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It's Breaking. We're Landing.

I tell you what's up in my life, running through my head, and keeping me passionate.

Covering JFK Airport's Chaos🤯😳

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JFK you a dub!! 😪 🙅🏾‍♂️ 

*were

No matter where you read this blog from, I'm sure you know about the chaos that was New York City's JFK Airport for over a week.  It looked a little like this:

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  • A sea of luggage scattered like clumps of cheese in pasta across a number of places in a number of terminals.   
  • Frustrated passengers -- some of who had been stranded for days (some with children) -- in search of any way out, begging and yelling at airport/airline employees.
  • Crowded airport roadways with impatient New Yorkers beeping their horns at the cars ahead -- going nowhere fast.
  • Closed off areas due to flooding caused by a water main break.
  • Delayed and cancelled flights galore from a bomb cyclone weather event.  

I knew of the nearly four-day long aftermath of lost bags, and flight disruptions caused by the bomb cyclone when I heard my last and final straw -- a water main break flooding part of Terminal 4.  Before this, planes were getting diverted from JFK like a vegetarian dodging meat.  I knew this water main break would intensify the situation, so I shot a text to my boss at AirlineGeeks who thought a report from the scene would serve as a great addition to our coverage.  

I was comfy in my PJs and ditched them for the 17 degree temps and an Uber ride into the breaking news.  When I got to the scene I immediately started filming Instagram stories because one thing I believe in is being social and telling the story from the moment you arrive.  I'm also just obsessed with the gram. 🤷🏾‍♂️  This report taught me that you also never know how that footage will come in handy.  It was helpful to have that video when putting together the actual report.

I called Port Authority's Media Hotline to request permission to do a standup which is standard procedure for Port Authority facilities because filming isn't really allowed on any of the airport property.  So, if a police officer or other official were to come up to me and my equipment, having called and got the permission -- there should be no problem.  I've experienced issues even when I have called, so doing so is always at the top of my mind.

I waited over an hour, saw an airport friend, assessed the situation, wrote my script and continued updating you all on social media.  I called back, they cleared me, so I headed outside to do the stand-ups which would open and close the report aka the front and tag.  Yes, even when you get clearance you still must film from the parking lot.  If you watch the news, notice, you'll never see reporters live inside JFK airport.

The cold was bitter.  I saw NBC News' Morgan Radford getting ready to go live on NBC Nightly News, and WCBS-TV's Ali Bauman getting ready to go live for the Tri-State.  And then there was me, inspired, but freezing my butt off trying to do the same work...just without any help!  HA - no.  I at one point took off my gloves because I felt they were impeding the efficiency of my work.  I *really* wanted to get back inside.  And although I charged it for an hour as I debated doing this whole thing, my camera battery was dying...and fast.  The cold weather seemed to be hurting more than just me and my gloveless fingers.  All the while, I'm trying to put on make-up, and I have people looking at me, coming over -- one person even wanting to talk.  "Would you like to speak with me on camera about this?" I asked after awhile of answering his questions with the little information I had.  "AHA, noooo poppy!" he laughed.  😑

I also needed to have a good gist of what I was going to say and how I was going to deliver it.  I was working with two separate units -- audio and video.  My equipment is too cheap to chance the whole thing by connecting the two!  If one were to go out...there goes the entire report!  The cherry on top?  I had to keep an eye on Ali to ensure I got to introduce myself after she hopped off live TV.  She had emailed me advice about a year ago after I reached out and it was wild cool to see her in action!  "You need gloves!" she exclaimed.  "Haha, Ali, what a thought!" I said to myself.

My equipment is too cheap to chance the whole thing by connecting the two!  If one were to go out...there goes the entire report!
— malick mercier

I learned she was more than right.  I finished, went inside, sat on the floor and almost broke down crying.  ❄️MY FINGERS WERE GOING TO FALL OFF.❄️  I was sure of it, and it got worse before it got better.  It took probably about 20 minutes before I actually felt okay again.

I headed back out to catch just one more shot from atop the garage, and "there goes that eyewitness news van again!"  I got to hang out at WABC-TV a ton as a high schooler so today, there's always a good chance I'll know someone in any of their live trucks!  This time, I knew the reporter and the photographer!!  CeFaan and Ron are a kind duo that offered me warmth, and their professional light to help me re-do my stand-ups so they could be lit ;).

I left them with my gratitude and boarded the AirTrain for Terminal 1 to see if things were a mess there for a colleague that had tweeted me he would be flying out the next morning.  -- Yes, I engage *this* much on social while going through everything else. -- I also had to work up the courage to ask people to speak with me on camera aka my iPhone camera.  Luckily, the two people I asked said "Sure!" and they helped the piece come together greatly.

All of it always pays off, as it's SO COOL to get to be a storyteller.  You can check my news package out below!  I'd love your thoughts.

Thank you for reading.  

 

With ❤️ and gratitude, 

Malick