Giving Tuesday December 1 2020

Keep your reporting out of a rut

July 2, 2013 01:30

By Lynn Walsh, RTDNA Contributor

We get used to things, but we shouldn't.

In our business there isn't a lot that remains the same. So, when you get used to doing something a certain way and it works, it makes sense to want to always go back to it... time and time again. Not only does it make sense but it also saves time and can make our life a lot easier.

But is it what's best for our shows, story coverage and most importantly our viewers? I don't think it is. When we get used to things, coverage can become stale and our news coverage becomes predictable. When it becomes predictable, I think we risk missing out on covering different, interesting stories. I think we miss covering the variety of communities in our area. I think we miss hearing from the different voices in our community.

Below are a few things I think can become easy to get used to.

Storytelling: Whether using foreshadowing or multiple stand-ups, we sometimes find a technique that works and it's hard to let go. The problem is it becomes predictable and can take away from the story. Think of different techniques as tools. They are all part of your tool box to be used when appropriate, but not in every story.

MOS locations: We all know where the easy places are to get sound from people in our community; the Main Street in town, the popular mall, a local college. While guaranteed sound makes life easier, it limits voices and perspectives in our stories.

Sources: From the legal expert you can count on for everything to the local politician who always is willing to come to the station, we all have trusted sources we can always count on. Why not try to talk to a more specialized lawyer for stories or try harder to reach out to other politicians in the community? It offers a fresh perspective and possibly more targeted information.

Liveshot locations: For a story about an arrest, it's easy to stand in front of the jail or the police station but what is that adding to the story? Unless there is action taking place there, it doesn't give the most value to the story. Why not try to go to the scene of the crime or try to do a reenactment or some sort of walk through that describes what you are about to tell them about?

Show rundowns: Whether it is setting up a package or trying an outside liveshot for anchors, switching up the flow of a show can make the news fresh and fun for your viewers.

What techniques do you find yourself overusing? What ideas have you tried that work but you haven't used in a while? Let us know in the comments below.

Lynn Walsh in the Investigative Producer at WPTV, NewsChannel 5 in West Palm Beach, Florida. She loves holding the powerful accountable and spends more time than she would like fighting for access to public information. Follow her on Twitter and on Tumblr.