By Diane Ako
If I let myself, I miss the biz. I attended the 2010 Society of Professional Journalists awards dinner last Friday, June 25, and got to reconnect with some of my old colleagues again.
I don't usually go to that dinner. For most of my career, I've been working on a Friday night, or at the very end of the career, I needed to be asleep at dusk. "It could be our last chance to attend as an actual contestant. Let's go," nudged my co-entrant, Tracy Arakaki.
Tracy and I entered a piece together about a martial artist, Henry Smalls, which we titled Unlikely Samurai. Tracy shot and edited it. I wrote and voiced it.
I was lukewarm. I made a production out of going to San Francisco for the Emmy awards, only to - in politically correct parlance - not receive the statue.
Which then meant that I lived the rejection for a week. I tried to ignore it, but it was hard, since the only reason I was in San Francisco was to attend that dinner. I wasn't sure if I wanted to repeat another second place moment.
I don't need to be reminded of the painful patch that was the layoff. Because the stories I entered this year represent the last work I'll ever do for KHNL News8, the Emmy disappointment unexpectedly conjured up feelings related to my layoff.
Attending the SPJ dinner required far less commitment, but I told Tracy, "Not sure if I can handle it." But he insisted, and I gave in.
I'm glad I did. I had such a nice time - far better than I expected, and not just because I won an award. I got to see a handful of former colleagues, shoot the breeze, and remember what it feels like to be part of that fraternity. This is who I was for so long. This is where I lived for so long.
I forgot how much I loved the newsroom. I like our collective sense of humor: sarcastic, dry, witty, sharp, liberal. I've known some of these people for 14 years and I miss working with them. In a very small way, it felt like coming home.
So, I took first place in the features category for Unlikely Warrior. I also was a finalist in the same category for Butterfly Farmer. (I know, I competed against myself, but it was the only category that fit for both, so I stacked the deck.) That was fulfilling.
Here's what the SPJ website says:
Diane Ako, Tracy Arakaki, KHNL News 8, "The Unlikely Samurai"
Comments: Beautiful. Heartwarming and inspiring story. Story has all the elements. Perfect lighting, wonderfully edited. Great choice of music. Well written. Spot on transitions, Photography was phenomenal. Easily rises to the top at all of the other entries.
Diane Ako, Taires Hiranaka, KHNL News 8, "Butterfly farmer"
Marisa Yamane, Justin Kanno, KHON2 News, "Haunted Hawaii"
To that end, I would be remiss if I didn't thank Dolphin Sound's Ron Klohs for selecting the music on both those packages. Thanks, Ron.
I want to point out that KHNL News8 garnered the most television news awards. That's KHNL NEWS8, the old station, before it merged into Hawaii News Now. And 100% of the KHNL people who won those awards were laid off: me, Tracy, Leland Kim, Sisto Domingo, Taires Hiranaka, and Ed Matthews.
The only one of that list of names who has a full time job is Leland Kim, and he had to move to California and leave the media industry. I'm unemployed (no, I DO NOT WORK FOR Aloha Care; the commercials were a one time acting job), Sisto is in school learning a new trade, Tai works one or two days a week shooting news at another station, and I think Ed is still jobless.
There are a lot of talented professionals pounding the pavement. May my friends land another job soon.
I left the dinner and went back to my new life as a housewife and mother. My life is too busy to allow me to dwell on old times. Always, even in the first days after the layoff, I didn't have the luxury of moping. I have a toddler to care for. It propels me forward - for better and for worse.
But I have that moment, a brief night when I returned to the old me, and I savor that. Some days, when Olivia is just killing me and I'm up to my ears in Mommyness, I'll pull out that memory, unwrap it like a candy, and enjoy.
PS I finally edited the video from the May Emmy awards dinner in San Francisco. Here it is:
Also reach me via DianeAko.com