CBS 11 News producer and TCU alum Kent Chapline told broadcast journalism students about his experiences in Hurricane Katrina on Tuesday night – both as a field producer and as a husband and father of two.”I deal with stress on a daily basis, and I deal with it pretty well,” he said. “But this is a different kind of stress.”
Chapline said CBS 11, a station in the seventh largest market in the country, sent him with two reporters, three photographers and two engineers to cover the hurricane.
He and his co-workers lived in an RV for about two weeks, Chapline said. They would have stayed longer but had to return to Texas to cover Hurricane Rita.
“I worked 18-hour days and saw wrecked houses and ruined lives,” he said. “Stories like this can wear on you quickly.”
Chapline and his crew drove around and witnessed much of the destruction in New Orleans before heading to Port Sulphur, La., to show a story about a small town that was swept away by the Mississippi River.
“It stinks like nothing I can describe,” he said. “It was overpowering. There was no escaping it.”
He said the smell of the silt washed up from the bottom of the river was a big sensory experience for him but was difficult to portray through television.
Chapline covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and the Oklahoma tornado in 1999, what he called “the strongest tornado in the history of the world.”
He has seen his fair share of tragedy but would go back and do it again in a heartbeat. That, Chapline said, is what separates him from others and makes him a journalist.
Senior broadcast journalism major and broadcast club president Darcy Deupree said she is interested in being a reporter after she graduates and understands the importance of covering tragic and dangerous stories.
If you want to be a reporter, you have a responsibility to share important information and warn the public of impeding disasters,” she said.
Freshman broadcast journalism major Caroline Lockwood said she is excited to be able to cover such events as Hurricane Katrina one day.
“I like to be a part of exhilarating and dangerous things,” she said. “I want to be a part of history.”
Chapline said he is in the news broadcast business partly because of a desire to serve the public. But he knows that this responsibility comes with a price.
“When you soak in big stories like this all day long,” he said, “it doesn’t just go away at the end of the day.