Thursday, February 24, 2011

Stating the obvious

If I have to see this package on gas prices one more time, I'm going to scream:

Voiceover: Gas prices hit the highest levels in a few years, with prices topping three dollars a gallon nationwide, and that has consumers worried.

Motorist: I have to get to work, so I have no choice but to pay the higher prices. What can I do?

Voiceover: According to the group "Americans too dumb to realize they're getting shafted by the oil companies," prices could hit four dollars a gallon by the summer.

Standup at gas pump: So will people drive less or switch to smaller cars?

Motorist: I'm thinking about dumping the SUV and buying a hybrid. Then again, maybe I'll just skateboard down to the supermarket.

Voiceover: Prices seem to creep up every day, with no end in sight. Joe Reporter, Eye-Missed-It News.

This is a prime example of a "stating the obvious" package. There is absolutely no news value here. We all know gas prices are high, we all know people have to get to work in some manner. We all know there are ways of cutting back, carpooling, switching to a hybrid. We've done this story and seen this story dozens of times.

So why do the story if you're not going to tell the viewer something new?

If you're assigned a story like this, you must look past the obvious. Ever think about the people who make a profit when gas prices rise? Ever consider the fact that heavy products which cost more fuel to ship (detergent, car batteries) have gone up in price a lot more than light products that cost less to ship (potato chips)? Ever wonder what that ten percent ethanol in your gas is doing to fuel economy, not to mention corn prices?

Every cause has an effect, but too often we choose the obvious effects for our stories. You have to stretch your imagination and really look for the hidden angles that no one else has considered.

Otherwise you're just wasting the viewer's time.


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