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

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Holidays are typically both short on staff and news. You can go to the Memorial Day event and do the same old story or go to the same event and find one person who will make it truly meaningful. Chat people up at the event. Follow them home. Get old pictures. See how their story now compares to their story then.

Russian poet Yevengy Yevtushenko said "Every man has a story to tell." This is my motto. There are thousands of ordinary people who have made extraordinary sacrifices. Find one. Tell their story today on a day when you have the time and space to do so.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tease Writing 101

Tease writing can be tricky. The key is story selection. If you have stacked the show correctly, you should have one or two good things to tease in each block. Remember that you don't have to tease stories with news value. Put those stories in your show, to be sure, but they may not be teaseable. Consumer and health stories tend to be teasable. Think-- how many people does this story impact? The greater number of people impacted, the better the chance it may be teasable. Also ask, is this story weird or unique? Is this the sort of thing that people will be talking about? Also... anything with good video is always a bonus.

Along with story selection is story placement. Producers tend to put the stuff they are going to throw away towards the end of the show. I used to like to have "killables," stories I knew I could kill in a jam. But also keep a list of teasables, the solid stories you sprinkle throughout the show. They don't have to be pkgs. They don't have to be local. I used to read a lot of magazines looking for something evergreen I could stuff in a folder and pull out when I didn't have anything else. Attribute and check out the magazine's source material. Make a couple calls to flesh it out.

I think we get stuck with bad teases because we may not have a whole lot of juicy stories that day. So you tease something that is not worth it. Having a couple teasables in your back pocket can help.

If you are teasing a reporter story, talk with them about it. It can be a quick phone call or email that goes:
"Hey what have you got? Any good sound? Any good video?"
I like to put sots in teases. Reporters are logging it anyway and may have a 5 second soundbite they can give you.

Like with any writing, you ought to look at the video that will be used in your teases. That might help guide your decision making. Sometimes a story that sounded good-- when you check out the video-- is really not so much. Looking at the video also helps you write it.

Let the content drive the tease. Got great nats? Throw some in. Good sound? Put that in there too. Sometimes you can put together a :30 second tease that's almost like a little mini pkg. You can wipe into it or out of it, using it solo or with an animation.

Try to tease different stuff. Nothing is so boring as seeing the same thing over and over and over. It's also hard to write the same tease four times and still make it fresh. I remember hearing at a seminar-- tease deep, tease next. It's a pretty good, easy idea. Tease something deep in the show... and tease something that's in the next block. That way you string viewers along (in a good way).

I also like getting faces in the teases. If a reporter is fronting the story, maybe you tease their story with video in the headlines, but use a live or taped standup tease from them at the end of the first block. Vary it up if you are teasing the same story twice.

Write what you'd like to see on your teases so the editor knows what you want included. Put a timecode and info on how to find the video. Watch your show to make sure the tease video was not just the first three shots of the pkg.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Good Swine Flu Idea

Saw a station with a good segment on swine flu, excuse me, H1N1. They asked for questions from viewers about swine flu and then went to a doctor for sound. The segment was just three or four of these questions and then the doc's fifteen or twenty second soundbite answer to each. The segment was quick- the questions were interesting- thought I might pass it along.

Important Swine Flu Website