Get ready to Come and Take It Back

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It’s kind of funny to see the different perspectives in baseball team themes.

The Houston Astros, who won the World Series in 2017, have the theme this year of “Take it Back.” The Sugar Land Skeeters, who won the Atlantic League championship last year and is in possession of the league championship traveling trophy, has a theme of “Come and Take It.” Maybe it’s just me, but I find that funny.

The Skeeters are heavily marketing the Come and Take It theme. It of course ties into the start of the Texas Revolution in 1835 when the Mexican government tried to take back a small cannon it had given the townsfolk of Gonzales to defend themselves against Indians. The people of Gonzales rallied around the cannon and taunted the Mexican troops to “come and take it” and fired it and their muskets at them.

The incident is widely considered to be the first shots in the Texas Revolution (although I have a good friend in Brazoria County who will argue otherwise).

Some of my friends and I from the Texas Army (the state’s official Texas Revolution re-enactment group) will be at the Skeeters playoff game on Tuesday, Sept. 24, where we will appear in period dress and fire a cannon before the game.

Last Thursday I joined Col. Tony Tristan at Constellation Field where KHOU-11 was supposed to film a segment with us to help promote the playoffs. KHOU’s Jason Bristol and Matt Musil were there for a takeover of the broadcast booth that night. While Tony and I waited in the lobby for our big moment, they switched gears and did a segment on the Houston Texans instead. We met with them afterward.

Musil kept asking about a cannon and was interested in filming something with a cannon. This was all put together on very short notice and neither of us had a cannon. He did take a quick shot of us in front of a sign promoting the playoffs, but that was it. Nothing became of it.

I think Tony may have been a little more disappointed than I was about the turn of events. As a journalist, I wind up on TV news frequently. Since I’m a photographer at home games for the Texans, I wind up on TV nearly every game. It’s old hat.

In my experience as a newspaperman, I’m generally jaded toward TV types. I used to get excited whenever I appeared on TV. After experiencing the way TV reporters work and suffering the effects of their intrusions, I could quite honestly do without them. Several times they have swooped in on a story I’ve been covering and stolen the spotlight.

My first experience came about 30 years ago while I was covering a huge child sex abuse case in North Carolina. None of the people involved on either side of the case would talk to newspaper reporters, but the minute the TV cameras arrived, they suddenly wouldn’t keep quiet. People would pander to the TV cameras but shy away from us newspaper people.

It happened again about 20 years ago in Colorado. I broke and followed a story about a girl who accidentally brought a paring knife to school in her lunchbox. When she reported it, she was expelled due to the district’s zero-tolerance rule regarding weapons. I pretty much had that story to myself until the TV vultures arrived. Then I became persona non grata.

The same thing happens time and again at news conferences and other media events. TV gets the prime spots and first access. I get to point my camera under and around theirs and eavesdrop on their interviews to grab a quote or two. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll get an interview afterward.

As I mentioned before, I get to photograph Texans games. Covering the NFL like that is a dream come true and the culmination of a lifelong goal. I’m thrilled to do it, but the TV cameras and sound guys are killjoys. They have access in front of the still photographers and very frequently step in front of us to get their shots. I’ve lost many great pictures because a cameraman got in my way or the sound guys with those big, round contraptions blocked my view.

As an editor, I’ve even hired former TV and radio personalities as reporters. They generally have good reporting instincts, but 99% of them can’t write a news story worth a darn. I can always count on having to heavily edit their work. They are used to writing in a style that everybody hears but nobody sees, therefor their grammar is atrocious.

Please keep in mind that I am generalizing here. There are the rare occasions where TV people are considerate of their print counterparts and they do care about being factually correct and literate. For the most part, however, TV news is about entertainment and ratings.

That’s what gives me such an appreciation for what we do with weekly community newspapers. I get to report on local happenings and shed a light on things that are important locally but too trivial for TV. I may not like reporting about government meetings, but I see all the time the impact my reporting has on the community. It makes me feel good to know that what I do makes a difference and impacts lives.

I enjoy the benefits of having a weekly column and being able to photograph sporting and other events. I want to be there when the Astros take it back. I will be there when the rest of the Atlantic League tries to come and take it from the Skeeters. We’ll also be there as the Sealy Tigers Make Every Second Count on their drive for a state championship. More importantly, we’ll be there for you and the people of this community when it matters most, not just when the TV lights turn on.

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