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Question about TV report

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by imjustagirl, Jun 24, 2008.

  1. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    Lugs, markvid, I'm looking at you guys (and any other TV folks).

    I am prefacing this by saying I don't have any clue how to do TV. I stink at doing Webcasts, let alone not being able to reshoot and edit. So I am NOT painting with a broad brush here.

    I have the local Fox news on in the background, and they lead with a situation. There are state police cars, local cop cars, lights all spinning.

    I'm going to transcribe. Thank god for Tivo.

    "At this point it's still very much an active scene where a lot of information isn't making its way to us just yet, but what we can tell you after talking to some neighbors and some other people who have been here for quite a while is we do believe this is a shooting investigation, a death investigation involving what we believe to be a 14-year-old.

    "At some point tonight, there were two cars here at Bumfuck Road and New Bumfuck Road. This is around 8 o'clock. There was a confrontation involving the people inside those two cars. At some point, either inside or outside of the vehicles, gunfire was exchanged. One 14-year-old boy, we believe, was shot and died. Another teenager was shot and then airlifted to City University Medical Center where he is listed at least in serious condition at this point.

    "In terms of what else is happening right now, there is a very active state police scene behind us, but the actual crime scene, or at least where the body was found, the one body, is a considerable distance down Bumfuck Road which we don't see from our vantage point right here. The state police is assisting the Small Town sheriff's office in completing this investigation. Until a spokesman from Small Town comes out here to brief us, at this point, all we have to go on is the word that neighbors are spreading right now which is that a 14-year-old has died and another teenager is in the hospital right now. At the moment, that is what we have learned, but as we continue to get more information, we will be certain to pass that on to you."

    Now, maybe it's just because it's on TV, so it's different than reading it to me, plus it's just on in the background...but do you really lead a newscast with a standup from a scene with no hard facts other than a kid being listed in "at least serious condition?" Couldn't you do a "There has reportedly been a shooting in Small Town and we're working to get you details before this half-hour is up?"

    It just sounded odd to me to have the entire standup done based on rumors from residents...and stating that was all you had.

    Am I wrong? Is this the same thing as "Sources say Joe Schmoe has been kicked off the team?"
  2. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    Update, proving my point, since he's now actually talked to the cops, I'm assuming with the more strong points.

    "Just in the past half-hour, we've been able to ascertain some more precise information, so let me try to reconstruct what happened out here as best I can. There were two victims here, two young men, one who was 14 years old and one who was 18 years old. It was the 18-year-old who was fatally shot just a little while ago here on Bumfuck Road or near Bumfuck Road. The 14- or 15-year-old -- we had difficulty nailing down exactly how old this young man is, was apparently shot in the back and then taken to the hospital with serious, if not life-threatening, injuries. The 18-year-old was fatally shot.

    "They were approached at some point by three people in a separate car, a female and two other males. Some sort of argument ensued and then one of the people inside the car with the three people fired the shots and they all started arguing here, where we are, on Bumfuck Road, but the fatal shot was not fired until about three miles away. Suffice it to say, we are nowhere near where that fatal shot was fired. State police have blocked off the road to anybody for several miles, so no one's getting close to that scene. We can tell you they're diverting all sorts of traffic off of Bumfuck Road to some of the surrounding communities.

    "To put this in perspective --- we're talking to some of the neighbors who have congregated out here and have been watching since about 8 o'clock --- this is an area where the houses are very nice, they have yards that are two acres big. This sort of thing doesn't happen out here according to these neighbors. So we still have a little bit of difficulty putting together what led to this shooting. Such a strange event out here in this part of Small Town County. At some point, when the sheriff's office is prepared to brief the media, we hope to have more information as to what led to this confrontation between these two groups of young people and then what led to a fatal shot against an 18-year-old man. That is the latest here in Small Town."
  3. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    I can't believe you live near Bumfuck Road.
  4. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    I don't. I live in Buford. Bumfuck Road is in the suburbs.
  5. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    In all seriousness, that does sound weak...but they were right about the murder.

    And it's an apples and oranges thing trying to compare this to print...in print, you don't filter the facts live. I wouldn't have gone live with that story. But that's why I'm not in TV. Among many other reasons. I'm also ugly and I talk funny and fast and I get nervous on camera. Other than that though I'm awesome.
  6. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    But they had the wrong kid dying. They had the 14-year-old (or 15, they're not sure) dead.

    Not saying newspapers don't screw it up. But I guess I don't understand how TV works. Could they have just said 'There has reportedly been a shooting. We've got Joe Blow at the scene, and we'll bring you details as we get them...' then just do the second standup instead of the first?

    I'm seriously just asking.
  7. Hustle

    Hustle Guest

    At our nearby Fox station, their newspeople are also fond of saying, "What we can tell you is..." It's like every other sentence out of their mouths is a community service. Thanks, Fox!

    But seriously, BYH is right. That first version is so loaded with hedges - "we believe," "at least," "word that neighbors are spreading," etc.

    I'm not in TV either and have zero clue about how the operation works. But my thought would have been to open the newscast with a breaking news graphic (if your station has one), let the anchors summarize a little better than the reporter did ("We have word of an apparent homicide on Bumfuck Road tonight. Details are sketchy at this point, but witnesses on the scene are saying..."), make note of the reporter on the scene and promise to come back to the story later in the newscast when details firm up.

    Either way, you were going to have to toss to the live shot. But there would have been less extraneousness, including the erroneous fact that a 14-year old died. But again, I know nothing of television news.

    EDIT: Dammit IJAG, you beat me to it.
  8. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    It's a matter of accountability and accuracy being sacrificed for immediacy...
  9. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    Which is why I could never do TV. I used to think it must be easy, until I had to do audio for our site. Even then, I could write out a script.

    I stammered, I stuttered, I talked too fast. If I'm that guy, I'd probably throw 15 libelous or statements that could get us sued in the first 45 seconds. God bless those who can keep track of what they're supposed to say and say it without fucking up.

    God knows I can't.
  10. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    The short answer, from a TV news producer's perspective...

    You do the live shot but leave out details like the age unless you've got something better than rumor in a crowd of neighbors.

    It is, as someone said, apples and oranges -- people accept that in live TV it's a fluid situation and you have to make it clear when your information isn't totally confirmed.

    Saying "we have a reporter on the scene, but we won't take you there live until we confirm the details" isn't an option. You take the live shot. Having a reporter on the scene give whatever information he or she has is better than having an anchor do it, for a variety of reasons -- not the least of which is the reporter is the one gathering the information in the first place. The anchor only knows what the producer tells him, and the producer only knows what the reporter tells him.

    Bottom line, the live shot on breaking news is more visually interesting that the talking head behind the desk and does a better job of telling the story. Every time.
  11. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    Fair enough. Thanks, PC.
  12. markvid

    markvid Guest

    Well, I've never done TV news. I have been nothing but sports since 1985.
    I will defer as well to Luggie on this one, but I think in the race to be first, that reporter took an awful lot of risk that seems to have failed. You ID the wrong person as dying, that's just sloppy reporting because you tried to be first, not right.
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