The lead story can make or break a newscast. It is what can draw the audience into your newscast, or drive them away. A lead story should be impactful and of interest to the audience, and it should have a sense of immediacy. I was lead producer this week, so I played a large part in crafting the lead story. Going into the day, I knew that the heat wave and the Dodgers (and, combined, the World Series heat record) were going to be Tuesday’s driving stories. Although the heat wave impacted the majority of our audience, I decided to start off the show with our reporter at Dodger stadium because the first game of the World Series was very exciting for the city. It was the first time the Dodgers had played in the World Series since 1988, and Los Angeles was buzzing. Many students are lifelong Dodgers fans and have never seen their team play in a World Series. I wanted to capture this city wide excitement in the lead story. I planned to follow the World Series stories with the heat stories, using the World Series heat record story as a segue.
I challenged myself to be more creative and take more risks while building this week’s show. Although not everything worked out, I learned a lot about how to craft a lead story with as many interesting angles and elements as possible. We decided early in the day to send our reporter, Dan, to Dodger stadium, assuming he could do a live shot from somewhere outside of the stadium during the game. One of our morning multimedia journalists (MJ) knew another student going to the game and interviewed him. Another MJ interviewed a student from Houston who was an Astros fan. I wanted the live shot to be as dynamic as possible so I added these elements into the reporter’s live segment, along with a voice over (VO) of photos that we would get from our sports anchor, Pete, who was going to the game that night. With live shots, it is imperative to have a backup plan to prepare for all the things that can go wrong, so I also added backup scripts for our anchor Brittany to read if Dan’s live shot failed. As the show approached, it became more and more clear that we may have to resort to the backup plan since Dan wasn’t able to get close to the stadium and did not have a good signal for the TVU live shot equipment. Luckily, we were able to add in a live phone hit with Dan, and I was able to float and unfloat the necessary lines and communicate with the directors in order to get the lead story on air.
After the live shot, we built on the lead story with stories about the World Series and businesses in LA, reactions to the game on social media, and the record-breaking heat (and how it would affect fans and players). Each of these angles provided the audience with more interesting angles to such an exciting story.
I hope that I can learn from my mistakes on Tuesday, including not thinking through the backup phone interview with Dan until very late in the run throughs, in order to build more dynamic lead stories.