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, November 28, 2007

Winging it

Breaking news happens. Be flexible but try to be clean. Let's start with breaking press conferences because I just saw one that was fairly brutal.

It's ok to toss to a press conference with the live picture up and your anchor's mic under. Don't feel like you have to automatically toss to the reporter covering the presser to wrap around. Chances are they are trying to digest the info from the presser. Also, nothing is more annoying for others in the presser than having to listen to some dingbat at the back of the room doing a live shot. Anchors are there for a reason. Let them handle it.

Make sure you are recording the presser so you can use it later. If your station still has tape, record in two decks. That way you can pop one after a minute to quick turn a sot if you need it.

If you know a presser is coming up that you are going to take live, think of visual elements that might help. For example, if it is related to spot news, pull file from the incident. If it is a missing person, have the victim's pic, search, whatever, called up. You can take it full or put it in a double box with the presser on the other side. Cable news channels do this all the time.

How long do you stay with the presser? Ask yourself- How big of a story is this in my community? If I dump out of this will people flip to other stations to watch the rest? Are people in the booth bored or still interested? A lot of times technical people do not live eat and breath news like you do so they are a better guage of your audience. Take a quick poll- are we done with this? Better to take too much than too little in my opinion. Warn your director and anchors that you want to dump out. Have them pod up your anchor's mic and let your anchor find a natural spot to take you out. Keep the presser pic up and then eventually pop your anchor up. Cutting straight from the presser to your anchor on set feels jarring. Have them quickly recap what was said and tease more coverage!

Unexpected pressers eat up time. Have a plan, before going into any show, what you will kill if you have something breaking. Have a worst case scenerio. What is the absolute most I can kill to accomodate breaking news? I guarantee you, breaking news is much more interesting than what you had planned so be prepared to jettison almost everything.

It feels weird after big spot news to just transition and go on with other news like nothing happenend. Plan to recap at end of show. Tease that you'll have more at the end of the show. Bump out of other segments with a live pic or vo to remind folks you'll be coming back to it.

Spot news is the reason you are a producer. Any monkey can produce a show when things go according to the rundown. It's the rockstars who can take the precious show they've been working on the past 8 hours and blow it up for something that really sings.

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