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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Reporting Live for ATVN, I'm Shannon Reiffen

When you watch the evening news, a live shot is pretty standard. Whether there's a fire, a sporting event or a protest, it's normal to see a reporter communicating live from the scene of whatever is going on. It seems like an easy enough task, and with a large news station, it can be. But for ATVN, it's a little harder. Logistically, putting together a live shot for us is just a lot more complicated and requires more effort and planning.

Live shots have to be thought out in advance for us. The first (and so far only) live shot Team Thursday has done was decided in the morning to be incorporated into one of the stories we were doing. We had to decide during the morning meeting who would be doing the shot, who would be assisting, where it would take place, etc. We had decided to have Alyssa do a live shot from Staples Center, which would tie into her package about March Madness. However, when it came to crunch time, Alyssa wasn't able to stop editing her package and leave to do the shot. So we ended up sending Connor. After a few rough practices, we managed to get the live shot done fairly well for our first time. 

A live shot can be done very poorly or very well. If the reporter knows ahead of time exactly what they want to say before it begins, or is comfortable adlibbing, it can go well. Connor knew what he wanted to talk about, and practiced forms of it before we went live. He knew the information and said it smoothly. The issue was that we sent Bobby with him to film the shot, and although Bobby is very talented in the newsroom, he didn't know the camera all that well. It made for some stressful conversations between he and the producers, trying to explain things and sort out the kinks. In the future, I think the best bet is to send someone who has intimate knowledge of the camera and materials used to create the live shot, and who has done it before. Of course this was the first try, so it made sense that it didn't go perfectly.

I definitely want to keep trying live shots. This one went surprisingly well for our first shot, so I know we can only get better. Our reporters are very talented and do standups so well that I know they could get a live shot down. I think the key is training all the MJs and volunteers how to use the live shot equipment, and making sure everything is planned out as early as possible.

But hey, when it comes to news, even planning doesn't help sometimes! We just have to roll with the punches and see what happens, and that's my favorite part!

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