Often when things don’t go as planned it’s usually on a day when you’ve actually had more than enough time to prepare, ensuring your newscast is ready when the lights come on. Reporter packages are done early; reporters have more time to work on the intro and tag to their stories. The anchors are at peace over whether their assigned stories are written in a conversational style. Plus, everyone has a little more time to make sure they look good before stepping in front of the camera.
(Cue the record scratch) #$#@&*%
I remember one night a few months ago, right before the start of our newscast the entire news team was in place about 10 minutes (that’s an eternity) before the start of the show. We were sitting and standing around just waiting for the news open to roll.
Once the show began, we made it through the top story intro to the reporter just fine. The reporter also made it through their story intro just fine, but a few seconds after the story started to play, it froze on the air. Of course, this woke everyone up, especially the reporter who was expecting the story to roll on smoothly; it didn’t.
The director dumped out of the story; came back to the young reporter who looked shocked and a little terrified, on camera, at what was going on. The package just failed to air, the prompter wasn’t where it was supposed to be and we were getting little to no direction from the booth about what was happening and where to go next. These are the times when you feel the heat and the hair stands up on the back of your neck.
After a few stumbles, the reporter eventually recovered; no doubt with some newly grown hair on their chest and some experience on knowing how to better handle these types of situations.
This is one of many examples of why as a reporter working on live television; you’ve got to be ready to tell your story regardless of what happens unexpectedly to and around you. I discuss, in detail, one of the ways on how to make sure you’re ready in my book, and that’s by knowing your story.
When you truly know your story, you won’t need a script to tell viewers what they should know about the subject. You’ll be able to clearly and confidently deliver the information even when your newscast experiences a meltdown. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will, so be ready!