Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sweeps pieces: the last gasp of quality reporting?

One of the most common complaints I hear from people is that they simply aren't given enough time to do a story justice. I don't mean run time, but time to put a story together. Obsession with live shots has "shortened" the day for reporters, and if you have to interrupt your day to do something for a noon show, you're really pushing the envelope to do a decent job.

Getting a sweeps assignment might be your last chance to do an old fashioned job of reporting. You get your story in advance, get a little extra time to set it up, and more time to shoot and edit it. Since NDs consider sweeps pieces sacred, they'll usually give you carte blanche to do your best job.

Funny, it used to be that way every day of the year.

Years ago you'd run into a story that demanded extra time and you'd usually get it. We didn't have wall to wall live shots. (I did about two a month.) We weren't required to stop what we were doing for the noon show, if we even had one. But bottom line, News Directors trusted reporters, and if a reporter said he needed more time, the ND knew there was a reason.

Might be interesting if we treated every day like a sweeps day.

What consultants have failed to realize over the years is that viewers simply don't care if someone is live unless something is actually happening live. And let's face it, 90 percent of your live shots are after the fact with absolutely nothing happening live.

Imagine if you could use that time to make your story better.

Well, things probably aren't going to change so take this opportunity to turn out some special packages. If you've got the extra time, don't waste it. Your resume tape will thank you.


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