Cameraman based in Edinburgh, employed by ITN, working for ITV's Good Morning Britain covering stories all over the UK and the world. War Zones, World Cups, Royal Tours and many other less exciting assignments, like interviewing current and ex Prime Ministers have kept me busy over the years working in Breakfast Television since GMTV came on the scene back in '93 and regional TV before that. In 2009 I began to record what it is like to work, the often strange and long hours needed to bring the hard news, human interest and fluffy fun to the UK's TV screens in the morning, mostly broadcasting live.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Another night of rioting in East Belfast


Tuesday 8th January 2013
Belfast

video
Last night's riot report in full

We were back on the UTV rooftop only fours hours or so after we had finished editing and sending the report and other shot sequences back to London.

We were pleased and surprised to see that a camera and light was already set up for the live broadcasts. There had been some mixup where UTV were not sure if Richard would be arriving with a cameraman. So, Alan, their operations manager had come in early to set things up.

At this early stage of the new contract that UTV had with ITV Daybreak they did not want any avoidable hiccups. 

We did a quick swap of cameras to allow me to use mine. The light stayed up which meant I would not have to use the camera top light.

As well as the broadcasts with Richard there was a guest. Moira Hedron an Alliance party councillor on Belfast City Council. She was to be interviewed down the line by Matt Barbet and Ranvir Singh in the Daybreak studio in London.
Richard getting ready to broadcast
After the first broadcast where Richard linked into the report we had done last night working into the early hours of this morning we were almost apoplectic with rage. The one and a half minute report full of great shots of the action and passionate views of some of the people of east Belfast had been hacked down to just under a minute.

Sometimes we wondered if it was worth the lost sleep and danger involved in getting the shots only for the story to be chopped because it needed to fit a particular time frame rather than sustain the time because of the power of the images.

It is the full unedited edit that is at the top of the blog.

Moira arrived nice and early for her down the line interview. I cabled her up and although she said that she had never done one of these types of interviews before she made her points well.
Moira standing by for her first ever live down the line interview
Viewfinder view of background of the live shot looking over Belfast as the light came up
Richard and I got over our initial rage but, not before he had made our feelings felt.

On most occasions when we send in edited reports and they are re-edited, unless the whole sence of the story is lost we just have to accept that this is the nature of the job. However, when the story has required something extra to get, especially if the something extra is risking injury it does get us rather angry.

This anger is usually, like this morning's, fairly intense but short lived because having reports edited is all part of what happens in a news environment and has to be accepted as part of one of the stresses of the job.

After the morning on the roof Richard and I caught up on a little missed sleep before heading out to get some extra equipment for the potential night of fun and frolics in East Belfast. 

Our safety adviser suggested that we get slightly better head protection than the little bump caps we had with us. 

It was advice offered with a wealth of experience and a nod to what had happened last night.
A couple of my media colleagues had sustained injuries, albeit fairly minor. 

One of these happened right next to me although I was unaware of it at the time being busy concentrating on the action in black and white behind the perceived safety of a viewfinder. 

A bit of rubble launched at the police line by one of the masked yobs had bounced off the road and hit the cameraman next to me quite hard on the knee. 

He limped on for the rest of the nights entertainment but, ended up having to take a trip to the A&E department to get checked out.

The good news was that there was no major damage. A bit of rest should sort it out. 

The other injury was similar minus the need to head to hospital. 

There was a hope that my nice stealth black helmet and knee pads would not even come out of the packaging because we were hearing that things were looking quite quiet. 

We checked out a couple of what are called "white line" protests. These are little pop up protests where a group of a few to a few dozen will stand and block a road for an hour or so.

They are largely peaceful and short lived although there is always the possibility for them to escalate given the right conditions. 

The ones we toured were doing their job of being disruptive but were calm and controlled.

Keeping our ears open for news from all our sources we sat down for a spot of diner. 

We were almost finished when the news of things bubbling up back on the Newtownards Road where we had been last night. 

The new gear was going to get an outing after all. 

Tonight's performance was a lot more subdued and short lived than last night's. 

There were of course a few fireworks, petrol and paint bombs along with bricks and stones of all sizes thrown. 

It was my turn to take a very minor hit from a half brick that was deflected by the side of a Land Rover on to my thigh.

Another large bit of rubble hit the road just in front of me bouncing harmlessly past my left shin.

The main excitement and possibility  of injury was when, in a team effort the boys hurled salvos of golf balls.

They pinged of the Land Rovers, the road, lampposts and walls zipping around us with a potential for pain. 

It was actually quite surprising that no one was hit given the density and speed of the balls. 

A voice from somewhere around us did raise a collective giggle. 

In the midst of this volley of balls came a loud shout, "is Rory Mcilroy over there?!"

That was the finale of the night's show. 

Not long after that things eased off and the guys started filtering away having had their recreation for the evening. 

We also wandered away to find out what Daybreak in London wanted and do a little bit of editing. 

In the hotel we watched News at Ten. I was pleased to see that one of my shots from last night, which had illicited great excitement from the folk at UTV when they saw it in our report in the morning was still making the ITV flagship national news programme at night.

After a few phone calls and discussions the plan for tomorrow had been formulated and the night's material was safely in London. 

It was going to be another short shift of sleep before going live using a satellite truck which had come up from the Republic of Ireland to do our broadcasts from outside the City Hall. 


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