Working A Day For The News

How The Day Starts

Reporters, producers and photojournalists have 30min. before the news meeting starts for our nightside broadcast. At times, given the quick turnout, reporters will take this time before the meeting to get the stories they've gathered and reach out to the people involved. This will help them gauge what is possible. For instance, if none of their leads are answering for a particular story idea but on another story two different people answered and are willing to be on camera.. then you start to see what is the better/more feasible option.  

When the meeting starts, producers, reporters, assignment editors and news director go over the ideas they have. Here they figure out overlaps, who covers what and the general road map for the day. 


Photojournalist Prep Work

Typically the photojournalist will prep their gear for the day. Sometimes I'll travel with my own gear if it's a particular story I feel I wanna cover with what I have. It's important to realize there's not a perfect camera setup. It all depends on preference. While standard ENG cameras are equiped with ND filters, XLR inputs with zoom triggers, top handle and shoulder mounts ready to go or placed on a tripod, their lenses can have an almost infinite depth of field and bodies a little to big for comfort when doing a ride along, making shots very shaky. For my personal gear I use a monopod with a GH4 and a 35mm Rokinon lens but ONLY if I know I'll be up close and personal. The tripod is for interviews so I can be locked off (camera not moving) and the orange bag is just tools and extra misc. items that I might need for my rig. I find using a mono pod and primes work pretty well. They really help you focus on the shot in front of you. For instance I was filming a mother looking for her lost child. Since I couldn't zoom in to frame the shot I automatically started rolling. This allowed me to get her right as she was giving her neighbor a very emotional hug. Had I been trying to frame up my shot, I might have missed that. 


Conducting The Interview & Shooting the Story

When greeting people for your story, it's important to be honest and clear. Listen to what they have to say, explain the interview process and let them know you're there so they can give their side of the story. Sometimes you'll begin filming from the start, lets say something just happened and you're trying to cover it as it unfolds, then other times you'll do the interviews first. I think it's always best to spend a little time with people and make small talk, this warms them up and helps to calm their nerves. Being in front of the camera can be uncomfortable for a lot of people and giving them a chance to breath and get a sense of who you are, I believe, really helps. I won't go into too many details of conducting an interview but here is a book that does an excellent job explaining how to do so.

As far as shooting goes, generally speaking I'll shoot wide, medium and tight then move and repeat. You want to make sure you cover plenty of material that relates to the story and communicate with your reporter so you all are on a common ground and don't miss anything. Cover these basics and get plenty of footage and you're in a good starting position.


Writing

A lot of times you are under pressure to get the story out in time either because you were forced to shoot late in the day, had to travel far or breaking news happened. This is common so you edit and write where you can. As you can see here, my reporter Gitzel is writing while on the road.

Not disturbing too much but keeping that line of communication open while they write is very important. It will allow you to further gauge what all your story will entail. 


Editing

Editing is similar in the sense you have a limited amount of time however you must wait till the reporter is done writing before you can completely finish your story. It's usually a good idea to keep communicating with your reporter. I usually have my reporter print out what they have so far in terms of sound bites, after they've logged all the ones they might wanna use. This way I can pull the bites, adjust the audio and trim the timing so they're good to go whenever I get the completed script. I also make sure to browse the footage I shot and pull out certain shots I feel might fit the story well, just like a reporter pulling sound bites.

Given time constraints I don't do a lot of color correction, just on particular shots and especially interviews. The first thing I'll do is lay down the reporters track, then I'll piece in the sound bites. Once everything is laid I'll start to add the video. Once I have the video down I can see how much time I have left and further perfect the story, be it color correcting, adding my shots, finding NAT breaks (little snippets of audio/video that can happen, like a car driving by before my next edit). When you feel you've reached a good stoping point and you have time, get the reporter involved to wathc the piece, make and extra edits and send it out to air :)