A newsroom is an exciting place. Everything from the anchor desk to board operations can be intriguing, and sometimes intimidating.
For many new to the industry, it isn’t the studio that holds the biggest unknown, it’s the world. Reporters are the heartbeat of the newsroom. They are the eyes and ears of a station. A great reporter doesn’t just follow the instruction of their producer, they dig into a subject and engage full on. The camera rolling is just the icing on the cake. There are many layers to a great and successful reporter.
Compassion is not just a learned trait, it comes from the heart. When dealing with topics, especially tragedies, it is best to be a human first, and a reporter later. The more comfortable a person is in your presence, the more open an interviewee may be to answering tough questions. When first approaching someone don’t wave a notebook and pen in your hand. Put the recording device away, and speak to them on a personal level first. The person will appreciate this. Good rapport will shine through on camera. Make sure to clearly explain when and where the story will air (if your know) to those interviewed. It is common courtesy that can go a long way.
KEEP UP WITH THE BEAT
Being a beat reporter can sometimes mean covering a topic or issue you may not particularly enjoy. That’s the best part! Find something new and exciting about your beat that hasn’t been done before. Do more than just interview the main subjects, talk to everyone. The more you dig, the more information you’re likely to receive. Get to know the main players, and build up your contacts. You never know when that random lead could turn into a huge story. Remember to follow up as well. Things are likely to change. One day that star player may choose to not do an interview, but the next day their mind can change.
Talking to people out in the field can be exciting and can have a lot of benefits, but it also has its downfalls. It is important to listen to every detail and every fact. If you think you’ve stumbled onto a great lead, double check. Smart phones have made life much easier in this department, but if you can’t check online, always make sure your source is accurate. Don’t be afraid to ask the same question twice. If the information seems sketchy, it may just be wrong. Repeat information out loud, if it sounds funny when you say it, don’t repeat it.
Alright you have double checked your facts. Your sources have been accurate and helpful. Now it’s time to report. Regardless of how long your story needs to be, visualize it. Make sure that the words you are about to say paint a story. Remember you are the viewers eyes and ears on the ground. A reporter must showcase their story in a compelling manner. If you're reporting on a new bakery, your audience should be able to imagine the smell of cookies. If there is a 5 alarm fire in the heart of the city, your audience should be able to feel the heartbreak of those displaced families. Read your story out loud a few times. If you aren’t interested in the topic, your viewers won’t be either.
Mandee Gabriel is a broadcasting professional in the Chicagoland area. As the daughter of a radio talent, Mandee Gabriel has always found love for the broadcasting industry. An award winning graduate from the Illinois Center for Broadcasting, Gabriel ran the internet radio show The Social Bunny before interning at Digity Radio group. From there she found her true passion, television. Gabriel began writing and anchoring for WHDT in 2014, where she is now happy to call her home.