Daily Archives: August 30, 2009

The ten rules of newsgathering

b_lion3The ten rules of newsgathering are primarily for the benefit of TV reporters.  However, you are encouraged to apply them to your everyday life as well.

No-parking-sign-(resized-250)1.  If something happens “all the time,” it’s unlikely to happen when you deploy a camera to shoot it.

2.  When shooting “man on the street” interviews, always ask individuals.  Groups of people delight in telling goons with microphones to f#ck off.   Separate the individuals from the herd, as would the lion stalking a meal on the Serengeti.

3.  When searching for parking, and presented with a space specified as “NO PARKING,” park in that space.  “NO” stands for “news organization.”  (h/t HPY.)

4.  It’s the reporter’s responsibility to ensure that the photographer gets a meal during your shift.  Take that responsibility seriously.  You don’t have to buy the meal.  Just make sure there’s time allotted.

5.  Always offer to help the photographer carry gear.

6.  Don’t wander into your competitor’s shot.  Don’t absentmindedly (or deliberately) drive your shiny happy “NewsCenter 3!” live truck behind a competing reporter while that reporter is doing a live shot.  “What goes around, comes around.”  Speaking of…

7.  If you aren’t sure whether you’re writing a cliché, you probably are.  Write something else instead.

Quality currency:  Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

Quality currency: Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

8.  If the phone rings at five minutes after noon, beware.  It means that the newsroom managers have seen something on a competing TV station’s noon news that your station has overlooked.  The phone call means you’re being asked to recoup on a story with a rapidly fading pulse.  Consider waiting five minutes, then return the call.  The problem may solve itself.

9.  When covering hurricanes, always pack a cooler of beer.  Beer is not only a refreshing must-have for those 18 hour workdays, but it is also useful currency with disaster crews, displaced residents and other media.  Those folks can make or break your coverage and your well-being.  Make sure the beer goes on the expense report.  If questioned by a bean counter, refer the questioner to these rules.

10.  Never run, except for exercise or if somebody’s life is in jeopardy.  Running diminishes dignity.   Dignity is valuable and frequently in short supply in your industry.   Never, ever break into a trot within the boundaries of a newsroom.  Unless you’re running from an axe murderer or the like.  Which isn’t completely out of the question.