In our B3 meeting/lecture/roundtable yesterday (I call it that because it’s technically a lecture, but it’s so informal that it feels more like a meeting/roundtable) we discussed and viewed good/bad/ugly live shots. I may be on my own in this, but I think “going live for the sake of going live” is a good thing. Having reported in live shots, and set up live shots as the truck operator, I think it provides an important link in a newscast. Yeah, it might be completely worthless standing in the dark as a “floating head”, but to me, that means you need to be more creative. Show me something worth flipping to from the studio – even if it’s a sign or some sort of “scenic” backdrop (i.e. field, stadium, building, traffic). It can sometimes appear cheesy, but I like the aspect of “Hey, we ARE out in the community paying attention to things that are going on.” As a reporter, I enjoy them because it gives me a lot of face time and a chance to show either my personality, or show something related to the story in more detail than I would be able to in the studio. Does the fact I enjoy it for face time detract from the journalistic quality? Perhaps.
I can see the argument both ways. With our training, I feel we’re pretty apt to not let our personalities overshadow a story. The challenge comes for inexperienced live reporters who get nervous and stick strictly to a script, or get nervous from “YOU’RE ON LIVE TV. GO!!!” For me, that nervousness doesn’t happen. Yes, the adrenalin kicks in, but I love that.
I attribute the fun of it to a line I heard several years ago (circa 2005) from Mike Quick, the high school sports producer, reporter, and anchor from MSG Network in New York. He taught the “advanced” section of the “Bruce Beck and Ian Eagle Sports Broadcasting Camp” in NJ. To this day, there are VERY few people who scare the living bejeezus out of me, and he is one of them. He’s probably 6’5″, 250 pounds, and as intense as Tom Coughlin. Anyway, we were doing on-camera exercises as a group. One person messed up, and Quick had him do it again. His advice? He spoke slowly, staring each one of us in the eye: “Calm down. It’s just TV. You’re not saving anybody’s life here. You’re not a surgeon, a doctor, a soldier, or a cop. It’s JUST TV.”
And that’s how I look at it. Live shots help me, as a reporter, keep perspective on our jobs.