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Editor’s Corner

Extreme Safety: Media Edition

MY INTENTIONS WERE PURE and my expectations were modest when I decided to write a story on the taping of an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition episode scheduled for late January and early February in Clay County.

That was before I came up against “April the Contractor” and her security staff when I visited the program site in mid-afternoon on demolition day.

At the outset let me say that the net result of what this program accomplishes is a very good thing. It puts a needy and deserving family into a new home where its old home once stood.The show is popular and I thought our readers might enjoy a story about it.

I have no ax to grind with “April the Contractor” or any of the other paid crew and local volunteers associated with the show. My purpose here is simply to let readers know about the challenges we sometimes face when trying to write a story. And I’ll attempt to do so in a humorous manner.

After shooting some photos of the demolition cleanup from a safe distance (had to use my telephoto lens), I was approached by a security guard who asked me who I was. I answered truthfully and his response to my response led me to believe that had I been working for an ABC affiliate, I could have continued without further interruption.But since I didn’t, he apologetically escorted me to a fenced-in area that was reserved for “other” media.

While standing a few feet outside the “media pen,” I overheard April tell an associate (Ron) that “all media needed to go behind the fence.” Moments later she noticed me and asked who I was. I should have answered that I was an ABC affiliate, but I’m an honest guy and my nametag would have given me away anyway. April requested that I go behind the fence and when I asked her why, she replied, “safety.”

There were about three people behind the fence and hundreds of people (mostly volunteers) outside of it. Most had hardhats on; I didn’t. But there was someone a few feet away holding a box of hardhats. Inexplicably, the safetyconscious April didn’t offer me one.

I then asked Ron to take me to see my friend, Bonnie, who was the volunteer public relations coordinator. We found her in the catering tent, which was about as far away as you could get from the demolition cleanup and still be on site. After I greeted Bonnie, another security guard rushed into the tent and announced that media weren’t allowed there. I immediately pondered calling the state Agriculture Department to report a food “safety” issue.

I walked back to the media pen, where my car was safely parked, and decided that I would leave the writing of this story to ABC affiliates or other reporters who preferred working behind the “safety” of a fence. I was told that the episode will air sometime in May. I’ll probably watch it.

For the record, Bonnie and Ron were ultimate professionals and tried to make my job easier given the circumstances.I wish I could have written the story. Hope this column will suffice.

(Ed Albanesi has been editor of FloridAgriculture since 1998.)