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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Let's Go Live

When people tell me that television news is "going away," I raise my eyebrow and challenge them to think back to moments of crisis in their lives and how they reacted. Even though social media has taken on a leading role in breaking news, from my anecdotal experiences, many people still say that if they're around a television set, they will turn it on to watch the breaking or developing story on TV.

One particular example that I always turn to for inspiration to stay in this industry is the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Even people who were very young, like I was, can remember the powerful images shared with America and the world through live television. Who can forget the second plane crashing into the tower or the buildings beginning to collapse? These traumatizing and unforgettable images left lifelong impressions in each of our minds. They scarred our collective memory so deeply that they altered our nations political, military and cultural history forever. Live television allows a story to resonate long after the anchors sign off.

Live reporting from the field brings the audience right to the scene. Whether it's something as historically-altering as a terrorist attack or as seasonal and common as a wildfire in Southern California, live shots are a critical tool necessary to deliver real-time information and visuals to our viewers. They allow us to show and tell our audience the most important things they need to see and know right as they are happening. Live TV has a real and immediate impact that is still unmatched by many other forms of media. On the flip side of the coin, live shots don't have to be hard or breaking news. As long as we deliver compelling visuals and interesting information, we can cover all sorts of stories live. If we think outside the box and communicate well with our field reporters, even a simple live shot can add a lot of value to our show. 

Pulling off a live shot can be extremely challenging, especially here at ATVN. Our Streambox or Skype technology is not always dependable, we don't have a live truck and we definitely don't have a helicopter. Live reporting also requires experienced anchors, reporters who can think on their feet and perhaps most importantly, producers that can keep it all together and deliver. Since ATVN starts anew every semester and the most experienced people graduate every year, it's hard to incorporate live shots consistently into our show. Our staff simply doesn't have the continuity necessary to make live shots an integral part of our newscasts.

That being said, as we move into the final weeks of ATVN, I am eager for my team to try and incorporate a least a couple of live shots into our shows. It will give all members of the news team invaluable experience and make our shows look more professional. I definitely think we can make it happen and am looking forward to kicking our show up a notch. Best of all, we live in sunny Los Angeles, so at the very least, we don't have to deal with inclement weather and the sun doesn't set until well after 7 pm!

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