By Bram Weinstein/@RealBramW
What are you bringing to the broadcast that the viewer doesn’t already know? The live shot offers an advantage on two levels,
ONE you are there and we are not.
The attention is immediate based on the viewpoint offered. There is nothing like seeing the person live from Miami as opposed to talking about what might be happening in Miami.
The execution of the successful live shot with a reporter is reliant on two things:
1) The anchor must be prepared to ask questions that the reporter is capable of intelligently answering.
2) The reporter must have something to say that should come off as newsworthy or a surprise.
There is a third caveat. Because this event is live and because the report is being done in an uncontrolled environment, both the reporter and anchor need to be flexible enough to react to anything that might happen.
The reporter will often send notes or actual questions they want to be asked. This is standard protocol for a television report. The object is to get the best information from the reporter. The anchor in turn must ask this question in a fashion that at least appears conversational. Sometimes, if it is a breaking news event, the easiest fashion is to vaguely ask for what is happening right now. This may seem like it is to simplistic, but in actuality it is far from it. The reporter’s words are far more important at the time then any set up the anchor might construct. This is where flow is important and the anchor must understand when it is time to vamp and paint a picture and when it is time to just get out of the way and allow the broadcast to flow more naturally.
KNOW YOUR STORY
There are also live shots that are in anticipation of a big event. A reporter may be awaiting the tip of a playoff basketball game. The reporter may be awaiting a live press conference of a team about to make a major announcement regarding the firing of a coach. In this scenario, the anchoring setting up the story in greater detail may help the reporter fill in the blanks. This all takes experience of knowing when it is time to speak and when it is time to allow the reporter to paint the picture in greater detail. The reporter will likely have spoken to someone that you did not. Whether it be a source, eyewitness or locals who have a different and more acute feeling about the story that is about to be presented, the purpose is for the information to make air quickly and effectively.
TIPS FOR ANCHORS
Listen to the reporter carefully. Like I stated earlier, in many cases, you know the direction or content of the conversation before you go on air. That does not mean you can go into an anchor auto-drive and allow the reporter to speak then immediately follow up with the anticipated and scripted question. What if the reporter said something that would pique your interest and likely the viewer as well. If you were not paying close attention to what was being said, you won’t be prepared to ask the right follow up or the right question to get the reporter to expand on their thought. The reporter has been preparing (in most cases) what they are going to say. This means that a few details may be left out because the reporter has too much information and is trying to deliver it in a concise manner. It’s not a mistake to leave out some detail but if the anchor feels the topic is worth further exploration, you are doing the reporter a service by getting them to explain why they have said what they just said.
As for the reporter, they must be prepared to talk about aspects of the story that are not what was immediately deemed as the most pressing. Like anything else, these live shots have an expected time limit. Those are rarely a set in stone time, unless you are up against the show ending. So, if the anchor and producers feel like something else must be addressed, the reporter must feel prepared to give an answer even if it is less scripted or rehearsed. Often, this is fleshed out initially, but say the live shot is something that came about later in the preparatory period of the pre-show. Everyone involved may not be completely comfortable that the best information was gleaned by the questions and answers supplied. The freedom to dig deeper needs to be understood by everyone involved in this coordinated effort.
As for what is happening around the reporter at the time of the live shot. Do you see something happening behind the reporter that they are not aware of, whether it be humorous or potentially newsworthy. What if the reporter is discussing the availability of an injured player and you notice that player on the field behind them working with trainers. If the reporter does not address what that player is doing, pointing their attention to it may allow them to express surprise that this player was on the field because their information suggested he wouldn’t be or it may allow them to explain what exactly they are doing now that was anticipated but wasn’t expected at that moment.
At a live news event where people may congregate, the freedom to allow the reporter to talk to someone who may have a vested interest live can be premium broadcasting. The reporter may not have expected to have proximity to this subject. They need to be able to break script and take a chance that the information about to be received will help the broadcast in depth of understanding. In turn, the anchor needs to be the eyes and ears of the reporter. Are a group of people chanting something that may be more audible to the reporter on the scene. Are players taking part in a ritual that we don’t usually see? Are some unexpected guests attending the event? Does this allow the reporter to add to his report, paint a better scene and in turn enhance the object which is to take the viewer there as if they are at this event with you?
Later this week, I’ll discuss when not to do a live shot and why it matters.
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