So this was a letter I started to pen to a former co-worker who was now working at a rival TV station. I started this draft roughly about the time I decided to start SeattleSuperheroes.com. Eventually, I abandoned the idea and never finished the letter. Writing to a rival station in hopes of them getting the scoop just seemed in poor taste (and possibly against company policy).
The short version is my station wasn’t giving superhero stories the coverage I felt they could, so at least someone would be covering superheroes with all the tips I had. Realizing the professional conflict of tipping off a rival station, even if it was for stories my station would pass on, it propelled me to start my own blog on SeattleSuperheroes.
Identifying information has been removed/altered for obvious reasons.
Dearest Reporter Friend,
First off, forgive my loquaciousness, I unfortunately tend to be longwinded when it comes to things that interest me.
So, I have an interesting situation to ask your advice on sorta. Though I have a technical position over here at XXXX, I’m not really required to pitch story ideas, but I’m a team player, so I try to pitch an idea here and there from my little area of expertise. Unfortunately, my area of expertise is superheroes.
Now, I get it. Superheroes are kind of weird. It’s not everyone’s bag. And heck, I’ll admit, 9 out of 10 times, the stories I pitch are at best a VOSOT to be buried in the B block. Rarely is it even close to a lead story, just maybe a visually-appealing VO or possibly a colorful local kicker. But here’s the deal, when I pitch my ideas, I rarely get at least some professional respect about it.
A “VOSOT” stands “Voice Over, Sound on Tape” and “VO” is simpley “Voice Over”. Basically, it’s where the anchor reads the story while video plays, and the SOT portion is just a sound bite. Also, by this time, most stations had stopped using actual video tape, but the “SOT” name has stuck.
I would not care if my stories get shot down, I get it. I’ve been in the business long enough to know when something isn’t that big of a deal. However, I’ve had too many occasions where the desk has just given me lip service or even straight up lied to my face about covering something. If they think it’s a dumb idea or aren’t going to cover it, just just say so!
Just recently I was trying to pitch a story about a particular superhero team making an appearance at a SPD north precinct community picnic that the new police chief was going to be at. The producer that it was neat and even said she could really use a good 20-second VO.
In this particular instance, the assignment editor at the time even went as far to tell me that a photographer was on the way to a story. I later found out this was not so. This is actually very out of place for an assignment editor to do, so it was no surprise to me that this individual ended up leaving the news business altogether soon after this incident.
In fact, the only time I remember at least getting a professional courtesy was several years ago, even before Phoenix Jones was on the scene. I pitched the story of some Portland superheroes coming up to do a homeless outreach and the assignment editor listened and gave me a nice and honest answer. If there was no breaking news, they’d have just a photog cover it. It happened that there WAS breaking news, so nothing came of it, but I at least appreciated being heard and taken seriously, even if it was to tell that it was a low priority. Know who that assignment editor was? The wonderful “Mrs. Wonderful Assignment Editor.” Guess where she works? Hmm…
This particular assignment editor used to work with us all back at my station, but had since moved to this rival station.
Oh, and if you didn’t catch it there, I mentioned how I pitched a superhero story BEFORE Phoenix Jones made his first appearance. Superheroes had existed to some degree before, but mostly in Portland at the time. The particular group of superheroes referenced here with an iteration of “The Alternates,” a Portland-based superhero group led by Zetaman.
Speaking of superhero news coverage, I’ve noticed YYYY seems more likely than the other stations to cover superhero dealings. Case and point, back on “Free Comic Book Day”, I was dressed up as Captain America for an event and got recognized (with my mask on surprisingly) by a YYYY photog. His name escapes me, but we chat alot when we are on the same stories. Anyways, it was just a VOSOT, but it was a neat visual story, so it worked. Heck, even though it’s mostly on the web, Phoenix Jones has gotten some YYYY coverage as well as of late.
Ironically, the photographer mentioned here ended up leaving the rival station and came to work at my station soon after this. He’s a good guy.
There are 2 areas that I consider “superheroes”
1 – The group I generally fall into, The Cosplayers. This is groups like cbc4c.org that dress up as established fictional characters and do appearances for charitable events and such. This group does not think they are superheroes, they just dress and act like them…usually for charity and to make children of all ages smile.
2 – The other group, The Real-Life Superheroes. Yeah, let’s face it, this group is mostly Phoenix Jones and his dudes, but to be fair, there are a few other groups and “superheroes”. This group truly believes they are superheroes and (usually) come up with their own superhero persona and try to do good in some way, usually through night-time patrols and handing out supplies to the homeless.
Over the years, I have wondered if I should have covered group 1 a lot more, even to the point of downplaying group 2. Though that is another subject all together, I do hope to cover more information of the many amazing charity cosplay groups in the Seattle-area, as they have raised thousands upon thousands of dollars for various charities in the Puget Sound region. Truly real and measurable good has been done, and they do deserve due credit.
So, this was a look into my initial desire to have more “superhero journalism” back in 2014. After pitching stories and even writing a few my station’s website since roughly 2009, I felt it was time to take matters into my own hands and my own website. And that’s what you have here today.