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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Don't Forget Plan B

Now that we have the live shot technology we've been trying to incorporate them into all of our newscasts; however, there are definitely some key things to keep in mind if you want to have one in your show. First, you must plan ahead and really think through how the live shot will be incorporated to the show. Don't just have a live shot to have a live shot. It needs to advance the story in some way - especially visual stories! Next, you need to have a back-up plan in case the live shot doesn't work. These signals are tricky and it can very easily fail right before the show is supposed to go on air. Finally, you need to make sure everyone is on the same page so communication is key!

Last week, I was lead producer and was little ambitious in wanting to have a live shot off campus at the Staples Center. The signal here is so weak because of all the people that the live shot did not look good at first. We also had an untrained MJ operating the equipment and therefore, we ran into issues communicating when the reporter was on air. This was all last minute and a little spur of the moment which is why we had all of these hiccups. If we had planned ahead and had them there early to test then it would have been much smoother. We also learned the importance of communication so that the reporter knows exactly when they start talking. 

The live shot technology is really useful and makes our show that much more dynamic but we really need to think through the reasons for why we include a live shot in our show. Also, if for some reason the shot doesn't work then we need to make sure we have the reporter's script ready to go so the anchor can just read it for them. We have so many opportunities to use a live shot especially with on-campus events but as producers we must be able to justify having it as a part of our show. I don't want to send someone to do a live shot outside a building where a meeting is going on because it doesn't give the audience any substance. I'm really excited to see how these live shots will develop throughout the rest of the semester as we get more comfortable using the technology but one thing's for sure we must leave enough time to run through them and we can never forget to have a plan b!

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