Friday, June 22, 2012

Grapevine Honor Roll

First, thanks to so many of you for sending in your packages. There are some people doing good work out there. Keep 'em coming, as I plan to share things on a regular basis.

We're going to call this sharing-with-the-rest-of-the-class thing the "grapevine honor roll"... good packages that show off various talents, editing and writing styles, unique deliveries, etc.

Our first inductee is Ned Hibberd from the Fox affiliate in Houston. The story is seven and a half minutes long. (Kudos to the News Director who isn't stuck in that insane minute-fifteen consultant driven high-story-count formula and gives reporters enough time to tell a story and let it breathe.) Despite the length the story really moves. I want you to note the set-up at the beginning, particularly the editing and use of nat sound. Also note Ned's delivery... a lot of energy in his voice, which many of you could use more of. While it might be too over-the-top for smaller markets, it's a big market and it's Fox, so it fits.

Very good writing here.... note how Ned writes to his video and sound bites. My compliments to the editor (has to be someone my age to use a song from the seventies).

If I had one tiny criticism it's that Ned was wearing jeans... but then again, it's Texas. My Northeast upbringing wouldn't permit such a sartorial faux pas. (And my dad would have chewed me out for it.)

Anyway, take seven minutes out of your day and check it out:


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Share with the rest of the class

I often get this question from clients: "Who should I be watching?"

They're not asking for my preference on network news, but on specific reporters or anchors who use their talents in a special way. There are lots of news people scattered across the country from whom you can learn.

You'll notice the previous post has a link to what I considered to be a very good story. That said, it would be nice if I could post links to good stories more often.

So, if you've done a really good story, send me a link at and I'll share the best ones with the rest of the class.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cool story

Thought I'd share this package from one of my clients. The opening of the package truly illustrates the importance of nat sound.|main5|dl23|sec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D171110


Monday, June 18, 2012

Telling viewers what you "think they should know" is like trying to give a pill to a cat

As any cat lover knows, the worst day of the year is taking kitty to the vet for her annual shots. It's a process that often involves two people, oven mitts and safety goggles and is followed by band-aids and peroxide.

On one occasion the vet gave us some pills to give to the cat. You can go online to learn how to do it and read something like, "gently open the cat's mouth and place the pill at the back of the throat, then close the mouth and massage the throat." I tried that but when I thought our cat had swallowed the pill I let go and she spit it at me like she had it in a blowgun. Then I tried "hiding it" in her cat food. She dutifully ate around it. When we finally did get her to take the pill, she basically walked around ticked off for two days.

Viewers are a lot like cats. They don't like to be force fed anything, even though it may be good for them. Check that, even though you may think it's good for them.

Hollywood hasn't figured this out, as every year they release some movie with a "message" that bombs at the box office because people don't want to pay ten bucks for a lecture.

Which brings us back to the news business. Several years ago I worked with an anchor who was obsessed with foreign affairs. And I mean really obscure foreign affairs. And while foreign affairs are important, you can ask Joe Sixpack today what he thinks about Greece and chances are he'll say Olivia Newton-John looked hot in spandex.

Anyway, this anchor wanted to lead with a story about a country I'd never heard of. A newsroom discussion ensued, upon which the anchor said, "The people need to know this." Then I asked if anyone in the newsroom could find said country on a map. No one could.

Bottom line, what you may think is very important may not be of any interest to the viewers. And, if it's a story with an obvious agenda, it might tick them off and make them mad for a couple of days like my cat.

Whether you're pitching stories at the morning meeting or producing a newscast, always put yourself in the viewers' shoes. What are people most interested in right now? Is the story something they want to know as opposed to something you think they need to know? Remember, most of you reading this are in your twenties and thirties and most viewers of local news skew older. You may be a smart, college educated person but many of your viewers are not.

Keep it simple. Don't try to force feed the viewers what they don't want.