My laptop

QHey, TV reporter!  Who writes your stories for you while you’re fixing your hair and makeup??

A: Unless my name is Jenna Bush Hager, nobody writes stories for me.  I write them myself.  This answer often surprises the questioner, until it’s explained:  “That’s why so many TV stories are so poorly written.”

Photo by Richard Crabbe, the photog / cryptologist who turned the notes below into a TV story.

Photo by Richard Crabbe, photog / cryptographer, who turned the notes below into a TV story.

I would guess that I’ve written a majority of my TV stories on my laptop.  My laptop is pictured to the left.  It’s a yellow pad of paper.  It typically sits in my lap while I work in the back of a live truck.  At the end of the shoot, I view the day’s video.  On the laptop, I make notes from the video.

Based on those notes, I write a script in longhand on the laptop (see below).

Frequently, a photographer must decipher the material produced on the laptop and use it to guide video editing decisions.  The editor uses another laptop in the truck, the one that’s next to my right knee that’s hard-wired and chip-driven.   It has Avid editing software.  Unlike my laptop, that laptop is bolted into the truck.

Below, you’ll find video of the story produced during this particular shoot.  Below that, you’ll find  the product of my laptop.  Feel free to try to follow along.  (The notes don’t include the anchor intro or live shot ad libs.)

While you’re doing that, I’ll be applying a bit of blush.

Update: I’ve had to remove embedded video from WXIA, which was causing LAF to temporarily freeze up.  You can still play along by dragging the handwritten script to your desktop.  Open the desktop file, then click on my mug below.  That will take you to the story on 11alive.com.  Teams of engineers are allegedly trying to solve the embedded video problem as we speak.  Ugh.

doug richards wxia 9.23.09

bridges script
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About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

9 thoughts on “My laptop

  1. Jerry Carnes

    When you work with John Duffy, you’re in for an adventure and glorious entertainment. In the middle of a monsoon, John will turn to you and say…”So, a guy walks into a bar…” He’s still telling you the joke as he waltzes into the rain and shoots exactly the video you need for a compelling story.

    Reply
  2. Josh R.

    I’m sure there’s a sausage-making reference to be made in relation to this blog posting.

    Which begs the question… what reference do you make when you try to compare to the process of turning a TV story into a web story?

    Reply
  3. Steve Barton

    Good story that reached the air — my favorite bit seems like a non sequitur but works: “because of the tree.”

    Followed the link you provided for Jenna Bush MarriedName and did not understand your dig — do you know or assume she doesn’t write her own stuff, or is it just that jabs at certain folks are always okay, deserved or not?

    Was there any re-writing on this after submission to the editor (the laptop copy looks like the finished copy)? Eh, one index number is scribbled out and the “they’re also lost (?)” bit wasn’t in the story, was it?

    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    1. live apt fire Post author

      The Bush reference was to that handful of folk who are hired to “report” based almost solely on the fact that they’re celebrities. Jenna Bush is only the latest example I could think of. It’s great work if you can get it.

      That was the first and only draft of that story, the stream of consciousness, sediment and all. There was no re-write.

      The line you refer to says “they’re also closed,” which was the outcue to a soundbite that was in the story.

      Thanks for playing along – !

      Reply
  4. arky

    @Steve Barton: I guaran-damn-tee you Jenna Hager will not be writing her stories. That’s not a dig at her nor a claim that she’s incapable of doing it. But I have *never* seen a part-time celeb-respondent write his or her own material. It’s like expecting Michael Jordan to design his own sneaker.

    Reply

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