Rachel Pupazzoni

Storm reporting


I spent most of today at Collaroy Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches reporting on the storm damage caused by the East Coast Low at the weekend. Here’s a snapshot of how it happens.  There’s a gallery if you don’t feel like reading. 🙂

7pm Sunday: I take a call from Joe at ABC News Breakfast to discuss the plan for Monday’s program.  I’ll need to start half an hour earlier than usual so we can be sure to be on location ready to lead the program with a live cross at 6am.  We tentatively decide that my crew and I will head to Narrabeen, with the expectation that may change depending on what happens overnight.  I start my sleep prep routine.  Setting the alarm for 3.29am and booking a taxi for 20 minutes later.  (Yep, I know that’s a random time for an alarm).  Joe contacts the cameraman I’m working with tomorrow, John and our links operator, Yudhana to give them the update.

3.29am Monday: My first alarm goes off.  I’m awake before it anyway.  I start browsing my emails to see if there’s any update.

3.30am: The second alarm goes off.  I’m up and getting ready.  I make a last minute decision to put on hiking shoes (that proved to be the right decision), grab my kit, including change of clothes and gum boots (best to be prepared!).  Meet waiting taxi.

3.55am: Arrive at work.  Slap on some makeup.

4.20am: I’m at my desk frantically looking for updates to see if Narrabeen is the best location to go to – AKA the worst affected area within a reasonable distance from work.  I call Stuart who’s taking care of live crosses for News Breakfast to discuss the plan.  (News Breakfast is based in Melbourne).

4.30am: I chat to ABC colleagues in the Sydney newsroom including the overnight radio reporter, radio sub editor and another TV reporter, Jo, who’s come in early. James the overnight reporter tells us he’s heard unconfirmed reports from the SES that houses have come down in Collaroy.  I make the decision to head there and join John my cameraman to hit the road.

5.20am: John and I arrive at Collaroy and quickly scope out the scene.  It’s pitch black and hard to see, but we can already tell the waves have caused some damage.  John knocks off a few shots of taped off houses.  Residents were evacuated from those homes last night.

5.35am: We choose our spot and start to set up for our 6am cross. John and Yudhana work quickly to set up the gear and establish a link to the Melbourne newsroom.  I gather my thoughts about what I’ll be saying in my first live cross.

6.00am: We cross live to News Breakfast where I talk to presenter Del Irani about the impact of the storm at Collaroy as well as elsewhere in the state.  After the cross I tweet a bunch of pictures.  They aren’t great because it’s still very dark, the sun is yet to show its face.  But urgency is key in this job and I get out what I can ASAP.

6.20am: I write a voice report for ABC radio news and email it to the newsroom for them to check.  They email it back.  I record my voice on my phone and email the audio to the newsroom.  The story will run in the 7am news bulletin.

6:30am: It’s starting to get a little lighter so I take a bit more of a look around.  I interview a local resident who tells me this is the worst he’s seen the beach since the 1967 storm that swept through.  John shoots some more pictures and we send the lot to Melbourne.

6.45am: I do an interview with Michael Brissenden, the host of ABC radio current affairs program AM.  We’re on standby for another live cross at 7am for News Breakfast in case the planned SES cross falls over.

7.00am: We don’t hear from the News Breakfast team so assume we’re clear.  John shoots more pictures.  I write another radio voice report.  Email the copy.  Get it back.  Record my audio and email that too.  It will run at 7.45am.  I take more photos and tweet them.

7.20am: We set up for another live cross to News Breakfast.  My colleague Jo who went to another location will also be live with me, colloquially known as a ‘three-way’ – 1 for me, 1 for Jo, 1 for the presenter.  Jo’s crew is having some technical issues, so we go ahead with our cross.  As I’m thanked by Del at the end of my cross I hear she puts a question to Jo.  They must have sorted their technical issue.

7.40am: I walk a little further along the beach and take more photos.  I start taking photos of the weird things that have washed up on the shore and tweet them. The ABC digital team is closely following my twitter account so they can rip my photographs and use them on the ABC website.  It’s easier for me this way. It means I don’t have to email them directly.  It’s one less step in a frantic morning.

7.45am: ABC NewsRadio calls to do a live cross with me.  I chat to presenter Sandy Aloisi about the scene before me.  I get back to my tweeting.  I chat to more locals who’ve come to check out the scene.  None of them will go on camera.

7.55am: I jump back in front of the camera for another live cross with ABC News Breakfast at 8am.

8.10am: I chat to the Newsgathering Editor, Albert, (except he’s french, so it’s Al-bear. I always say bon jour instead of hello when I speak to him.  He always politely laughs. I’m sure he finds it extremely annoying.)  I check if ABC News 24 (N24) needs us at 9 for a live cross.  He says to take a break from live crosses and focus on some news gathering.  John and I head up the beach to film some more pictures.  I take a call from a colleague in the newsroom who gives me Professor Ian Turner’s number.  I call him and John and I jump in the car to go interview him further up the beach.  Yudhana gets me a coffee.  It’s the first thing I’ve eaten or drunk all day.  (I still owe him some cash!)

9.00am: I interview Professor Turner from the University of New South Wales.  He heads a team that has been assessing coastal erosion at Collaroy for 40 years.  I hang up on two phone calls during the interview.  I later find out it was Albert hoping we might be able to do a last minute cross for N24.  Whoops!  John and I head back to our spot and send the interview back to Sydney.

9.50am: We set up for a live cross to N24 for 10am with presenter Joe O’Brien.  By this stage council workers are at the beach starting to clean up.

10.15am: John and I finally manage to convince some local residents who’ve come to the beach to talk to us.  We get a few interviews in the can.  Known as voxxies or vox pops.  I’m not sure why.  We send them all back to Sydney.  I spot a pregnant woman who has come down to the playground at the beach with her two young daughters to clean up the debris there.  I ask her for an interview.  She politely refuses.  I’m astounded by her commitment to her community.  She’s 7 months pregnant and busily cleaning up so the kids have a safe place to play.  What a woman!

11.00am: The council workers have closed the area where we are to the public as they clean up.  I tweet more photos.  After a while they tell us we have to leave too.  John and I quickly film what’s called an ‘as live’.  It looks like a live cross, but it’s pre-recorded.  This will be for N24 to run in the afternoon.  We leave the car park and look for another area to set up for our midday crosses.  We don’t move far.  Just to the park next door.

11.30am: Yudhana starts to power up the truck again to get our live signal out.  The truck isn’t working.  He can’t get it up and running.  We’re slated to do a live cross at 1205 and then a live interview at 1230.  I ring Albert and ask him to tell everyone to start organising a Plan B. Yudhana and John tinker around with the truck.  I stand there, pretty useless.

12.10pm: We give up.  Yudhana starts to pack up but he tries it one last time.  The truck seems to be working.  I’ve missed my live cross, but we can get set up for our guest.  Dr Mitchel Harley meets us at the park and we get him ready for 12.30.  (Check out Dr Harley’s Twitter account for some great images @DocHarleyMD)

12.40pm: The Premier Mike Baird arrives and starts a media conference.  Once we finish the live cross with Dr Harley we run over to catch the rest of Mr Baird’s conference and send that back live.  Once that’s done we send the ‘as live’ I’d recorded earlier.

1.30pm: We are replaced by another TV crew.  We do a handover and John and I start to pack up. Yudhana has left too.

2.30pm: John and I arrive back at the ABC. Its’s been 10 hours since we left the station this morning.

3.30pm: I arrive home and have something to eat.

Day done 🙂





Author: rachelpupazzoni

I'm a journalist living in Sydney.

5 thoughts on “Storm reporting

  1. Vox pop comes from Latin ‘vox populi’ meaning ‘voice of the people’. (As opposed to an expert or the authorities)

  2. You are a news MACHINE Pupa

  3. Great report .. I missed your live crosses, but very comprehensive

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