dates on the tires," but realized that would be weird, and it'd be easier to let him think I was a tire-thief.

What compelled me to get my tires changed? Well last night after I left the bureau, I decided to get a burrito for dinner. I called my mom while on my drive, to complain about how stressed and tired I was. I quickly realized my car wasn't moving when I put my foot on the gas pedal. A glance at my gas gage...oh, what do you know, empty. I pulled over as my car slowly lost momentum. I started crying. My mom started to panic as she yelled at me for being irresponsible. It was when I called triple-A, and they asked for my location, that I realized I was in front of Shands hospital, blocking the turning lane into the emergency room.

The one-eyed man from University Towing was there in a flash. Yes, he had one eye. He looked like the old man who repaired Woody in Toy Story 2.

The one-eyed, Toy Story repair man look-a-like from University Towing told me my tires were bald. When I called my dad this morning he said, "ya know, you need to get new tires on your car before you drive home, they're pretty bald." Funny you say that dad...

So, it's been a long week. The picture at the very top of this post is from "Draft Day," one of the events during the week of First and 15. Shortly after that interview, my documentary was presented to over 1,000 people. To see first hand, my work touching the viewers, evoking their emotions; it was the most amazing feeling. All those eyes fixed, for 7 minutes, on something I created...I'll never forget that night. And it gets better, that Saturday, April 18, my documentary was shown a second time, at the Black Tie Benefit Dinner. But this audience was very different. The dinner was $1,000 a plate, so you can imagine what high rollers were in there. Guests included Governor Charlie Crist, James W. "Bill" Heavener, Coach Urban Meyer, and Erin Andrews. I stood in the back of the room and watched as hundreds watched my documentary. Later that night I was told by an athletic director that he's, "never seen so many people crying at the same time."

My spring 2009 semester of college has officially ended. I am in one piece, my family and friends are in good health, I got three A's and a B+, Sparkles is alive, I have new tires on my car and one amazing documentary under my belt. I couldn't have asked for a better semester.

Tim Tebow and I, Black Tie Benefit Dinner April 18 2009 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Matthew 6:21

Tim Tebow visits Prime Time

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:21

"First and 15" is a philanthropy that was developed last year by three UF students. The event includes a spring powder puff football tournament in the days leading up to the UF Orange & Blue Debut football game. The tournament raises awareness and money for two causes- the Pediatric Oncology patients at Gainesville's Shands Hospital and the orphans housed at Uncle Dick's Home in the Philippines.
Firstand15 website

Uncle Dick's Home was founded in 1991 by missionary Bob Tebow. Today the orphanage has over 50 orphans and Mr. Tebow continues his twenty-four year ministry in the Philippines.
All the Tebow children have been involved in the summer mission trips to the Philippines, including the University of Florida starting quarterback Tim Tebow.

Uncle Dick's website

I was asked to put together a documentary of Tim's latest spring break trip to the Philippines, (from March 8-March 14). It will be featured next week, (the week of "First and 15"), at two of the philanthropy's events.

God put this project on my lap, and I could not have prayed for a better blessing. I was given six tapes of footage that Tim and his friend David shot over the course of their trip. I had no idea what I was about to watch...

Inside my little editing-cave, I cried and laughed, I was inspired, angered, and motivated. What great stories these orphans had to tell. They just needed someone to listen. Their joy and love for life despite their dark and lonely past is amazing. The wheels were set in motion and I began piecing together a story.

I'm almost done with the final product, but I still have a lot of work to do before its perfect. For the past three weeks, I haven't been able to think about anything but this video. Images of these children's faces run through my mind, and I want to give them the voice they never had. I want this video to touch people's hearts, change their lives in some way that they are inspired to make a difference.

I needed some images showing how First and 15 is impacting our local community. So this past Sunday, I brought the creators of First and 15, (Tim, David, and Ryan) and my video camera to the East part of town, where we stopped at Prime Time, an after-school program that serves at-risk children.

I've been volunteering with Prime Time for the past three years. Over the summer I directed a Summer Vacation Bible School. Working with the kids has opened my eyes to reality, the truth about what goes on in our backyard. These kids are broken down from physical and verbal abuse, neglect, and poverty. They have no guidance, no encouragement, no love.

If I ever have a bad day, going to Prime Time makes me forget what I'm upset about. Walking in the room and having ten kids run up to give me a hug; their excitement and joy because I'm a familiar face that cared enough to come back. Words can't express the feeling that touches my heart every time I'm with these kids.

As I was writing my story, I took a break and opened my bible. Without a chapter in mind, I began reading the top of one page.

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also"
Matthew 6:21

The story of one football star's journey to save the forgotten children of the Philippines has no better opening. The six tapes of raw footage show young children holding onto the ever-fading hope of tomorrow. But the tapes also show a man's true colors, how his heart beats not for football, but for something far greater, his treasures at the end of the world.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Second Place!!

The winners for the 2009 Florida AP College Contest were announced this past Saturday, at the annual AP event in Orlando. I couldn't go, (tickets cost an arm and a leg, plus I had a lot of homework). Two of my stories did end up placing. 

SPJ Article 
I won second place for my "Sand Wars" feature, (Patrick Fleming was the photographer). 

AND ....

I placed second for my spot-news "School Bus Crash" story. I produced the entire piece- from filming and reporting, to editing. 

Here are my award-winning masterpieces... 

(Ok, that was super corny...but then again, it's 2 AM, and I'm blogging. I really need to lay off the coffee). 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"For ABC News on Campus..."

During Black History Month I was asked to attend a gala celebrating 50 years of Integration at the University of Florida.  I did a package on the event and ABC posted my story today.  Check it out. The slug is, "UF Honors Trailblazers"

My Story on ABC News!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I decided to google...

It's past 10:00 PM. I have a Climatology exam on Friday. I should be studying, but I decided to google. 

I googled my name. Yea I know, pretty lame. I was curious what would come up. In order of appearance: my facebook account, my blogger user profile, an article written by my friend Jill Shatzen, my "Gangs at Walmart" blog post, an online-candle I lit in memory of my best friend Giulia who passed away, and among other things, the list of finalists for the Florida Associated Press Broadcasters contest (link).  

On the second page, I came across a newspaper article written on the day I graduated high school (link). I was the salutatorian/class president of River Ridge High School's class of 2006, so I spoke at the ceremony.  I used audio clips to make my speech more colorful. Two or three minutes into my speech; a disturbance in the back of the auditorium. Too nervous to look up, I continued chugging along.  Turns out someone's grandfather had a heart attack. According to the article, he was able to walk out "with assistance" after the ceremony. I should have known something crazy would happen...welcome to my life. 

I remember somewhere in my speech, I spoke about the unknown journey ahead. Life is so weird. We're all traveling on this road-and along the way we make decisions that change our direction. For example, I was accepted into the University of Florida. So at 17-years-old, I left the security nest at home and moved to Gainesville. Our decisions directly effect our direction, but we can only see so far ahead. We can't predict the approaching obstacles, the people we'll encounter, the decisions we'll face.  I guess what I'm saying is, I've changed. I've grown to know who I am, and be confident in my skin. I know my purpose here on earth, and I owe that to my faith. I'm inspired and enthusiastic for life....

Who knew googling would be so deep :-)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"and with your daily dose of entertainment..."

A little dated, but an example of what I do. 


Monday, March 23, 2009

This is a project I HAD to do for my interactive media class...I repeat, this is a project I had to do for my interactive media class. I promise I don't have this much time on my hands :-) 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Gangs at Walmart

         I just received 4 emails and 2 text messages warning of potential dangers at our friendly neighborhood Walmart. One message reads, "DO NOT GO TO WALMART TONIGHT! I've been told a gang is initiating and planning to shoot 3 women." The scare is spreading around town. Apparently the local Target closed early. 
        This news makes for an interesting reaction package in tomorrow's newscast. I can interview girls in my sorority house, ask them questions like, "How did the message make you feel?" "Are you scared?" or "Will you go to Walmart again?" I'll call Summer Hallett, spokeswoman for the Gainesville Police Department, and see if arrests were made, or heaven forbid, shots were fired. 
I took my mother to the Gainesville Walmart a few months ago. She drove up with my little brother to pay me a visit. I remember the fear in her eyes when I responded "yes" to her concerned but serious question, "do you come here alone?"  
Gainesville, Florida has been my home away from home for the past three years. To me, its so much more than a college party-town. It was here that I took my first stab at being a reporter. I even anchored my own radio show last year, (from the hours of 4:00 AM - 7:00 AM, my voice could be heard on AM850, for the Morning Drive). 
According to, Gainesville, Florida is one of America's "Best Places to Live." Gainesville is home to National Champions- the Florida Gators. Sports are big in this town, as is the presence of college kids. We're everywhere. However, outside the bubble surrounding the University of Florida, Gainesville has it's fair share of problems. The East side of town for example, is extremely poor. The average household income for a family residing in East Gainesville is a little over $300 a month. That's crazy. The majority of children in public schools here qualify and receive free lunch. This year's state-wide budget cuts hit education in Gainesville, (or Alachua County) the hardest. 
The CNN article didn't mention these facts, not to mention recent gang violence. Did the "Gangs at Walmart" message shock me? Not at all. I've seen the real Gainesville. If you're curious and brave enough to travel down University Avenue, past the familiar restaurants and clubs downtown, you'll also see the real Gainesville. A great place to live for sure, however, without the University of Florida, this place wouldn't be the same. 

Monday, February 9, 2009


Big note in my mailbox today. I was accepted into the CBS 2009 summer internship program in New York City. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It's a Beast

      It was my first time "APing" the 5:30/6:00 show. Clock in at 3:30 PM. Say hello to everyone, 5 minutes. Check my facebook, 5  minutes. Oh, and my email too,  5 minutes. Return my mother's phone call, (big time killer) 15 minutes. It's now 4:00 PM.

  I'm an AP (Associate Producer) at Gainesville's local ABC affiliate, WCJB TV 20 News. My job includes cutting and editing video, and exporting it to the correct slot in the producer's rundown. Basically, whatever video you see, (other than the anchors on set), I put into the cast. I can AP the noon and 11:00 PM shows with my eyes closed. The 5:30/6, not so much...

It was chaos.  If it wasn't for one amazing producer saving my butt, there would've been a lot of black.  There's just so much more video to cut in the 5:30. On top of that, I have to create the teases at the top of each show. I was cutting video from CNS tapes, Pathfire, and our station's photographers. It was craziness. I single handedly disrupted the entire 5:30 show. 

The AP usually runs prompter for the show they work... I was so busy getting last-minute video into the cast, the producer for the 11 had to do my job and run prompter. I walked into the control room during the 6. I picked up prompter, (the 11:00 producer didn't look too happy).  

During a commercial break, I apologized to my producer, reminding him it was my first time working the 5:30/6.  He turns to me and says, "Yea, its a beast."

So what did I learn today? The 5:30/6:00 PM show is a beast... and television news broadcasting is a visual medium; if you have the responsibility of producing the majority of the visuals, GET TO WORK RIGHT AWAY, and most importantly, DO NOT call your mother. 

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cookie Dough

I was doing really great. I mean last night I ran to the stadium on campus, spent over an hour in there, sprinting up and down the stairs, end zone to end zone. Today I had the option of eating macaroni and cheese for lunch, and I went with salad, LEAVES over Betty's delicious macaroni and cheese. After lunch, an exam in Physical Geography. After exam, sprint to station. I was Entertainment Reporter tonight. The producer gives me the rundown...three slots to fill. One more than usual. Two packages and a VO on Sunday's Superbowl halftime show. Joaquin Phoenix, actor-turned rapper, was the lead in my Hollywood Minute. I was in the b-block. Great, I had all of the a-block to practice pronouncing, "Wa-keen Phoenix," "Wa-keen Phoenix," I must have said it 25 times.
We're live.
I read prompter, introducing my package, next thing you know...

Good one Kristin. Credibility out the window.
Before I start my Climatology homework, I open the fridge and
break out the cookie dough.
Three and half spoonfuls = 390 calories=2 laps around
the stadium.
It was worth it.

A professor of mine once said pursuing a career in television
increases ones chances of developing a substance abuse
Cookie dough could be dangerous...

Journalism isn't a job. Journalism is a calling. I was made
for this.
A job in broadcast journalism is my ultimate dream. News
is changing...
the business is not

what it used to be. One-man-band journalism is the norm.
In my
blog you'll read about my adventures reporting in Gainesville,
You'll be able to watch the

news packages I create and leave your opinions and critiques.
blog about everyday challenges, lessons learned, and my life,
as I chase a dream in a changing world.