By Shoukat Zardari, AWAZ-TV Anchor from Karachi, Pakistan
It was really a wonderful start on Thursday with high expectations. When I came to station, I knew they were hosting a group of 40 visiting leaders from the Leadership Chattanooga program.
They had come from different organizations in order to tour and meet with Channel 3 employees. Just after the meeting I asked my news director about any assignment for today. He told me that one of our reporters, Gordon Boyd, will be covering the death of two construction workers at a new factory.
Before we left, I met a man who had brought two horses to the station to appear on an entertainment show. I had my picture taken with this man who dressed like a real American cowboy.
The factor death story seemed interesting because in September, we had a major incident similar to what happened at the U.S. Wacker factory. I found it interesting because I had to learn how U.S media covers these kinds of issues. I was told that it will go live on the air so that also made me more excited about the coverage.
When we reached the location we were told to stay away and no one was giving us any statement on camera or off camera. That is the same kind of attitude we face in Pakistan. Everyone kept on saying that the management will send a press release. But Gordon did not let it go and it became an investigating story. His actions and his way of finding what exactly happened and how it did happen really surprised me. I kept on telling him stories regarding field work in Pakistan.
The way he was calling authorities was totally professional and he was not offending them as Pakistan journalists do sometimes if they are asked to stay away or not receiving a statement. In Pakistan, reporters don't care who's property it is. In the U.S., a journalist in the field cannot get into anyone's property until you get permission to cover it. That goes for major or minor incidents.
The other interesting thing was going through the all angles and relevant individuals. Fortunately we got a medical examiner and he shared something with us which was enough to start. We parked our live truck somewhere there near the plant and went to nearby Cleveland to meet the examiner. After that, I could feel Gordon's hunger for the news and he did not leave a single chance to get through the factory management. He even tried until the last few minutes, and at the end he presented in a very accurate manner.
Another journalist from WRCB, Callie Starnes, met us and I came to know that she was working on other angles of the story. I later learned this is called team coverage. She was working on the history of the company and was investigating these kinds of safety violations by the company in the past. It was not only a great experience to work with both of them but it was something to be learned.
I cannot forget to mention our photojournalist Ramsey Fulbright. He did four jobs in the day. He did his camera work, edited the video for the news package, and operated the satellite to send live feed. He was the driver too. If I was in Pakistan, I could have carried at least three other people for the job. Thanks to Ramsey and his other photographer colleague, Lee Broome, for helping me to know about efficient use of human assets.
When we were done with our work there for Channel 3, I had an opportunity to send something to my channel. There is a lot to learn from my new journalist friends here so I thought I should share there experiences with my friends in Pakistan. That is why I interviewed both Gordon and Callie about the story and their way of covering it.
At the end, I went back to the station and then to my hotel.
Editor Note: Shoukat Zardari is visiting WRCB for the month of October to learn about U.S. media coverage. He is part of a foreign journalist visitor program supported by the U.S. State Department. WRCB is one of 14 American media organizations hosting a Pakistani journalist. Click here to learn more about Mr. Zardari's visit.