Log your way to better broadcast writing

The Murrow Award for writing “demonstrates excellence in writing that conveys the feeling and significance of events to the listener or viewer.”  That’s the goal of great storytelling, isn’t it?  To help make the news matter.

Last year’s national winner in the small market category was Jason Lamb of KTUU in Anchorage, AK.  In this first of a two-part post, Lamb shares how he crafts his award-winning stories by spending more time than most with his video.

“It’s important to remember that the goal of any memorable story should be to get information across in a way that makes it easy for people to relate and connect to,” says Lamb.  “Logging your tapes (or your cards or your disks) well is a crucial step in that process.”

For Lamb, “logging” is much more than registering the clip number or time code.

He has three key components to his approach:

1.  Log as much of the video as time allows
Many less experienced reporters say they’re just too time-crunched to spend time logging, but even a few minutes can improve a story.  “There is so much more of the raw footage to log than just the framed up ‘interview shots.’  I log as much as I can: interesting shots that I might want to write to, spontaneous moments with the person I’m interviewing, etc.,” Lamb says.

2.  Log “the moments”
According to Lamb, a “moment” is something captured on camera that helps make people forget they are watching a “news report” and makes them feel closer to the story.  “They help people relate to what your story is about.  It could be the moment that a stem-cell recipient meets his donor for the first time, or a spontaneous reaction to a section of land being eaten away by a raging river.  Moments help drive your story,” says Lamb.

3. Log “the layers”
Lamb says good stories have multiple levels or layers to them that keep the audience engaged throughout.  “A different layer could be an interesting detail or added ‘twist’ you can introduce in your story at just the right moment to keep people interested,” Lamb says.

Check out one of Lamb’s stories below and check back later this week when Lamb shares how he strives to put words and pictures together in the most compelling way.


4 comments for “Log your way to better broadcast writing

  1. August 28, 2011 at 9:14 am

    This story seems to be lacking some context. It never states why the river is flooding. Also, why are they trying to save this house? Who does it belong to?

    I understand this story was probably filed under a tight deadline but there are some big reporting holes.

  2. Deb Wenger
    August 28, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Thanks for reading, watching and commenting!

    As you probably know, TV news stories seldom, if ever, just “appear” on air without an anchor introduction to “set up” the story and provide context. The clip provided doesn’t include that intro. This story may have also been one of several all focused on the same general topic of flooding, so that sometimes allows a reporter to provide less background in his/her story because it’s included elsewhere in the coverage.

    However, your comment raises a good point: If you are producing content for the Web, you have to be aware that the context may be missing, so you might include the anchor intro, include a text set-up or revise the story itself for online posting.

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