Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Time for some tornado sidebars

Okay, so we've had a month of tornado stories. Incredible video.

And all the stories are pretty much... the same.

The thing about covering disasters is that it's actually very easy. Everything is laid out for you. You can point a camera in any direction and get compelling video. You can find a victim every ten feet. Raw emotion is everywhere.

That's all fine for day one. But when the story stretches into day six, seven, and eight, you're gonna lose your audience if you do the same thing over and over.

And those are the stories I'm seeing from so many local reporters. The same devastation every day, insert new teary-eyed victim here.

The story has moved, and you need to move with it. Back up and look at the big picture.

-A ton of people are why not drive to the closest livable town and talk to a realtor?

-Not everyone who lost a home is financially devastated. Here's a newsflash...most people have homeowners insurance. But I have yet to see a single story following an insurance adjuster. How long does it take someone to get an insurance check so they can get their lives back?

-Show what the government is doing... or not doing. And by the way, how much do those FEMA trailers cost the taxpayer? You might be surprised to learn they cost a lot more than if you bought one off the lot. Government bureaucracy is always good for a story.

-Where does all the rubble go? They gotta put it somewhere.

-For those employed by businesses that were destroyed, what now? Do they have to move to take another job?

-Cleanup paid for by the government can provide a lot of jobs for people who have been out of work.

-What are the police doing to keep looters away?

Get the picture?

These are terribly sad stories, but you don't have to tell them all the same way. Look for the sidebar, and keep the story moving forward.


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