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News Producing “Stacking the Show” ...not from our book Overview now / more later. Producing Across Technologies. News broadcasts formatted with three segments - news, weather, sports Balance of world, national, state, local news “Floating” formats used today

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News producing stacking the show not from our book overview now more later
News Producing“Stacking the Show”...not from our bookOverview now / more later

Producing across technologies
Producing Across Technologies

  • News broadcasts formatted with three segments - news, weather, sports

    • Balance of world, national, state, local news

  • “Floating” formats used today

    • Start newscast with most important story, regardless of category - “float” given stories anywhere in the newscast

  • Radio, TV, Internet generally have same news content

    • Technology dictates that delivery is slightly different

    • Which does the most ‘journalism’?

Producing across technologies1
Producing Across Technologies


    • Reporting is disappearing from most music radio formats

      • “Rip and Read” has become the news segment - DJs read stories straight off the national news wire or report what is in the local paper

      • A national news correspondent for a major television network will record a two-minute news update to be played on the air

    • Wire services allow stations to access regional, national, international news

      • Accompanying audio feed has actual sound bites from sources to play on air (also known as “actualities”)

    • Public Radio and major market radio still does original reporting

      • NPR produces national news shows daily

Producing across technologies2
Producing Across Technologies

  • Television

    • Local newscasts are usually scheduled around the national network newscast

    • Image of station with local news / competition

    • Lead in issues

    • ‘Newscast of Record’

    • Cable news is now offering a variety of news

      • YNN (News 8 Austin)

      • TXCN

      • News talk shows

      • Sports news

      • Financial news

      • News vs. editorial

Producing across technologies3
Producing Across Technologies

  • Internet

    • Can be engaged by the user at anytime

      • Makes it more important to be timely with updates

    • Combines print, audio, video

      • Internet was primarily a text medium, but as technology got more sophisticated, more users can take advantage of audio/video streaming capabilities

      • Shovelware risk vs. Interactive Storytelling

    • Users can choose how they want their news

      • Read a main story

      • Watch a short video clip or the full interview

      • Interact with the site - opinion polls with instant results, rollover graphics that offer interesting facts and statistics

      • Watch a slideshow of photos from the news scene

The television newscast
The Television newscast

  • Choosing the lead

    • Three definitions

      • First sentence of a story

      • First story in the newscast

      • Idea for a story

    • Before the newscast, always investigate the lead story

      • Can it be done?

      • Who should be contacted for info?

      • Is the story still timely?

      • Are there ethical concerns?

      • Is it hard or soft news?

      • What would be a good story to follow it? / Sidebar?

The television newscast1
The Television newscast

  • Writing the Lead story

    • The average broadcaster delivers 16 lines per minute

      • Using the standard two-column script format, about 5-6 words per line

      • ‘read rate’

    • Always write for time rather than space

The television newscast2
The (television) newscast

  • The Script

    • Split-page format

    • Left column gives instructions for producers and the control room

    • Right column includes the story being delivered on air

The television newscast3
The Television newscast

  • The Visuals

    • Video

    • Nat sound from the scene

    • Graphics

      • Weather maps

      • Charts

      • Names of people, locations to appear on screen with video

      • Still photographs

The television newscast4
The Television newscast

The weather map as an electronic image projected on screen

Interactive software programs -- contracts

“The most important part of a newscast”

Technology change to monitors

The television newscast5
The Television newscast

  • The Line-up

    • Stories chosen from day’s news plus wires and network (‘look live’)

    • A few stories chosen for “pad” (to be used if extra time at end)

    • Lead stories selected

    • Stories “blocked” around commercial breaks according to basic themes

      • “Thematic Blocking”

    • Stories pre-read for content and pacing

    • Last two stories are timed so anchors know exact amount of time after last commercial

      • If time remains, “pad” stories used

The television newscast6
The Television newscast

Anchors should read through all stories before going on air

For a professional delivery, learn to “chat” with audience instead of “announce”

Producing the newscast 16 steps
Producing the newscast:16 steps

  • Determine the news hole

    • Half-hour news is only 29 minutes, with an actual news hole of 15-18 minutes

    • Stations use capsulated summary stories to give the illusion of a lot of information

    • ‘billboard’

Producing the newscast
Producing the newscast

  • Block the newscast

    • Considering the news hole and budget of stories, visual stories are blocked into logical segments, separated by commercial breaks

Producing the newscast1
Producing the newscast

  • Fill in the newscast format sheet

    • The “rundown” or “line-up” is an evolving schedule of people, times, video showing, plus length of stories and order

    • Commercial stations use producing software like NewsCenter and ENPS, AvStar (desktop editing)

Producing the newscast2

Organize the newscast

Number each story/item consecutively

Organize the blocks and identify by letters:






Decide story order

Generally the biggest story goes first

If a breaking story has no visual element, it may not lead the newscast

A good reporter/producer will recognize the news value and work HARD to get a visual so the story can lead the newscast

Producing the newscast

Producing the newscast3

Pace the newscast

Segment length is estimated by dividing the news hole by the number of segments

Commercial breaks are set around the news flow

A break should not be moved more than a minute from its position

Each segment should be treated like a mini newscast by ending with an uplifting story

Determine the visuals

Decide the visuals to be used with “Anchor Read” stories done live

Producing the newscast

Producing the newscast4

Insert commercial breaks

Commercials are placed where they least interfere with news continuity

AVOID breaking the flow of news or airing a commercial in conflict with the previous story

Working with Traffic and sponsorships & billboards

Assign copy to writers

The producer assigns maximum length to each story being prepared during the day

As line-up is determined and news hole filled, some story formats are changed

Producing the newscast

Producing the newscast5

Script “teases” before commercial breaks

“We’ll have more news in a minute…”

“Tune in as we show you how city council is working to clean our streets”

Use a bumper graphic between news and commercial (or billboard)

Prepare hand-off transitions

No need to “script” transitions from news to sports and weather but good idea to consult with other newscasters about stories so conversation hand-offs appear natural

Producing the newscast

Producing the newscast6

Time the newscast

Front- and back- timing needed so the newscast can end exactly on time

Generally, new anchors are timed in how fast they read copy and that speed is factored into a computer program

Just an estimate for producers putting together a newscast

Front and Back timing still necessary for checking if the newscast will work

Producer blocks the newscast by noting beginning time and adding the exact time of each news item

Anchor speed is factored in for transitions

Pad is left at end for evolving changes

Producing the newscast

Producing the newscast7

Stack the newscast script

Pages of script are physically stacked in consecutive order

Hard copies are still used for back-up if the computer and teleprompter shut down

Assemble visuals in order

Visuals are completed late in the cycle and must be put in order

Proofread and time the final script

Once “actual” times are entered, back-timing is done to identify the last moment an item must begin for everything to be on time

Producing the newscast

Producing the newscast8
Producing the newscast

  • Rehearse, Adjust the newscast

    • Two schools of thought:

      • Rehearsal polishes and builds confidence

      • Rehearsal destroys energy

    • Regardless, need to be prepared

    • Breaking stories / dropping or floating

Producing across technologies4
Producing Across Technologies

  • Media convergence

    • Buzzword in newsrooms

    • More than just producing multimedia stories

    • But now: mobile media, backpack journalists, VJs

      Media convergence is now:

      One news organization producing content for multiple media sources in a variety of media formats

      This has quickly changed

Producing across technologies5
Producing Across Technologies

  • Skills needed in this environment:

    • Strong Writing skills

    • Intuitive Reporting skills

    • Understand writing styles for all media formats

    • Be able to conceptualize visual, audio and text elements needed for a story

    • Poynter, or...

The IFRA Newsplex news center at the University of South Carolina was designed to train journalists in all media to understand the world of convergence.

Other terms
Other terms

  • Crosstalk

  • Live shots / look lives

  • Upcutting / timing the show

  • Cold open

  • Backdoor open

  • Traffic department

  • News Director, EP, Producer, Associate Producers, Assignment Editor

Other discussion
Other Discussion

  • Gatekeeper

  • “Theories of the Press”

    • Social Repsonsibilty -- an obligation to act to benefit society at large. This responsibility can be passive, by avoiding engaging in socially harmful acts, or active, by performing activities that directly advance social goals

    • Libertarian -- News is what happens; short of violating the violent overthrow of the government, everything should be covered

      • PA: Robert “Budd” Dwyer (1987)

  • Authoritarian, Soviet-Communist, Develomental

  • Public Service Journalism ###