|Citizen journalist Rhoda Young, reporting on Facebook Live|
from a Norfolk, Virginia house fire. gets a journalistic
scoop and reports it very colorfully.
Rhoda Young recently had one of those moments.
As far as I can tell, Young is not a terribly experienced journalist. She's just a person who likes to tell others what's going on in her town.
So she sprang into action (with her husband as cameraman) when a house in her hometown of Norfolk, Virginia recently erupted into flames.
Young took to Facebook Live to give her full reports. In local journalism, raging house fires like the one Young encountered are given prominent display and are viewed, read, and clicked on by many people in the community. It's big news.
OK, Young isn't the best at maintaining her journalistic composure. She dropped a couple of big F-bombs when part of the burning house she was reporting on collapsed. But that's OK. We can all handle that.
Young does have a good journalist's curiosity and she does know the right way to ask questions, so she started asking questions and observing some interesting things when she spotted a man sitting on the grass across the street from the blazing house. The man was sipping on a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
She asks the man, "Is that your house?"
He said. "Yes"
"Oh, God bless you," Young replied. Then quick with the followup question: "Lemme ask you this: How did it catch on fire? Were you home?"
The man said something unclear, but it sounded like he said he wasn't home with the blaze began. He indicated he discovered the fire when he came back from the store, where he purchased his PBR.
|Donald Stricker is charged with arson, in large|
part to citizen journalist Rhoda Young's
colorful Facebook Live reporting from the scene.
A few minutes later, Young, undeterred, took a closer look at the man, who tried to wave her away. She noticed he had minor burns, and some of his hair was singed off. Turning to her Facebook Live camera, she delivered the scoop: The man was lying, he was there when the fire started, and did he set the fire?
Or as she put it, "I now discovered, his motherfuckin' hair was on fire....so he was right there when the fire started, and he's got a six pack of goddamn PBR. Now I gotta figure out how he started that goddamn fire."
Again, not the way your Eyewitless (ha) News team from your local television station would have put it, but she got the message across.
Then, on camera, she tells a fire official: "I did an investigation on the fire and I know how it started."
The fire official initially dismissed Young, as they were busy dealing with the fire. Young accepted that, as she could see the firefighters were pretty busy. She briefly points the camera at the guy, who tried to wave her away again.
Young then reports on camera: "Once again, that's the homeowner, drunk as a motherfucka, He burnt down the whole fuckin' house."
That's not how I or any other "real" journalist would report on an incident like this, but her style is what would be going through mine and every other journalists' head. We all wish - just a little bit - we could explain the situation like Young did.
Authorities at the scene, at the behest of Young, did turn their attention to the man, and Young captured, on camera, the man being arrested on arson charges. immediately suspected the same. And Young pointed the camera at the man, named Donald William Stricker III as we was arrested, handcuffed and charged with the burning of an occupied dwelling.
Awesome scoop Rhoda: Here's the highlight reel of Young's reporting. Again, it's NSFW, but it is so worth the watch, especially if your yearning for a local TV news report that tells it like it really is, bluntly: