Recently I saw one that really stuck out. It was a piece on an animal shelter that was having financial problems and needed money. We saw the building. There was a shot of an empty cage. Stacks of pet food. Several sound bites with people who worked at the shelter, talking about the need for cash to keep the homeless pets alive.
Should have been a touching story. Should have made me open my checkbook and send the shelter a few bucks.
But a key element was missing.
Did I ever see a shot of a cat? Nope. A puppy looking at the camera with sad eyes? Fuhgeddaboudit.
Incredible, a package about animals that didn't show a single animal. I guess the viewers were supposed to close their eyes and imagine Fluffy and Fido waiting for new homes.
In this case, a well done package should have tugged at the hearts of viewers. The reporter could have injected emotion with both words and b-roll. Maybe had a follow-up when bushels of cash rolled in.
Instead it was another story that missed the obvious.
I actually see a lot of these. The main focus of the story is nowhere to be found. Oh, it's talked about with sound bites and voiceovers, but never seen, like a monster in a M. Night Shyamalan movie. Stories about overcrowded classrooms show no kids. Stories about booming businesses show no customers. The viewers may as well be listening to the radio and creating a theater of the mind.
When you head out to a story, take a moment to think about the main topic. Then please, shoot some b-roll that actually shows what you're talking about. I shouldn't have to close my eyes and imagine it.
TVNEWSGRAPEVINE, copyright 2011 © Randy Tatano