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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Learning To Let Go Of Your Reporter’s Hand


My greatest concern everytime I send out my reporters is the fear they they will eaither run out of time or schedule interviews too late. When I first assign them their stories I try to be very concrete in my description of what I want and what angle I want them to follow. Usually their facial expressions help me gage how effective I've been at relating this information. If I get a head nodding then I succeeded, a quizzical look or a tilted head, means the opposite. I also always ask, "Do you understand what I want?" This question somewhat requires my reporter to respond to me with what they understand the story is. I have to admit that sometimes I feel that my reporter's think that I question their intellectual ability, but I just try to be clear in what I want so I never have to worry about a reporters package going off topic or not understanding the point of their story in the first place. Throughout the day I check in with my reporters to see their progress and ask who and what they have on camera. My first emphasis is on having enough b-roll and my second is having the other side of the story. From experience, I feel that its possible to get so caught up in one or two main interviews and locations, that the story can turn into a series of talking heads or an advertisement. Once my reporters gets back, instead of asking them what they got again, I tell them what they told me and ask if I am missing anything. This way I feel that I show my reporters that I actually am listening to their progress. Past that point I have the utmost faith in reporters, hoping that they budget their time well between writing and editing. One of my pet peeves was when my producers would call me over three times at the end of the day asking my progress all the while slowing me down. Right before we go on air I may be nervously hovering to make sure we make deadline, but learning to be more hands off but well informed makes everyone more efficient.

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