Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hope in Hartman

Nadeen, Steve Hartman and I


After work I drove over to campus, FOUND A SPOT next to the Florida gym, and sprinted straight to the Weimer basement, where inside the spiffy "NEW 21st century CMIR Newsroom" was Steve Hartman.

I felt like I was standing in front of the meat department at Publix. Minus the chill (21st century newsroom, no air conditioning) the place was filled with fresh meat; raw, graduating-in-thirty-days-journalists, glued to the seasoned network correspondent thinking, "he's so lucky he has a job."

Hartman began his career in what my classmates and I call the "good ol' days" of broadcast journalism, when working your butt off as an intern got you more than valuable experience. Hartman was a news intern at WTOL TV in Toledo, Ohio (market 73) then got hired as a general assignment reporter. I couldn't help but look around the room and think, as we enter the world of $19,000 non-negotiable two year contract, sign here one-man-band industry of television news broadcasting, oh what I'd give for a time machine! I'd take that puppy straight back to 1983, land an internship at WTOL, and be Katie Couric faster than Hartman could say "everybody has a story."

Okay that's a joke. Hartman is amazing- his storytelling has won him the highest accolades in journalism, from Emmys to Murrows, this man is THE master. However, the leg up I'd have on 1983-Hartman is the knowledge of the profession's dismal future, reality for 2010-Giannas.

Tonight Hartman gave me hope. When a student asked one of the most basic questions, "how do you do what you do," Hartman's response is what will keep me going, all the way to the top, with or without a time machine. He said it's all about genuinely caring, listening to someone's story and telling it from the heart.

It was at that moment I felt an amazing calm roll over me. I smiled, thinking the man with Murrows and Emmys, whose work has touched countless lives around the world, had inside him the same fire I was born with, a passion for people. Something you can't get at Publix.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Upon seeing the toy airplane I had worked so hard to get my photog Patrick and I aboard this morning, I immediately regretted my story pitch.

Imagine this: you're driving down I-75, and you see a cluster of state troopers a few miles up. You reduce your speed to 60mph, ten miles under the posted speed limit. You softly pass the state troopers, even contemplating a friendly wave. Just when you think you've made it past the hot zone, flashing lights in your rearview. You pull over, extremely confused at your alleged crime. The trooper hits you with a $250 speeding ticket, saying an AIRPLANE clocked you going 15 over.

Florida Highway Patrol uses airplanes to catch speeders on the road.
Basically an FHP pilot flies over a major state road like I-75, uses a stopwatch to clock drivers as they cross a series of lines, (determining their speed), then radios to troopers on the ground, who finish the job.

I thought it would be cool to get the pilot's perspective. So I made some calls and got Patrick and I aboard HP267.

"It's very windy up there," said our pilot, Sgt. Andy Foote as he was giving us the pre-flight briefing.

(Over spring break I went parasailing, so I figured parasailing, small plane, same thing.)

Foote had Patrick sitting in front, and me in the back.
"Here, take this, even though you probably wont need it," said Sergeant Foote, as he handed Patrick a small barf bag.

For the next thirty minutes, Patrick and I took turns filming. Sergeant Foote kept reminding us not to stare into the view finder for too long, saying we'd start feeling sick.

Foote had a good point, but I needed a shot of a car getting pulled over- a rather difficult task that required several takes.

After giving up on my money shot, I passed the camera up to Patrick. Nausea hit me like a mac truck. The feeling intensified. I started sweating profusely. HP267 started closing in!

I hit Patrick's arm, pointing toward his barf bag.
Patrick turns around and hands me the camera.

"No! THE BAG!" my sudden dramatic screech frightened both Patrick and Foote.

After coming back down to earth, I not only realized that I'll never make it as a pilot, but through Sergeant Foote's story, I saw how an extra set of eyes above the road, (and a barf bag) can be good things.

Click here to watch my story

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Goodbye UF!

Yesterday I was sitting in ethics, and the lecture topic was: "final exam review"
Aside from the uncomfortable stomach pain associated with the realization that I'm months behind in my reading, something else dawned on me...THE END IS NEAR! I graduate on April 30th, (and all along I thought I was graduating in May).

I must say, it's been an AMAZING ride. I'm so grateful for every experience, person, and story I've encountered during my years at UF. From meeting people like Robbie Lumpkins, and producing a documentary for Tim Tebow, to reporting on Destin's "Sand Wars," and producing a UF version of Michael Jackson's Thriller, I'll cherish every adventure for the rest of my life. I'm truly blessed. Go Gators!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


When I was little, I wasn't allowed to do sports. My mother was convinced that I wasn't a "sports girl." So for years my mission was to prove her wrong. It wasn't long before I realized what so many can't stand to confess; mama was right.

Katie, her dad Joe, and I
Father Daughter Dance, 4th grade

I wasn't like the rest of the girls. I was an extremely under-developed pipsqueak, a liability for any team. In sixth grade, when my friends started shopping in juniors, fitting into double-zero's, I was still in kids. When the girls started wearing bras, I was waiting for "breast buds." You can imagine how hard it was for an awkward middle schooler growing up in Queens, going to school with kids not afraid to "tell it like it is." Thanks to my older brother, I was fortunate enough to have nicknames like cardboard, big head, (my head was the only thing that seemed to grow), and the infamous, "zoop-zoop," which, with the hand motions, meant flat on either side.

My sports career officially ended when I decided to try out for the softball team in seventh grade. Coming home with a missing tooth and black eye brought my mother close to a nervous breakdown, and me, closer to tap dancing and ballet.

Fast forward to 2010, I was asked by my coworker if I'd like to join TV20's team in the annual
company kickball game. You can imagine my excitement-it's been years since the seventh grade, when I hung my bat and retired from the sports world! I'm taller, stronger, and well, way COOLER, and the best part- someone wants me on their TEAM?!?

Here's the video I produced, highlighting the experience as a member of TV20's kickball team:

Eating brownies on the sidelines, (I told everyone they were protein brownies)