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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

A video is worth a thousand words


This week, my job for the newscast was video teammate, which meant I was the point person for checking all the videos with the scripts, whether they had someone talking or not. In essence, my main job was to make sure that whatever we were editing in the newsroom went along with what the anchor was supposed to say, so that the video that everyone watched at home had some relation to what the anchor was saying on air. Even though that sounds like a simple task, it's harder than it seems.

For one, our show this week had many local stories or national stories with local angles, which meant our multimedia journalists were shooting a lot of video themselves. Sometimes we use "file" video, or video that's collected by someone else through CNN's Newsource program. All those times that you see President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton or White House Spokesperson Jay Carney speaking from Washington, D.C.--that's all CNN footage cleared to be used by anyone who has this service. But even if you think you have all the video you need, you might still be missing that one bit for the one piece of information you want to tease.

Therefore, in order to write to the video that you want, it requires a lot of planning ahead, and a lot of plan Bs and Cs. Sometimes, you have to edit the video, then write to what you have. It's not necessarily the best option, but it makes the most sense to a viewer when they're seeing video that matches what they're hearing, rather than seeing something that doesn't make sense at all compared to what they're being told by the anchor or reporter. Even though it can seem small in the long run, writing to video is one of the most important skills a producer can have--and one of the most difficult things to do at the end of the day.

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