With that in mind, I've put together a little checklist that reporters should have whenever you're heading out to do a package. Veterans have this system on auto-pilot, but if you're new, it always helps to double-check the things you need before heading back to the station. Some of this stuff is obvious, some not.
BEFORE YOU HEAD OUT TO YOUR STORY:
-Do you have a clear picture of what your story will be about? If not, talk with management before you leave.
-Do you understand the story you have been assigned? If not, do research before setting it up.
-Have you discussed the story with the photog and gotten his ideas on how to approach it before you start making calls?
-Do you have good directions and contact numbers? Don't trust the GPS or Internet mapping services.
-Do you have a pre-conceived notion about the story? If so, check it at the door.
-Got your makeup and IFB? You might have to do a live shot and not get a chance to come back to the station. In fact, always assume you might not come back and take everything you might possibly need.
WHILE SHOOTING YOUR STORY:
-Have you gotten both sides of the story?
-Have you looked for a third side, or point of view, that will make your story different from those done by your competitors?
-If you can only get one side of the story, can viewers see you trying to get the other side, or are you just going to tell them you couldn't get in touch with someone?
-Have you done a standup that both shows and tells? Or shown some reporter involvement?
-Got a money shot? Got a great opening shot?
-Did you use a tripod (and lights, if necessary?)
-Does your story show and tell, or just tell?
-Does your story have natural sound that adds to the story?
-Are you being objective in your questions?
-Do you have enough b-roll to cover your story? (If you're a one man band, do you have a variety of wide, medium and tight shots?)
-Did you thank the people who took time to give you an interview?
WHILE WRITING AND EDITING THE STORY
-Did you watch all of your video before writing your script?
-Did you write the anchor Intro before writing your package?
-Are you writing to the video you've got? Are you writing into and out of any sound bites or pieces of nat sound?
-Do you have several pieces of nat sound in your story?
-Did you watch your story completely after you're done to make sure there are no bad edits, flash frames or jump cuts?
AFTER YOU'RE DONE
-Have you thanked your photog? (If you're a one man band, look in the mirror at the end of the day and say, "Helluva job, kid.")
-Have you left gas in the news car? Nothing is more frustrating for the next person to jump in a car for breaking news only to lose precious time having to stop at a gas station.
-Have you left garbage in the news car? If you want to get on a photog's bad side, leave some fast food bags in the car to fester overnight.
-Have you watched the competition to compare stories, and have you noticed anything you might have done differently?
-Have you asked for feedback from the ND or a veteran on staff?
-Finally, if your story turned out really good, did you make a copy and take it home?
Any more suggestions, fire away. I'm sure I've missed a few.