By now you've probably seen the video of somebody screaming a horrible obscenity into Gina Silva's microphone during her live shot at UC Irvine on Tuesday. Gina spoke up about the incident the next day. She said after it happened she was extremely shaken and wanted to cry. I can tell you that's absolutely true. I know this because I was the guy behind the camera - the news photographer assigned to work with Gina on that story.
I encouraged Gina to speak up about the incident because, as she wrote in her blog and discussed on Studio 11 LA, this is becoming a disturbing trend. Almost every day somebody screams the same thing near a location where we're working. Usually the person is driving-by in a car or riding on a bike, so what they're saying doesn't make it on the air. It's very rare to have somebody come within inches of a reporter and scream vulgarities right into the microphone.
Gina asked for help identifying the guy, and the response was overwhelming. We now believe he is a student at UC Irvine; from Chino Hills. We've emailed and called him. We'll let you know what he says if he agrees to speak with us.
Gina also sent me questions from our viewers about why I didn't do more to prevent the incident. I'd like to answer those questions by shedding light on how we work and what we face shooting the news - especially live shots - every day.
Let me start by explaining that there's a lot going on during a live shot. We have to make sure that we're sending a quality picture and good sound back to the station - so we're always monitoring levels both in the camera and on the live equipment. We have to make sure the lighting looks right and the shot is in focus. We are always looking out for potential problems. During Gina's live shot I noticed another person behind her who started making hand signs while the camera was pointed in his direction. This is something that happens often. I was concentrating on positioning him behind someone else just to be safe when the guy jumped in our live shot.
When someone disrupts a live shot we take it personally - probably just like you would if someone interrupted or harassed you at your job.
We're hoping this trend dies-off on it's own. But in the meantime, if you know people who think it's funny, remind them that a live shot happens because there are two real people at work who are just trying to do their job.