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How to Produce Effective TV News?

TV News-G

Alok Verma

1. The Lead Story—Capturing Viewer’s Interest
What makes a story interesting varies. It may be dramatic spot news. It could be an emotional look at what happened to someone. It can be unusual. It may interesting simply because it is important to a large number of people. The lead story is the measuring stick of the whole newscast. Here are some of their guidelines:
• The news show must start with strong copy, particularly when the broadcast begins without pictures.
• The lead news report must have the hardest and the most timely anchor lead-in.
• “If we lead with something which is not visually exciting, then we need to make our copy strong so the
viewers understand what they are about to see is a lead story.

(a) Superior pictures greatly enhance a story

Good video— especially in a live situation enhances the story. The example of a spot news story of a building on fire can best explain it.

“In the two anchor news format, both of them can say something before throwing it to the reporter, who also has to establish his presence on the story before the viewers see any pictures. That means it could be 25 to 30 seconds into the show and viewers have only seen talking heads.
They’ll throw up the pictures of the fire right out of the open before the anchors are seen.
Often they’ll use an umbrella introduction with video to explain to the viewer why the story is important.

(b) A good sidebar increases the impact and the information communicated
If the story leads both their early newscasts, they’ll often do three stories — two in one show and one in the other. Often the lead is divided into two packages. The one will tell the basic story and the second package shows the impact of it on people. By treating one lead report as two separate pieces, it makes the whole report more credible and interesting. One should try to be responsible. To show viewers this is important, why it is important and to present it to them in such a way that it grabs their attention.

(c ) Your best story may be one which has been generated by your own people
Their philosophy: the best defense is a good offense. If you don’t have a good lead in hand, work to develop one. Exclusives, good second day follow ups, adequate stories built into strong ones, all these are possibilities.

(d) Don’t automatically rule out an International story

If it’s a slow news day, one should look for an international story with a local tie-in to lead.

(e) Packaging the Lead

The major hard stories of the day can be packaged in two ways. For example in the 7:00 p.m. newscast, the lead is packaged under the title “Top Story.” It starts in a box with graphics. “A plane has crashed today, and that’s our Top Story…” .

In the 8.00 pm news, try to offer viewers depth in a “Cover Story.” When possible, the Cover Story is also the lead to the news show. But, if a big story breaks late in the day, that may become the lead and the Cover Story gets moved down. The Cover Story is the story in which there is the possibility for doing background and sidebars. The idea is to give the news depth, context, and human interest. 7.00 pm newscast can be designed to be the first look at the news. The 8.00 p.m. show can be more in-depth reporting.

The big stories often lead news shows. If viewers have heard there was a truck explosion in the city and also a bridge collapsed, you must deal with the story thoroughly at 7:00, even though by our definition 7.00 is the first look and 8 o’clock is the in-depth.

Voice-overs—Nothing to Take for Granted The shorter stories are an important part of any news show. To be successful, you must make sure that in the pressure of producing television news, the voiceovers don’t become automatic pages — pages that receive less concentrated attention. Voiceovers are an important, central part of any current local television news show. One must guard against any inclination to treat voice overs as casual.
“Voiceovers are the major portion of any newscast, and they add the pacing and tempo and help carry newscasts along. The impact of voiceovers should be maximized for a newscast.

Keys To Successful Voiceovers

1. Match words to the video. It’s very important that reporters should look at the video they are showing and make it match what you’re saying.

‘Think visual.’ Think about what you’re seeing, not what you’re writing. “Try to be conversational in your writing, as if you were telling a story look at these pictures. Make the pictures match what you say.”

2. Develop a system of shooting voiceovers that will help editors and writers when there is a time crunch. They should know to expect: wide, medium, and tight. Or whatever is appropriate. News story should possibly be shot in sequence. It makes a big difference in terms of putting the story and the voice over together.

3. See each block of voiceovers as one fluid unit — as the viewers see it. Do not regard them as separate pieces or isolated ones.

“At our station, we don’t like to do anything that doesn’t have depth and it’s more of a challenge to get depth in a voiceover than it is in a package,” says McKenzie.

“The producer really has to be on his or her toes in knowing where it fits. It’s a piece of a puzzle and has to fit into the show,” she says.

4. Producers must be flexible and vary the budgeted lengths of the voiceovers so that the best video gets on air Voiceovers are an important, central part of any television news show. You should guard against any inclination to treat them as automatic pages — pages which receive less concentrated attention.
Voiceovers are the major portion of any newscast, and they add the pacing and tempo and help carry you along. Often once the news story is broken, viewers are updated by means of a voiceover. So, it really does have a great importance.

Maximize the impact of your voiceovers and you will upgrade many pages in your show.

3. Enterprise Reporting: All reporters must work to upgrade every story they do. Consider these possible tactics:
1. The next time you go to a spot news story, turn your back on the main action, and tell the story you look at.
2. Look for the quietest person in the room, and talk to them.
3. Trust your instincts. “People should trust their personal reaction. Figure out why you reacted the way you did.

Were you excited, scared, uneasy or angry? Trace back in your mind what were the details you experienced, the scene that you saw, the smell that you smelled that led you to have that reaction, and make sure it’s a primary part of the story,” she says.

4. Search out new areas of specialty and develop contacts. Religion and spirituality, food and entertainment are areas where there are hard news stories, and in which people are showing more interest.

5. Cherish diversity within your newsroom. Tap the contacts and opinions of staff members of various backgrounds on important issues. “Let’s not pretend in newsrooms, which we often do, that there is consensus on everything. Sometimes there will be, and there needs to be on philosophic approaches to the news. But they should cherish the wide range of ideas they have,” she says.

6. Ensure reporters and camerapersons are working as teams.

7. Use camerapersons as field producers.

8. Look for who has NOT been on the air. Whose voices have not been heard on this issue?

9. Go to where the pack isn’t.

10. Nurture risk-taking initiatives. Everyone applauds it when it works. But must celebrate it when it fails too.

4. Promos are Critical to Successful Television News Today{ As news audiences erode, short explanations of what viewers can find in the upcoming news programs help hold the audience. Promotion is ultra-critical these days, as broadcasters see the declining ratings and audience share. The only way to get viewers to watch news shows is possible through promotion.

There should be emphasis on improving the relationship between News and Promotion. It is very much important that the promotion people must have a full and precise understanding of what News is doing. Having a promotion producer in the news meeting is the best way to know what is going on a daily basis, and to know what your news show is all about.

About the Author: Alok Verma is a senior Journalist, who has been a witness to India’s innumerable diplomatic initiatives, political crises, political changes, social upheavals, economic debates, nature’s vagaries, judicial wisdom, political bankruptcy, etc in the last 20 years of professional life.Later, he shifted to television journalism and since 1995; he has been working as a TV journalist.

He joined as Editor, News of India’s first private news broadcasting station Zee News in 1995. He is among a very few Television journalists, who got the experience of launching a 24-hour news channel. During his Editorship, Zee News became the first 24-hour News Channel in 1998. He has produced more than 2000 hours of programming in news and current affairs while working with heading Zee News as Editor News and Programming.During his stint with the STAR TV as Editor, News & Current Affairs to look after their new media initiatives in PC and TV portal and Interactive TV, he worked in the domain of Internet and Interactive TV. He is also a Visiting Faculty at India’s prestigious institutions and universities.

Currently, he is Managing Editor and Director of Media4Community Foundation–an Organization engaged in strengthening Communication capacities of the Community for Socio-Economic Empowerment through the use of media and Information Technology.

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