After Garin Flowers came to visit my Broadcast News class, I knew I wanted to interview him for my field experience paper. He was enthusiastic when talking to us, and I had seen him get an award at the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists Griot Drum awards ceremony shortly before.
I contacted him, and right away I got a response with him saying we could meet for lunch at Clean Eatz for an interview.
Garin is currently a Multimedia Journalist, who works with a team of five reporters. They have about two weeks to create a two to five minute long package. This enterprise team does long form storytelling, and this way Flowers and his team can have better research for more compelling stories. His typical day consists of waking up and heading to the station to set up interviews, get the story, write the script, and he takes days to edit. Because his team gets a longer amount of time to work on their stories, they get to present very unique stories with a lot of artistic and creative shots. Their videos then usually air during shows throughout the day. This allows for the video to be featured for as many audiences as possible.
Here are a couple of examples:
Before Garin Flowers landed his job at Channel 10 News, he attended Northwestern University to receive his Master’s degree in Journalism. At a news conference, he built connections with the man who is now his current boss. Shortly after, a position opened at his current news station and when he applied, he did not get the job. This allowed Flowers to become a professor at the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University for two years. He had always wanted to teach so it was the perfect time for him to do so. Six months later, that same position opened again, and he reapplied and got the job. He started his career as a reporter for WCTV in Tallahassee.
“I reported there for almost two and a half years, 10 News and First Coast News in Jacksonville took me on as their state capital reporter, also based in Tallahassee,” Flowers said. “After covering state lawmakers in Tallahassee, I joined the 10 News team in Tampa Bay.”
However, when Garin first started out at 10 News in Tampa, he was a news reporter. He would pitch a story in the morning or would be assigned one. After that, he would go to the location and write, report, shoot, and edit the story and turn it in to the station.
He currently has a certificate in Media Management. On top of that, Flowers was nominated by the Florida Associated Press for an award.
This year he won in the Florida Associated Press Broadcasters Professional and College Contests. He received an award in the feature/light news category for a video titled Grieving Mom Receives Free Car from Stranger.
Here’s the video:
Not only that, but Garin has also received a General TV News award from the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists for his story on what you should do when you get pulled over. That video was creatively shot with the police officer being shown through the side mirror of a car. There were many interesting angles and the package very visually polished. Garin’s work often gets recognized for its compelling footage. This year he is also nominated for an Emmy award.
Here’s his story.
With his many accomplishments so far, he is a perfect fit for Channel 10 News. Garin believes that the station’s goal is to, “help the community get through life’s issues together.” They strive to reach out to more people in the community and by telling good community stories. The news station tries to report about deeper issues, and cover much more than just the surface. The station is also heavily involved in volunteer work.
For example, during hurricane Irma, there was a woman with a leaking roof and the station went and bought her a tarp. They also tended to the electricity needs for many of the affected Floridians during the hurricane. Another more recent example is the station’s concern for the homeless people living around Seminole Heights. WTSP-TV tries to report in a way that makes the community feel like they are, “in this together.”
For all the creativity that WTSP-TV displays, they are actually a very small station. Everything about the station reflects the beauty of Tampa bay, from the graphics to the stories covered. The station is in St. Petersburg on Gandy boulevard, with a little over 100 employees. Since Garin is a 2009 alumnus from the University of South Florida, he says that the station is like the size of the Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communication.
Here’s where the station is:
Channel 10 News has several long-term goals. The first is to reach a younger audience. The second is to become, “the online news source.” This will happen as they continue to improve their digital performance as well as their online content. Their third long term goal is to stand out. The station prides itself on the different stories it airs and wants to be known for covering unique stories.
With WTSP-TV’s long-term goals comes its challenges. Right now, ratings are going down for broadcast television everywhere. They want to learn how to monetize their digital content while still monetizing television content. Because ratings are dropping, Channel 10 News wants to figure out a way to get those viewers from television and move them to their online platform. The television station also suffers from weak branding, so it is currently working to build a strong brand while revamping the website as well.
Garin Flowers is gaining more online popularity since his latest story has gone viral. The news story was about a man named Adam Wheeler who now considers himself to be Ja Du, a Filipino. Ja Du began a Facebook group for a growing number of people who also find themselves wanting to identify with another race.
“The term was normally used to describe someone (or a couple) of a certain race adopting a baby of another race,” said Garin. “But, now after the story of Rachel Dolezal, it’s becoming associated with someone who identifies with another ethnicity or race.”
Here’s the video:
Garin prefers to cover stories that are out of the ordinary because they are great conversational stories. This video currently has over 8,000 views online and the story has been circulated through different news sources such as Daily Mail, NY post, and many others. Each of those sites also have thousands of shares as well. With over 8,000 tweets and 2.5k followers, his presence on Twitter is rapidly increasing as well.
He advises students to take advantage of all the equipment the University of South Florida has to offer. With the many tools students have, they should be able to put together a resume reel that will be professional and can help them get great opportunities out of college.
Another piece of advice is to make connections with everyone because networking is one of the best ways to get a good job. When you are nice to people, they are more likely to want to help you and if they cannot, they can at least lead you to someone who can.
The final piece of advice is to be bold. If you want to get good coverage, get close to people and immerse the camera in the environment for better shots. The closer you are to the subject you are filming, the better your final product will look. It will be uncomfortable from time to time, but you must try to get out in front and do whatever you can to get the best story.
From my time with Garin Flowers, I learned a lot about being a multimedia journalist. He prefers his current job that allows him to spend more time on his videos rather than the demanding rush that comes with regular broadcast television. He also stresses the importance of social media, and how digital media can enhance stories and allow them to reach a larger audience. Overall, Garin Flowers is a great example for students who want to become young, charismatic multimedia journalists because of all his work on several platforms.
He is always giving back to USF students like myself, and keeps up with our football team.