Lisa Leko is a producer at WBIR in Knoxville, Tennessee. Last year, the station won an Edward R. Murrow Award for best newscast among stations in small markets. Leko recently took part in an RTDNA-sponsored webinar on what makes a newscast worthy of a Murrow, and we think you’ll find that her six pieces of advice are quite sound.
1. Ditch the checklist. Yes, yes and yes! We get it, many newscasts are formatted to force producers to put specific content, like health news or national news, for example, in specific blocks, but Leko says that can be a mistake.
“Just because you have a template, doesn’t mean you have to stick with it.” Instead, she recommends putting in the most newsworthy stories of the day and suggests that both the audience and the boss will forgive you if the content is good.
2. Anchors off the desk. Leko moves her anchors around in the studio and even puts them outside when its warranted. She says shaking things up a bit can add energy to the presentation and interest for the audience.
3. Let anchors ask Q&A of live reporters. This practice goes in and out of fashion, probably because it has to be done well to work, but Leko says she thinks it helps build anchor credibility.
4. People love lists. Hey, if you’re reading this, it may be true. She says putting content like, “5 Things You Need to Know about Flu” into your newscast makes information memorable and shareable on social media.
5. Improve your graphics. Leko actually simply suggested that you add more graphics because she finds readers “boring.” She goes on to suggest that producers work harder at producing better graphics, and that’s where I think she’s absolutely right.
6. Don’t be afraid to use still images. Leko offered a beautiful example of how a mix of stills and video can drive a story, which you can view it within the presentation linked above. She says the station will routinely use still images on breaking stories, for example, when video may be hard to come by.
Thanks, Lisa Leko!