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

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stories- What happened vs. What does it mean

When you do stories, think about the bottom line for your viewer. Translate the story in to that bottom line. For example, you can report that city council voted x, y, and z but you need to explain- "That means there will be less money for firefighters, or, that means library hours will be cut." Break a story down to its personal impact for the viewer. If it doesn't have a personal impact for the viewer, you may want to ask why it is in your show.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Best Stuff First

Whether it's a show or a package, always put your best stuff first. For example, I was watching TV in a medium market a few weeks ago and they were doing a big ongoing crime story. This station led when a nuts and bolts package, and then went to the exclusive interview with the sister or brother or someone of a person who had died. I about fell on the floor. I had no idea it was coming, nary a word about it in headlines or the lead.

Exclusive-- or anything new and interesting--- goes first. You can do some kind of quick taped set-up... but it should all highlight the fact that you will soon be hearing great stuff for the first time. Or skip the set-up and just get to it:

"For the first time since her sister's death, Suzy Q is talking about what happened. Here's Joe Schmoe with more."
Take Exclusive Pkg


"Police are still trying to track down the killer. Bob Bartsow has more on the investigation."
Take Nuts and Bolts Pkg.

Best stuff first!! People have short attention spans and a remote in their hand and they're ready to zap you!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Do as I Say & Not As I Do

Remember how I constantly harp on rereading copy to proof for mistakes? I'm not so good at taking my own advice. I've been writing for a new "live" blog for work, as in, I write it and it goes live to the web without benefit of a second set of eyes. I am fanstastic as catching mistakes in other people's copy. I am not so hot at catching them in my own. I'm trying to force myself to read everything aloud and SLOWLY. I'm finding with the web, the deadline is now-- not your next hit time or show.

It's really frustrating to see your own stupid mistakes.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Newspapers Better at Lives

I saw something that surprised me. I was trying to watch a press conference in another city and checked for it to be live streamed on various T.V. websites and found nothing. Then I checked the city's newspaper website and there it was. I will grant you, the presser was in the middle of the day and none of the affils had a show on, but isn't this something we should be thinking about? More and more people are getting their news by web... and if you're already there... why not try to work with the web folks to get it up live. You can go live on lots of phones and there's always Skype on a laptop if you have one.

Don't Lead with Soundbite

I can't tell you how many packages I see where the first couple seconds are someone's uninspiring soundbite. People do it because it's easy.

In general, it's not a good idea to lead a package with a soundbite. This is because there's generally something better-- say your best nats and video. Soundbites generally come out of nowhere and viewers tend to miss the first couple seconds of them if you use them at the top. Also, if you instead start with a little nats and track, you can set the tone for the piece and the viewer.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What's the plan Stan?

Something that a lot of bigger markets and networks do might work for you-- running through the plan with a reporter a minute or so before their liveshot. So after they are checked in tech-wise, you say "OK Suzie, we have got you in for a vosot, vo of people running, sot with john smith, runs :12, outcue have a great race. Wipe in to vo of the awards ceremony."

It is a quick easy thing to do that might catch a mistake and allows your reporter to touch base and vice-versa.


The photog I work with mentioned this and I thought it was worth passing along. He says some stations are using Slingbox- but in reverse- as a way to do liveshots beyond your truck range. Or to supplement your trucks. I couldn't begin to explain how but it might be worth chatting up an engineer to see if it could work for you.