When we got the tip that reality show star Kate Gosselin, of TLC's "Jon & Kate Plus 8" fame, was in town at a local diner, there was no question that we were going. Frankly, it was a big deal simply because celebrities don't usually hang out at greasy spoons in Raleigh.
When we arrived at Finch's restaurant on Peace Street, a landmark establishment that's been in business since 1945, we saw Gosselin taking orders and serving food. Her every move was being documented by a television crew. Needless to say, we were not invited in for pancakes and grits. Gosselin's bodyguard, Steve Neild, politely, but firmly, escorted me into the parking lot where he told me they were shooting a "test" segment. He refused to offer any more details and declined to allow us into the restaurant to shoot video.
So, we did what we usually do. We took the camera onto public property – the sidewalk – and shot what we could see from there until the restaurant employees closed the blinds in the building obstructing our view. When my photographer and online editor decided to go into to the restaurant without the camera for a cup of coffee, and admittedly a little reconnaissance, the production staff closed up shop and rushed Gosselin outside into a waiting SUV.
The whole scene lasted less than 10 minutes, and was actually pretty amusing to us. We weren't fans, we were just a local news crew trying to cover an assignment. Nothing fires us up more than people coming into our town on our turf and telling us we can't do something. As a result, we had some fun with it – not just in how we shot it, but how we reported it on the air at noon.
Needless to say, some staff members in our newsroom, as well as some viewers and online visitors, didn't think this was a news story worthy of our time. This actually falls into the category of water cooler stories – things people talk about. News can be many things – important, informative, educational and, yes, sometimes, it is just something people are talking about.
And the numbers don't lie. The story was the top story by far on WRAL.com today with more than 50,000 page views and growing. It made up 10 percent of the traffic on our site. Clearly, someone was interested.