Airtime for Terry
The phone call came at 5: 30 pm. The English translation of the president’s press release had arrived in the newsroom. Could I help?
At this point I had been up for two days screening air checks and working both sides of the TV/radio fence during Bob’s recuperation. I was desperate for a little rest and a bite to eat.
But this was a learning moment. If somebody was going to change the press release and risk the consequences it was going to be me.
Waseem’s package feed was a yawner that ran six minutes! When the president delivers remarks in English, the reporter translates the entire speech into Dhiveli over wallpaper video of people sitting in the audience. Then they run the entire speech in English. Waseem did follow my instructions to do a standup, but after that the piece was just the home movie of more official events, and no narration.
However, the speech included a moving soundbite in which the president dedicated his environmental award to the brave Maldivian people who lost homes and family members in the 2004 tsunami. The ingredients for a package were there, so Rameez and I made minimal changes in Waseem’s Dhiveli script and I went to work on the English version. Except there was no English-reader available to track it. So… Rameez insisted it was my turn. And besides, I reasoned that I could take the fall if any government officials decided to complain. Blame it on the stupid American consultant who doesn’t know any better. Total length of package: 1:25 including natural sound pops and a :20 soundbite.
At 9 pm, a pretty and soft-spoken part-time news reader named Leena read the introduction. And I held my breath. My American reporter track boomed out of the speaker sounding more like CNN than TVM. It would be impossible for anyone watching to miss the fact that this was not the usual uncut press release. But there was no angry phone call. We high fived. This was a big step forward.