TEAMWORK FOR BETTER STORYTELLING
||How can you tell better stories on
television? One way is to improve your teamwork from beginning
to end. We gathered these tips at the 2005 Southwest Broadcast
News Conference in Dallas.
- Talk early. Reporters and photographers should
come to the morning meeting to suggest story ideas and have some
say in who they'll work with that day. If that's not possible,
touch base with each other as soon as you are assigned. A reporter
making calls on a story can benefit from a photographer's perspective.
Photographers can help reporters think about the video they might
need before leaving the station. An early conversation about the
story could tip the photographer to bring special equipment for
the shoot. Don't wait until you are in the car!
- Watch the attitude. Attitude is contagious,
says reporter Bob Hawman of KDFW. It's easy to let someone else's
bad mood drag you down. So find a way to change the tone at the
very start of the day. KDFW reporter Rebecca Aguilar says she
gets to know each photographer she works with personally. "Get
them in a good mood by talking about something they love,"
she says. "Show you care about them." Beyond that, says
KDFW reporter Scott Sayres, "Don't treat the photographer
like a caddy, but like a partner."
- Have a plan. Before you get to the scene, talk
about how you'd both like to see the story play out. How do you
visualize it all coming together? What do you hope to see and
hear in this story? If it's not the way you pictured it when you
get to the scene, come up with a Plan B. Be sure to do this together,
so you're both on the same page.
- Communicate. Mind-reading only works in the
movies. Photographers need to tell reporters when they've captured
a perfect shot, and if they have a line in mind to go with it,
they should share that too. Reporters need to tell photographers
if there's a shot they definitely need to get a point across.
Talk about what you'll use for opening and closing video--don't
leave it to the editor to figure out later. On breaking news,
when there's no time to screen the video, photographers should
make sure reporters know exactly what they have to work with.
- Help each other. Most photographers appreciate
it when the reporter steps in to help put a wireless on the main
character, or holds the shotgun wireless in the right place to
get good nat sound. Reporters are thrilled when photographers
share information they get from their best sources [yes, photographers
do have sources, says Edgar Solis of KTVT]. Photographer Juan
Renteria of WFAA says he tries to think like a reporter as well
as a photographer. "I ask, what lines would I use here, if
I use this image? What other shots do I need for a sequence? Everybody
should think like each other, like a producer, to make the best
- Follow up. After the story airs, talk about
how it went. If there's something you would have liked to do differently,
discuss it. Remember, this wasn't "my" story or "your"
story but "our" story, so the conversation should focus
on what "we" might have changed.