The Friday Squad: My favorite story

I often ask people in TV News about their favorite story. Many times they didn’t even cover it. It’s always interesting to see great work from other reporters and photographers from stations around the country. I saw what would be my favorite story when I became an intern at WCCO-TV in Minneapolis all the way back in 2001 (seems like forever ago).

Old Logo and Slogan
This is the WCCO-TV logo and slogan from the late 1990s.

I worked alongside David Schechter at the time. David could cover any story and was out-of-the-box, wildly creative. His stand-ups were original and outstanding. He’s now a successful Senior reporter in Dallas (and I just came across his great website  David taught me how to tell a good story, create a great stand-up and just get the job done. They were lessons that have helped my career.

Back then, we worked in what used to be called the “Dimension” unit. It was housed in a small, dark, corner office stuffed with a 4-person team that produced dynamite investigative and other in-depth stories. The stories were often long-form and would sometimes run 5-8 minutes. Long-form stories seem to be a dying trend as more and more TV stations demand faster-paced, shorter stories to help feed viewer demand. Dimension no longer exists.

In that office I learned how to log tape…and a lot of it. It was tedious, boring and painful. No, it wasn’t the most glamorous job in TV, but at the time, it was TV…and walking through the halls was enough to make me giddy.

David often worked with Photojournalist Tom Aviles. I remember Tom as a really funny guy and one hell of a talent. I learned just how good he was in the first few months I started, while logging away on tape in the Dimension office. He had just finished up “The Friday Squad”, a year-long project he tackled that celebrated the ‘Memorial Rifle Squad’ at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minnesota. With Memorial Day around the corner, it’s a very fitting story to talk about.

Tom didn’t use any overly-fancy techniques or flashy graphics. He didn’t need them.  He knew the recipe for a solid story: homework, hard work, patience and a true story that could tell itself. He just let the story breathe. And his eye for great shots, sound and time lapse tied it all together. So much so, it won a national Emmy Award and he earned respect from reporters and photographers nationwide.

In honor of Memorial Day and all of the Veterans who fought for our freedom I’m posting the video so everyone can see it. It’s a great piece of work celebrating individuals who truly care about what’s important.

I miss the days of the dark Dimension unit office, the long-form stories and the giddiness of walking down the TV station halls for the first time (although that still happens from time to time).  As for logging tape?

I still can’t stand it. (:

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About the author

Josh Benson


Josh Benson


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