If I could get back all the moments of my life where I was subjected–in the form of memo, meeting, weekend workshop or direct manager’s instruction–to drill instructor style mandates to do walk-and-talk, active, demonstration, or “live and lively” standups, well, I’d be 26 years old today.
The amount of time local newsers spend obsessing over liveshots and standups (the theatrics, not the content) at the expense of, oh I don’t know, THE NEWS…well it’s nuts. I could go into extreme detail about the reporter/producer discussions I’ve had, but I’ll spare you the pain and the cliche of it all. Suffice to say, there’s hope. If you or a loved one suffers from local news standup fatigue, ask your doctor if THE INTERNET may be right for you.
Richard Koci Hernandez says rejoice! The end of the road for the silly standup is at hand! Hernandez, a Ford Foundation Multimedia Fellow at UC Berkeley says the standup doesn’t translate to the evolving style of storytelling on the web. “I think it doesn’t work in the form that we are presenting it, which is another kind of stereotype that I’ve noticed. This kind of voice-of-God, that ‘we have the answer, and here is the report, and I’m objective.'”
Hernandez urges reporters who migrate online to leave some of the “this is just the way we do it” local news stuff back in the microwave truck. He argues that the online form allows for a wider range of storytelling forms, including film-style documentary reports without any reporter track, to simply letting interesting people talk on camera for more than eight seconds.
“So essentially what I’m saying is: Don’t adopt something; try something new. I really think that we do have an opportunity to create a new form of what we might call web journalism, or storytelling for the web, that incorporates cinema, of course broadcast, and many different kinds of things. So it’s not so much to say that to beat up on — but every time we tried a standup, a traditional standup, it just never got the attention.”
So listen up, local news reporters! Go to the closet or the trunk of your car where you keep your standard standup props and have a final look. Go ahead and dip that ruler in the snow one more time for good measure (hey! a pun!); grab those hip waders and think of all the overflowing rivers you’ve stood in to show us that the flood is actually, uh, a flood. Dig out that wind speed indicator, your hard hat, your oversized thermometer for sitting in those hot cars in mall parking lots and the rope you used to tie yourself to the hotel balcony during Hurricane Floyd. I’m not saying you have to throw them all away right now. This is an emotional process of release. I just want you to begin the process. Just open yourself up to the IDEA of letting go. It’s okay. You’ll be safe.
We’re here for you. (We’re watching news online–just hit us up on Twitter when you need to talk)