Friday, June 3, 2011

Some hats belong waaaaay in the back of the closet

You know how I'm always telling you guys to wear a bunch of hats and be as versatile as possible? Well, sometimes what a prospective employer doesn't know about your hat rack can help you.

Let's say you're a reporter in your first job and you've been asked to do everything. You're a one-man-band and you dream of a job with a photog. (You guys never thought the day would come when reporters would dream about you, huh?) You've also filled in as a producer, and that's something you really dislike.

So, you put all these duties down on your resume and a prospective employer looks at it and sees all your hats. "Hmmmm... we've got two openings for a reporter, and one's for a one-man-band. Looks like this person can shoot. Oooooh, and she can fill in as a producer, too!"

And just like that, you've got the same job you had before. Wearing two of the hats you'd love to donate to Goodwill. (And trust me, if they know you can produce, they'll stick you with that more than you can imagine.)

If you've filled in as a producer and hate it, don't put it on your resume. If you absolutely will not take a job as a one-man-band, don't put the fact that you can shoot on your resume. You're a reporter, or anchor, or both... and that's it. You've run the prompter, but that's not on your resume. This is no different.

Sometimes the less they know about you, the better. If there's something about the job you really hate, best to not let them know that you know how to do it.


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.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Architectural studies

I once had a News Director who had a term for a certain type of video. You see it in packages all the time. It's the lame b-roll of buildings, streets, and skylines used in lieu of anything actually happening.

He called it "architectural study" video.

Example: You're talking about a town in your market that is booming. Lots of new shops, all kinds of industries opening up, etc. But instead of actually walking in the doors of these new establishments and showing people working, you give me wide shots of streets, company signs, and other static shots that turn into video wallpaper.

And if a News Director sees this on your resume tape, he has a better term than "architectural study" video.

That term would be "lazy."

It all goes back to show-and-tell. While shooting a story most good reporters sort of "lay the story out in their heads" while at the location. By that I mean you basically know what you're going to need for your package as far as b-roll is concerned. (And if you are working with a photog, you should be talking about this while doing your story.)

Let's go back to our example of the booming town. You arrive and see a new coffee shop that has just opened and a manufacturing plant that makes blenders. You could set your camera up in the street and get wide, medium and tight shots of the coffee shop. Or, what a concept, you could actually go inside and get video of the barista making coffee, the nat sound of a cappuccino machine. You could shoot several exteriors of the blender factory. Or you could actually walk inside and see blenders rolling by on an assembly line, and get the nat sound of an employee plugging in each blender and testing it.

It's fine to get an establishing shot of a location. But after you establish where you are, the viewer needs to see what you're talking about. If you tell something without showing it, you're not doing television, but radio.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

For those of you covering Memorial Day, please learn the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. (If you don't know, look it up.)

It is a day to honor all who have served, nonetheless. With that in mind, we thank those who fought for and continue to preserve our rights to do what we do.