Lesson Plan: TV Newscast Producing (Week 4)

Assigning reporters to live shot worthy stories

One of the responsibilities of a producer is to help choose stories for reporters to cover in a newscast.  For a morning newscast, for example, there are usually two live shot reporters.  Ideally, the producer would work with the assignment desk manager to choose the stories for the reporters.  If there is a story that is scheduled to take place later in the day, a reporter could potentially be placed on that story, to do a preview package.  This could include anything like a city council vote on a big issue, or preparations for the Thanksgiving Day Parade.  A producer’s job is to always try to put together a show with stories that are interesting.  But all of those stories, including those reporters will be assigned to, are subject to breaking news.  Breaking news will always take precedence.  A staff of writers could write dozens of stories within a newscast, and it’s the producer’s prerogative to kill those stories when he/she is on the air, if breaking news is being covered. 

For a morning newscast, if there is no breaking news, an ideal story for a reporter would be a follow up to a big story from the night before.  The reporter would recap the story from the night before, and highlight the newest developments that happened while viewers were asleep.  For an evening newscast, a reporter’s live shot story could be the biggest story that was followed throughout the day, that still has elements developing.  Like we spoke about breaking news, a live reporter’s story topic could easily be a national or an international story.  With the help of video news services that provide images, video and soundbites – a national or international story (depending on level of importance) could be covered by a local reporter, who could go out into the local community and collect man on the street (MOS) interviews to put in their reporter packages.  It is a producer’s job to monitor elements and provide that information to the reporter.  Examples of video news services are CNN Newsource, Associated Press Video, Getty Images.  Each network has their own in-house video news service.  Affiliate stations upload video from their respective cities, and it’s placed on the news service site for other stations in the affiliate group around the country, to use.

In-class exercise

Record a local newscast, watch it with the class and dissect the stories covered by reporters with live shots.  Discuss the elements the reporter used and where in the newscast the reporter story was placed.