“Be creative. We don’t want you to just stand there during your live shot. Do something. Get involved in the story.” If you earn a wage as a field hand in the local TV news, you’ve heard it. You’ve probably heard it uttered by somebody who covers news by staying indoors all day in a building surrounded by satellite dishes. You’ve probably rolled your eyes after hearing it. And you’ve done it anyway.
You’ve walked. You’ve squatted. You’ve demonstrated. You’ve pirouetted.
After you’ve done it, you may have even high-fived your photog. Because a creative live shot always beats a live shot standing stock-still in front of a dark building. You might even grudgingly acknowledge that the desk-bound producer was right in demanding it.
Ross Cavitt probably didn’t high five his photog after his 6pm live shot Tuesday in Cobb County, where residents are recovering from last week’s flooding. Cavitt is the kind of guy who doesn’t need to be cajoled into doing something creative on-camera. He does it because it helps tell the story.
Cavitt produced a story on WSB about the crushing effects of the flood and the debris it left behind.
And Cavitt did his live shot seated on the edge of a dumpster.
Dumpsters and TV reporters have had a historically troubled relationship. When they get together, rarely does anything good come of it. Occasionally, you’ll see a TV reporter trying to parlay a story out of the contents of a dumpster — typically, something toxic or sensitive. In so doing, the viewer waits breathlessly for the reporter to enter the dumpster, the reporter’s dignity instantly running for the exit.
But Cavitt’s too cool for such stuff. Cavitt doesn’t mind getting dirty, but you’ll never find him inside a dumpster. Likewise, Cavitt would never sit on the edge of a dumpster filled with the skanky detritus of a restaurant or a garden-variety apartment complex.
Cavitt’s dumpster was filled with the torn-up remains of the homes of flood victims. This was clean, beloved material until the water rose and soaked it. By the simple act of sitting on the edge of the dumpster, Cavitt symbolically embraced its contents, and the story.
This was no easy feat. Cavitt kept his dignity intact during a dumpster live shot. He gave the producers something creative. He didn’t pirouette. He didn’t even move, really. Yet he did something I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen before on TV. Grade: A