Monday, January 11, 2010

Teases are not just a producer's responsibility

Never before has the importance of teasing a story become more apparent. The NBC-Jay Leno situation proves it.

I know. You're thinking, "But Grape, that's just the lead-in to the newscast. What does that have to do with me as a reporter?" Ah, Grasshopper, you have much to learn about the care and feeding of the average viewer.

Years ago, before remote control, children were assigned the duty of "channel changer." Generally the kid would sit on the floor close to the TV while parents directed said child to "see what's on." If said child had gone to bed, parents who were too lazy to get up and change the channel generally stuck with the newscast that followed what they were watching.

But now we have hundreds of channels at the tips of our couch potato fingers, so you might think the "lead in" is not as important as it used to be.

You'd be partially right, since it's no big deal to switch to the newscast you want. But the thing about lead-ins is that they offer the best opportunity to tease stories.

And that's where you, as a reporter, come in.

Back when I was a rookie I didn't think about teases. When the anchor (we had no producers) asked for tease video, I generally cut the first piece of b-roll that was cued up.

Now put yourself in the producer's shoes. You haven't been out with the crew and you have no idea where the money shot might be or what piece of video might be used to really sell the story. So you might be inclined to do what I did... cut the first piece of b-roll that's cued up.

It takes very little effort to become part of the tease production. When shooting a story and when looking at your video before writing the script (I sure hope you're doing that) keep an eye out for something that might make a viewer stick around after the lead-in. Then tell the producer about it, or cue it up when you hand that person the tape.

You may think, "What's in it for me?" Well, higher ratings mean you keep your job, and your company might have money to give you a raise. (Ah, now I've gotten your attention.)

See, all this stuff with Jay Leno isn't solely about a great lead-in... a lot of it has to do with promotion.

And a successful promo only works with help from the reporter.

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