Standup options, outlined here

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When I produced a sometimes-amusing feature segment in the late 90s, it was frequently derailed by inconvenient breaking news.  When a madman decides to commit mass murder in Buckhead, nobody wants to hear about the guy who made jewelry out of Viagra.  When tornadoes ravage nearby communities, no producer wants to include a segment in her newscast about cows sleeping on waterbeds in Tifton.  When the US has a foreign policy event that is the talk of the world, nobody wants to see the story about the pig guzzling Pepsi-Cola in Jesup.

But as the Managing Editor of this blog, I no longer have to abide by the old-school norms of the Lamestream Media.  Yeah, I wrote a post Monday about Bin Laden, and related it to my little stint during the invasion of Iraq.  The post was weak, so I didn’t publish it (though I’ve stashed it here.  Feel free to agree with my assessment.)

Outstanding in their field: Predecessors of Flood and Richards

Instead of pulling something from today’s headlines, I’m delighted to inflict upon you the above video, shot in late April while Steve Flood and I visited Vidalia for a story about agricultural workers and immigration and the awesome Vidalia onion.  While Flood had a field day (yes!) with the video, I tried to roughly assemble the story’s framework in my brain.  Such assembly is necessary in order to execute a standup that actually enhances the storytelling.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds.  I discard about one in ten standups I perform (as I do blog posts) because they don’t fit or I just don’t like them upon review.

Though you’re not supposed to write a story before completing the newsgathering process, it’s OK to write a framework.  Sometimes I’ll actually do it on paper, in the field.  More often, I do it in my head.  For a standup, I’ll try to find a part of the story that

  • needs editorial emphasis
  • transitions visually or editorially between one point and another
  • covers copy that isn’t supported by video
  • demonstrates something or shows a relationship between two locations (usually within walking distance.)

Standups can also be done to fulfill promotional or formatting needs.  The standup close is often helpful when a deadline is tight — it helps conclude the story quickly in editing.

But enough about that.  The above video is about technique.  As I pondered a standup for my onion / immigration story, this Suspicious Package piece burst into my head instead.  It’s the first one I’ve produced spontaneously, without a script.  Flood graciously shot it.  In so doing, I also managed to execute a standup (“the network standup”) for our onion field story.

And it actually worked.

The photo was lifted from Feeding the Beast,  a cool blog about old-old school motion-picture newsgathering.

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This entry was posted in suspicious package, WXIA on by .

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.

4 thoughts on “Standup options, outlined here

  1. WomBat

    Words can not due justice to how wonderful, and what a true treat is it, to watch those delightful onions being harvested and on the way to my local K Roger.

    Thanks you.

    Reply
  2. Odette

    Nice post, and nice finished product with the news report! I’ve been struggling a lot with standups lately. This advice was *almost* helpful, but then I realized I only work with audio…

    Reply
  3. Townplanner

    A very good feature story that gives a good look at what it is like to be a farm worker. Doug’s narration and choice of people to interview is good — but not perfect. Mr. Stanley, the farmer, no doubt works hard; has built a great operation; and is trying to obey all laws. But let’s get real: if he could get away with paying these workers A NICKLE A BASKET instead of 38¢ he would do it. Notice that Mr. Stanley is not out on his hands and knees picking onions. Doug would not be making news stories for 38¢ a minute (works out to about $47,400 per year). Mr. Stanley gets to imply that people who won’t work for his low pay are lazy — no one responds to that bit of conventional conservative wisdom. Economics tells us that in a free market, people get to choose where they work and at what price they want to work at — and they get to deal with the consequences. If Stanley wants to hire local / American / LEGAL workers, then he needs to pay the MARKET price for that labor — maybe even minimum wage. That may mean a Vidalia onion might cost 10 times what is does now. But that is what the MARKET says it ought to cost. But we all want our Vidalias cheap and plentiful, don’t we? Our hypocrisy is the bigger issue. Granted, hard to fit that in a short news feature. And not palatable, either.

    Reply
    1. Baker

      Wingo Townplanner. “But we all want our Vidalias cheap and plentiful, don’t we? Our hypocrisy is the bigger issue”

      Dead on. It’s not that Americans aren’t willing to do those jobs, it’s that Americans know what the minimum wage is. There is no solution to it because there is no way people wouldn’t go nuts when grocery prices quadrupled. (sorry for the triple negative there)

      Reply

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