Foot forward

The “standup” is a bit of a misnomer.  Those of us who make appearances in th’ TV news stand in front of cameras, and intone.  It’s true.  But the standup isn’t just about standing there and talking out loud to a camera lens.  Stand in a relaxed, flatfooted stance, and the material itself becomes flatfooted.  As a man who has delivered an abundance of flatfooted material on television, I know this.

Jeff Hullinger and I demonstrate the action stance.

Each time I appear on camera, I continually have to remind myself:  I’m not standing here, chatting amiably with my friends.  I am here to deliver. I am here (as I learned from Budd McEntee) to sell the story. If I seem uninterested in the story, then I cannot expect the audience to be interested.  If the audience isn’t interested, they’ll find another newscast.  If I’m not selling the story, I’m hurting the ultimate goal of my employer, which is to keep eyeballs glued to our TV channel.

I have to remind myself of this each time I appear on camera, because this thinking is unnatural to me.  My persona, as I perceive it, is more relaxed.  I’m “a Type C” personality, as McEntee once called me, with a mix of humor and venom.  I don’t dispute that.

My self-reminder starts with positioning.  Many years ago, I heard a photog refer to “the action stance.”  He meant it disparagingly.  But as a guy who needed to muster all the action I could into my on-camera appearances (not to mention, coherence), I adopted the action stance as a way to make me embody the excitable on-camera field reporter.

The body is angled slightly.  One foot is forward.  The hand on the forward part of the body holds the mic.  The knees are slightly bent.  The footwork is especially important.  The balls of the feet bear much of the weight.  Frequently, at least one heel is off the ground completely.

The raised eyebrow is optional.

When the reporter is properly framed, you don’t see the action stance on camera.  But it’s viewable when TV reporters are lined up, covering the same story (walk past Central Ave. and ML King Jr. Dr. at noon whenever there’s a big trial at the Fulton County Courthouse).

I’m a reporter.  I also play one on TV.

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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.

18 thoughts on “Foot forward

  1. Lisa Clark

    I adore and miss BOTH of you … but do NOT miss standing in front of some (now-defunct) video store compiling a Top Ten list of snowbound consumer rentals! (Confidential to Doug: it was most wise of you not to even try to compete with Jeff’s raised eyebrow and piercing stare. Some things just CAN’T be topped!)

    Reply
  2. ManfromAtlanta

    I’ll never watch you guys “deliver” without thinking about the action stance. BTW, hat tip to your cohort Hullinger on the state seal story — really liked it from start to finish.

    Reply
  3. Cheeto Crumbs

    I didn’t know about the action stance until reading this post.

    I’ve often noticed that Mark Winne (hallowed be his name) seems to moonwalk in place, almost as though he’s walking toward the camera on a treadmill when he’s doing a particularly hot story. The man’s got delivery mojo and must be doing his own variation on this stance. During his weather live shot this afternoon I heard him say, “the roads out here are slicker than a telemarketer’s sales pitch.” Had to smile over that.

    Reply
  4. Writing girl

    I like what you and Mr. Hullinger are bringing to ole WXIA.
    Raised eyebrows are to be appreciated in a man.

    Reply
  5. Tony Shin

    I’ve also found the position of the mic to be very important as well. I don’t hold it upright. Instead, I position it with a slight tilt. It’s what I like to refer to as the “eating a chicken leg” method. But don’t tilt it too much or else you’ll look like a fool, who literally appears to be eating the mic like a chicken leg. You may want to practice in front of the mirror before you attempt to go on the air with it. Once perfected, and with the addition of the other “stand up” tips, you will be able to convey this message to the viewers..”I am a person who can’t wait to tell you a story, and boy, is it good!” Happy live shots everyone!:)

    Reply
  6. Mike Daly

    Doug, you forgot to mention that you hold the mic slightly off to one side so the viewers can see your tie. How’d you put it? Something like if your kids were going to buy you a five dollar tie for Father’s Day, then you were going to show it on TV.

    Reply
    1. live apt fire Post author

      My kids aren’t that cheap, but I am. The rationale is: “If I’m going to spend five bucks on a fine new tie, then by gosh, the audience is gonna see it.”

      Reply
  7. Lenslinger

    As a veteran photog I know the action stance well. Might I request you cover something as fundamental as the preemptive (and presumptive) nod so many field correspondents reflexively emit as their anchor lead-in is read? I blame Stone Phillips.

    Reply
  8. Johnny374@gmail.com

    Doug, you’re a down to earth real guy.

    But Hullinger? Pleeeeeze. He is mr ego head. Watch him anchor, it’s all about him. Last night his staged live shot outside the falcon’s stadium at 10 pm was nauseous. It was so staged, I can’t believe boss lady endorses that.

    Reply
    1. live apt fire Post author

      If you’re suggesting that Hullinger has a strong on-air presence, I don’t think anybody would dispute that. I’ve seen lots of unclever ego-driven news folks. Jeff is clever.

      Reply
  9. Bill Hartman

    The nod is a way of letting the control room know you can, in fact, hear the anchor. If you can’t, your troubles are just beginning!

    Reply
  10. Gilberta Woman

    I like Doug and I like Jeff.
    Hullinger is a strong presence on an anchor desk.
    I watched his work during the storm and wondered why he wasn’t used in that role at 11Alive more.
    His work and your work is always interesting.
    Keep it up.

    Reply
  11. Townplanner

    Like wideouts ready to fire out at the snap…
    Hullinger has been a real surprise as news reporter –much better than in his days as sportscaster. He’s got game — particularly when interviewing lying treacherous scum… urr, our honorable elected officials. You guys were a great team during the “Indecision 2010” elections. Keep it up.

    Reply

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