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

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dustup over Kanye Comments

Anybody catch how the word got out about the President calling Kanye West a jacka$% ? Apparently, CNBC was doing an interview with the President which ABC was able to watch live. The comments were made prior to the official interview starting...

AP has an interesting write-up...


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Guilt and Innocence: Be Careful

We just came back from doing a story on the payments given to men who have been wrongly convicted in the state of Texas. It afforded me the opportunity to talk with the family of a man who was wrongly convicted of raping a fellow college student. Another inmate confessed to the crime and DNA tests eventually cleared Tim Cole, but not before he died in prison, having already spent 15 years behind bars.

What struck me from meeting his family was Cole's mother and her pain, now decades later, over not just her son's wrongful conviction, but how he had been treated in the media. The newspapers called him the "Tech Rapist." Tim Cole was attending Texas Tech in Lubbock at the time of his arrest. He was a veteran and had never been in trouble with the law. I can imagine the kind of coverage once he was arrested and convicted.

Remember Richard Jewell? Different from the case of someone who was convicted (and later cleared) but in general, just a few cases to keep in mind as you do your daily work.

Monday, September 14, 2009

New News Accuracy Ratings

They don't look good. Courtesy of the Pew Research Center:


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Critique of Wildfire Coverage

Ran across this article and found it interesting. One of the big criticisms is that stations weren't on early enough with fire coverage.


I don't know how accurate the article's criticisms are but I do know in big breaking news, it's crucial to get on the air quickly. It's all hands on deck. If you have a helicopter that can be over the scene, get it there. No copter? Try to get a live truck with a mastcam that can provide a continuous shot. Ask viewers for their pics. Use google earth to get a sense of the area.

Get everyone working the phones to find information and guests your anchors can interview live (police, Red Cross, fire, people living in the area, businesses).
Do whatever you can to get viewers the information they need. Especially in fire situations, this information is BEYOND crucial. People will use it to make decisions that impact their lives.

((One final aside-- if this is an area with place names your anchors don't use often, get pronoucers when you're calling police/fire for info.))

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day

I am not laboring today but my thoughts and thanks are with those of you who are.

I am thinking about ordinary people's stories. Over the weekend, I heard the radio program "This American Life." They were set up at a rest-stop and just talked with people. They did something similar at an 24 hour diner a few years back. Both came up with some really interesting stories.

Since I am not working today, I have been doing some reading, flipping through a book from Studs Terkel called "Working." He also just went out and talked to people, all kinds of people, butcher, bake, candlestick maker, and asked them about their work.

You could do something similar today. If you have somebody sharp free, send them to a park and ask people what they do. Describe it. What they like about it or dislike about it. You might be able to put together an interesting story for the end of your A block. Or maybe use individual sots as a bump in or out of a segment.

Sometimes it's ordinary people can have the most interesting stories to tell.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Director's track

My father-in-law found this on You Tube. It sounds like the director's recording of a British newscast from the 80s. I thought it was interesting. Some things never change.