Panhandler Encounter Highlights Day 1 Experience

On the first day of my work with Woodlawn High School in East Birmingham, a panhandler interrupted my television interview.

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BIRMINGHAM–  It’s Fourth of July, but I have just had an interesting experience conducting an interview outside of the Woodlawn High School in East Birmingham.

The goal today was to gather some “Fresh” video that could be used in a video exercise for the students.

I met my interview subject at the school at the appointed time.

We set up the camera and proceeded to conduct the on-camera interview.

Suddenly about two minutes into the recording, the woman I was interviewing looked away to someone behind me.

I looked back and a man with a dog was there.  He asked “Excuse me, you from the cable company.  I’m looking for a job.”

When I explained that I was not from Birmingham and that I didn’t work for the cable company, he proceeded to ask if I could spare some change for him to get some food.

When I declined, he walked on down the street.

The woman, who went to Woodlawn High School explained that is very common here in the East Birmingham community.

The interview went well, at least I thought.

When I returned to Tuscaloosa, I discovered the windy conditions had seriously affected the production quality of my video.

But,  perhaps there was something we could salvage from the video.

Maybe the lesson learned on this first day was NOT about the interview, but the residents in this community in which I was a visitor.

Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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