I’ve become aggravated or distracted by journalists covering local, catastrophic events.
Joplin, Missouri: scene of devastating post-tornado damage and hardship.
I looked up to see an earnest reporter speaking to young adults siblings. Their mother was missing. "What's it like to be without your mother?". "How does it feel to think you may not see her again?"
1- Was he looking for 'powerful video' perhaps? Like tears? Was he intentionally trying to elicit drama for his package?
2- I don't think I’ve ever heard a 'how does it feel?" question that didn't seem trite, lazy or naïve. After my multi-decades of working,, is still marvel how often it's still used in sports. As for all of the other situations that befall mankind- who says the person you're asking has the capacity for the eloquence you're hoping for?
How about interviewing with questions focusing on first-hand accounts.. giving me more b-roll and facts.. letting the story and its multitude of protagonists- linked by good, sparse writing- pull me in?
The Florida Fires
First I thought I'd turned on a sci-fie movie. The video was jaw-dropping: a grey sky.. charred skeletons of trees and former plant life.. and eerie smoke.. suddenly: nah nah nah naaaah… through the mist! A reporter! Walking towards me.. holding something in his hand (a charred piece of wood?) that he never referred to.. He told us how dangerous the air had become. People had to evacuate because of the poor quality. He wasn't visibly carrying a mask and I didn't see one on a strap around his neck. He didn't walk around showing us anything. But: he got his beauty shot!
Lastly: Please note that I did not say 'and finally' because there's yet another news crutch virus hitting many live reporters. Regardless of the story or anchor intro: stricken reporters always start their hits with "And (anchor's name)…". If you find yourself using this segue crutch- I'd advise that you try stopping immediately. How about a good, solid lede line instead? We don't necessarily need to hear the anchor's name at the beginning of your hit. You might just use it with the toss back at the end. After all- aren't you talking to us?
Previously featured on the Radio Television Digital News Association as the News Coach blog series.