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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

Monday, December 3, 2007

When in Doubt, Lead with Weather

A bunch of storms have hit the US. I hope you are all leading with them. You can't go wrong with a weather lead. It doesn't matter if there is some vastly more important story, people care about weather, people talk about weather and people will change the channel in a hot minute if they don't see weather on your show.

I learned this lesson the hard way. I had just moved from Cincinnati to Phoenix when I was producing the 10 show. Keep in mind, back in Cincinnati, we'd lead with snow if we saw a single flake within a 100 mile radius. But it was raining in Phoenix. No torrential downpour, no flooding, just rain. My Executive Producer at the time said "Lead with weather." I was baffled. I said, "Lead with rain? The fact that it's raining?" She said, "I know, it seems weird but it's kind of a big deal here." After living there for a year, I got it. In a place that gets about seven or eight inches of rain a year and has an average 321 days of sunshine, rain is a big, big deal.

So-- lead with weather-- every chance you get. Work the best video into your open. Unless there's something imminent going on, like a tornado, I like to toss to a reporter who's actually out in the weather, as opposed to the weather guy who is dry in the studio. But if you do toss to the weather guy, make sure he has some good vo to lead with before he gets into maps.

Also, consider pulling other reporters into your weather coverage. (In general, and not just for weather, the more faces you can work into the show, the better.) Reporter Joe Blow may be on the shooting or council meeting, but if he's getting rained on, toss to him for a quick hit on what it's like in his area. Have him pan the camera to show us the street or something nearby (blowing flags, trees etc.) It's much better to show live weather than taped, so think walk and talks for your reporters but have broll on standby in case the weather stops in their area right before the live shot.

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