One More Reason to Move Local News to the Web: No More Inane Reporter Standups

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.

Run, Reporters!  He Wants to Take Your Clever 2-Part Standups Away!

Run, Reporters! He Wants to Take Away Your Clever 2-Part Standups!

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.

Yeah, Right! Like Anyone Would Understand a Flood Story if the Reporter Wasn't Wearing Waders

“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)



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3 responses to “One More Reason to Move Local News to the Web: No More Inane Reporter Standups

  1. Eileen

    I think every news director needs to read this!!! Right after they fire the useless consultants who tell us what to do after NEVER having spent a day in their lives in the field.

  2. Don’t worry. The time you no longer have to spend worrying about your standup is time you have to spend shooting your own story.

    That presumes that Hernandez’ premise about standups becomes part of the form. I’m not sure about that, except for the logistical difficulty of thinking of what to say on camera while operating the camera. Hernandez himself admits that his view is just an opinion.

    People like to be able to match a face with the voice telling them the story. The web doesn’t change that. It also doesn’t change the fact that there are parts of stories best told “face-to-face” with a viewer.

    I actually report video stories for the web for one of my freelance clients. I’m learning that the standups I did for the TV screen might not work because the video window for a web story is much smaller. People can’t match a face to my voice if they can’t see my face.

    The intimacy of Internet video means you need to shoot faces closer up, including that of a reporter in a standup. (You actually need a lot more tight shots in your b-roll, too.)

    Shooting my own work frees me from the obligation to do a standup for a standup’s sake and it ranks below getting the video I need on the priority list. But I think they’ll have a value in video storytelling regardless of the delivery platform.

  3. Pingback: Dispatch from the Frontlines: VidSF Co-Creator Steve Cochrane « standupkid’s localtvnews

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