While playing a few records to test the thing, I started reading the album covers and the dust jackets... and realized most of the young generation has never experienced these little bells and whistles that made old fashioned records more enjoyable than today's music downloads.
Years ago you'd walk into a record store and, get this, you could actually take a record into a booth and listen to it before you decided whether or not to buy it. Then when you played it for the first time, you'd put the record on the record player. You'd read the album cover, a friend would read the dust jacket, and it made for a nice experience.
The term "flip side" comes from the record industry. What was on the other side of that hit record? If you bought one, you took home the other. Sometimes you'd get a clunker, sometimes not.
Then there were records, like the "Best of Bread" which had theme sides. There was the mellow side and the rowdy side. I remember a party in college where a gal held up this record and asked the group just that. "Mellow side or rowdy side?"
In this era of instant gratification, we've lost the wrapper that comes with music. It's like getting a Christmas gift handed to you, with no package, no wrapping paper, no bow, no cute tag.
Television news has gotten the same way. The bells and whistles are pretty much history, victims of a time crunch, lack of creativity, or both.
Back in the day you'd be working on a package and a photog might say, "You know what would make this better?" And then he'd talk about a certain clip of music, or a sound effect, or a clever graphic. You'd actually get excited adding these unique elements to a story.
I've posted the story of our hula hoop package on this blog before. It was a package that took twenty minutes to shoot and it won the AP award for best feature in the state. But what took it to another level were all the elements we added to it. The vintage black and white video of hula hoops from the 60's, a clip from the American Graffiti soundtrack, some clever editing and great nat sound breaks.
Ninety percent of the time, that package today would look like this: voice track, sound bite, voice track, standup, sound bite, voice track. No bells or whistles.
When you do that, you're just handing the viewer an unwrapped gift.
It's those little things that take your packages to the next level, those little things that tell a News Director looking at your resume tape, "This reporter really got creative and took the extra time to make the package special."
A television story is called a "package" for a reason. Wrap yours up like an old fashioned record album, give the viewer lots of elements and things to think about, and watch the quality of your work zoom to another level.