Welcome to the PIT List!

I'm a network field producer who also worked in local tv as a line producer and field producer. Over the years, I have had the great fortune to work with super people. Now I'd like to pass along what I know and rant a tad.

"Dear Maggie..." pitlist@gmail.com
I check it sporadically, but I love answering emails, so if you have an issue or difficult person you need help with, don't hesitate to shoot it my way.

Maggie L

Maggie L
One of the rare times I'm in the office

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Time is Not on Your Side, Part 2

Sometimes you have too much news. Other times, you have 30 minutes of show and two minutes of content.

An email from a producer in a smaller market reminded me not everyone is blessed with writers. With that in mind, here is some advice that might help.

Set priorities.
You can't do everything with the same amount of effort or everything won't get done. Pick a few things you want to knock out of the park (like open, teases, a special graphic) and then crank the rest of it out.

Bottoms up
When I would write a show myself, I would try to knock out the teasable, unchangable things first. Like if there's some consumer or health story on the feed, do a little pkg on it. You are looking at your video anyway, so instead of writing 3 unrelated vos, write one minipkg. The feed pkgs are usually easy to break down and you can shoot that stuff back to editing so they will have something to start working on.

Write the bottom half of your show first so you can forget about it and then focus on the stories in your first couple of blocks.

Double duty reporters

Many times reporters have a second aspect or angle to a story. Have them do a minute hit on it.

If they can't be live in your show, ask for a one minute looklive. Nothing fancy, just them standing in front of the camera jabbering. Then edit can cover with the video they feed back. You may even pop an animation on the top and bottom (if you have them) and just roll right into it out of another story or a break.

Here's another two-fer. Is there a live shot where a reporter is doing something where maybe you could get a guest for a minute of q and a? For example, I am out here in Houston doing immigration live shots, but the county sheriff's pio is in the same building so it wouldn't be too hard to pull him out here, flip the camera around to make it look a little different and ask him about some other pressing issue.

When all else fails, go national

Take national liveshots- but you don't have to take the pkg, which can be boring. Instead, write your own vo into it and have your anchors ask a question or two. Be careful! Keep all q and a quick or it will be dull, dull, dull. Cut some more vo (if you can) and take it full or in a double box during the q and a.

So here's how that might break down into a 2nd block segment. Roll out of the break into your intro vo. Pop up one anchor for the last graph of the intro. Turn to a two shot with a live monitor between them or switch to a double box with the national talent. Ask your questions (quickly) and move on.

Double duty talent

Another way to eat time is have the wx guy front whatever daily weather video there is. Make it a separate story going into wx. Wx guys ad lib anyway so you may not have to write anything.

Or maybe there is something fitness related the sports guy can front. Maybe somebody else in the newsroom wants a little more facetime. The toss to another person makes the story look larger and eats up a little more time, even if you are the one writing it. And more faces in the show is always more interesting.

One final note

For those of you toiling in small markets and on overnights, keep the faith! You won't be there long! Some bigger market, better show will snap you up quickly! As a producer, your future is golden.

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