When you’re just starting out as a TV journalist, one of the hardest things to do when you’re on assignment is to strike out on your own. If you hang around with the other reporters, the thinking goes, you’ll learn from what they do and you won’t miss the big story. Or will you?
Matt Mrozinski, chief photojournalist at WTHR-TV in Indianapolis, says breaking free of the “gaggle” can be the best way to find the real story. On one assignment, for example, while everyone else waited by a command post Mrozinski says he was out with volunteers looking for a missing child. I imagine he got much better video and sound than his competitors.
If you just can’t pull away, Mrozinsky writes on his TV News Storytellers site, at least take time to look around.
The next time you’re at a crime scene, take a look at the cameras that line the yellow tape and rarely ever leave. If they would just glance over their shoulder, the story is behind them. People are waiting to model your wireless lav and are glimmering with reactions and moments.
When I share similar advice with journalists, I urge them to “do a 360″–turn all the way around to make sure they’re not missing something better than what they’re getting. You’d be surprised how often that simple technique turns up something unexpected and memorable.
Here’s an example. Reporter Brahm Resnik of KPNX-TV in Phoenix was covering a news conference on the results of a court case blocking the state’s governor from denying driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. Instead of focusing only on the podium, he turned his attention to the audience.
“I saw several people crying. I pulled one of the gals outside and she again couldn’t stop crying, she was so happy, thrilled that it had happened,” he told BusinessJournalism.org. Talk to people one-on-one, he says, and you’ll get a better story.
You don’t want the sound of a somebody standing at a podium, you want to talk to people away from that….At news conferences, always, always be observant for the person you think would be a great one-on-one. Otherwise they’re just performers; they’re reading from a script.
Try it, and see if you don’t agree.