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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Hold Your Thoughts on Live Shots

I said this in my previous blogs, but I want to say it again: I am so excited about the new technologies available at the Media Center. I was amazed at how interactive and intriguing our coverage could be, especially when we incorporated a live shot in our show last Monday. But the excitement doesn't mean we should overuse those tools. When I came in to produce today, I had a whole list of story ideas that could be potentially covered in our newscast, but none of them required a live shot. In my opinion, live shots are only good if they are meaningful. Therefore, the producers must do a lot of thinking, planning and coordination before getting to that point. 

With that in mind, I usually ask myself: Why would putting a reporter outside of a room matter? How would this enhance our story? And why was the location relevant? 

I think a live shot should add more dynamic elements to a newscast, something that makes the story more compelling to the viewers, creates a feeling that they were actually there at the scene, and provides more information than they would have had without the live shot. For example, I really like how Alex Janin delivered her live shot when she was standing at the Annenberg lobby where an arts exhibit took place. She guided the audience and walked through some of the interesting works. And her interpretation was so detailed-oriented that it made me almost feel like I was there at the scene. 

A successful live shot should also have a relevant location. By relevance, I mean the background could advance or bring more to the story. Being in a location where the story took place is simply not enough on its own. But I do want to put a reporter in front of a building for a live shot when the place is part of the story, and we can either describe what is happening behind the reporter or use the place to elaborate on some relevant issues. 

After discussing with my faculty adviser, I decided not to incorporate a live shot in Monday’s show because there was no compelling interest for any of the stories. I initially thought of having our reporter Cole Sullivan deliver a live shot standup for the preshow and his package. But I eventually gave up on the idea given that his story is mainly data driven and he has to be on the anchor chair during the show. Also, delivering a live shot is not a simple decision; it takes an army of people. Not only do we need a reporter ready to go, but we also need a trained cameraman, a producer in the control room talking and cuing the reporter, and a director who is in control of the broadcast. 

My goal for the next week is to come up with more creative live shot ideas. I especially want to include it in one of my preshows. But before I make the decision, I have to think it through. 

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