I’m of the belief that planning makes stories stronger, and I often talk about planning as the step that comes between reporting and writing that is too often skipped. An outline like the one on the left–just a few words jotted down in a notebook–helps me stay on track. The longer the story I’m writing, the more detailed the outline. I’ll make a note of soundbites and specific nat sound I definitely want to use and put all the elements in order before I write. But outlining before writing is certainly not the only time planning comes into play in television news.
Planning means everything from setting up interviews to selecting the right gear for a particular shoot. For Steve Noviello, consumer reporter for KDFW in Dallas, it means thinking about what he’d like the story to look like on the air and sharing his ideas with the photographer he’s working with.
At a recent journalism workshop sponsored by the Texas Association of Broadcasters, Noviello shared a couple of stories that benefited from careful planning. For a story about a woman who’s a champ at saving money by coupon-clipping, Noviello wanted to use quick edits and speeded up video to reflect the woman’s frantic pace. “We needed twice as much B-roll as normal because we were going to double speed it,” he says. For a story about a late-night designated-driver service, Noviello knew he’d need video shot from a moving car. Planning ahead allowed him to use a colleague’s convertible, not a news vehicle. The story won a National Headliner Award for best TV feature.
Noviello started in the news business 13 years ago as a one-man-band, which he says taught him the greatest lessons he’s ever learned. What would those be? Watch our interview, in which he also talks more about his approach to planning: