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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

We're Doin' It Live

There's just something really cool about live television.  Yes, I said cool.  I'm bringing it back to my elementary school days in the 90's.  Bring on the Lisa Frank binders, gel pens and Beanie Babies.

You can follow the high-speed car chase going on across the Pacific Coast Highway.  And you can witness the emotional actress stumble over her words as she accepts whatever award for whatever project in front of whatever Academy.  You can watch the switch pass and energetic dunk at the buzzer to win the championship game.  And you probably watched Janet Jackson change lives and censorship rules in front of an audience of millions at the 2001 SuperBowl.

Then there's the news.

Incorporating live shots into the news is incredibly engaging and helpful in sharing stories with your audience.  Just as Americans love the thrill of live TV, they subsequently love feeling like they are the first to know the details on a breaking story.  This is best done through the technique of live shots. 

A live shot in a newscast is so valuable because it allows us to relay the latest news to our audience.  There's something very organic about it because it's just the reporter, the news and the action around them.  There's no editing, no clever writing and really no ability to tap into our Type-A personalities and figure out all of the details ahead of time.  It's a touch-and-go process.

I think what's most endearing about live shots in a newscast is that they almost serve as a "sneak peak" for the viewers.  Well, that is when it actually works.

Here at ATVN, our technology isn't perfect.  I remember during our 2012 election coverage we tried to do a handful of live shots.  Some worked, some didn't.  Unfortunately our Skype and Streambox aren't always the most reliable.  That being said, when the live shot works, it really does help out our coverage.

Unfortunately on Thursdays, we don't have the capabilities to do a live shot because we don't have someone to run the Streambox equipment. This week specifically, having a live shot could have added depth to our broadcast.  It was the one year anniversary of the two USC graduate students who were killed in a carjacking, and the Viterbi School of Engineering held a tree-planting ceremony in their honor.  The ceremony started at 4 p.m. so with our 6 p.m. show, it could have been a nice element to have a reporter report live from the new tree in the aftermath of the event.  But unfortunately, you can't rub a magic lamp and make a Streambox operator appear out of thin air.

So, this is the part where I ask you, as an frequenter, to join our team for the last three weeks and learn how to work live shots.  Maybe you can even have a life-changing Janet Jackson moment yourself.  Just kidding, I don't think Trojan Vision would be all too thrilled.

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