Struggling to find a clever idea for a blog topic, I handed responsibility over to Twitter, asking people for any questions they had about 3 News, the TV industry, or the people I work alongside. The following is the result:
Is Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy a good example of how the TV3 newsroom operates?
Many people believe Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy to be a hilarious comedy starring Will Ferrell. Not true, Anchorman is in fact a documentary, one which captures perfectly the everyday realities of the TV news industry. A framed photo of Ron Burgundy adorns the walls of most TV newsrooms, and nary will a day go by when someone doesn’t quote from his teachings. Furthermore, I always keep a bottle of Sex Panther close to hand, in case my car ever runs low on petrol. Not a fan of tridents, though… too unwieldy.
How would reporting for public service broadcasting affect the stories you chose to report?
Honestly? I don’t think it would. TV3 may be a commercial broadcaster, but the only overriding consideration as to whether we cover a story or not is how easily it translates to TV (see below). Do we have the reach of the BBC, or the resources of ABC? Of course not, but I can honestly say that the work done by TV3 compares bloody favourably to what those enormous public broadcasters produce. We take our role as members of the Fourth Estate extremely seriously, and a good story is a good story, regardless of whether you’re a commercial or a public broadcaster.
I've always wanted to know if the person who answers the newsroom phone ACTUALLY passes on messages!
Well, that all depends on what messages. “Hey, I have a great story for you – give me a yell and we can discuss” – yes. “You are horrible to watch*” - probably not.
*actual message from last Friday.
How does the assignment of stories / interviews work? Josh Heslop seemed so keen to cover One Direction, but Hilary Barry scored that job.
Hilary Barry and Josh Heslop fought a mighty and bloody battle for the coveted role of One Direction reporter. Mrs B eventually claimed victory after trapping Josh in a vicious half-nelson until he tapped out. In other, less severe cases, a story may be assigned to a reporter depending on personal interest to the topic at hand, past form in doing similar/related stories, or just the fact they’re the only ones left in the newsroom.
Actually how far away is the drinks trolley from the studio? And how could you get lost returning from it?
Have you seen the film Labyrinth? That twisted maze is nothing compared to the Escher-esque staircases and shrinking corridors of the TV3 building.
There are nooks and crannies within this building leading to lands yet to be described on any map, let alone any building plan. There are rumours that moose still exist somewhere within the bowels of this building, but no one has ever dared to venture deep enough into it to find them. The drinks trolley is up one flight of stairs – can’t miss it.
How do media students get the opportunity to get involved?
Most of us were students at some point, and a good number of us did work experience at TV3. We try to accommodate students where we can - usually through the various journalism and broadcasting schools. In late 2006 I was finishing up my post-graduate diploma at Massey University with a fortnight's work experience at TV3 in Wellington. A few weeks later, I had a job. If you're lucky enough to get a chance to spend time in the newsroom, be prepared to knuckle down and show a bit of initiative. Both qualities go a long way.
Does John Campbell ever dance off-camera to put Hilary Barry and Mike McRoberts off their game?
John Campbell is possibly the most mischievously annoying person you could ever sit next to. He is like a suit-wearing, six-foot imp. It speaks to the professionalism of Mike McRoberts and Hilary that they pay him scant attention, even when he is standing astride his desk, arms flailing and hips swinging in the style of Elvis Presley singing 'Jailhouse Rock'.
Does the need for visuals often restrict the stories you want to cover?
Hugely. I can’t stress how important this is! Pictures are one of the primary considerations when creating a TV story. We need to not only visually introduce the people in the piece, we need to be able to adequately illustrate all aspects of it. The number one rule for TV news is “write to your pictures”. The fewer pictures available to you and your editor, the harder it is to create a visually compelling story. Something which may work in a newspaper, or on radio, may not be at all suitable for TV. Furthermore, while a quick off-the-cuff quote can be woven relatively easily into a newspaper piece, if people aren’t willing to be interviewed on camera, it can kill your story. Likewise, something which has amazing pictures has less impact on newspaper or radio. Reading about a washout on the Napier-Gisborne railway line or the lack of progress in post-tsunami Japan is one thing, it goes to another level when you SEE it.
When are you going challenge John Campbell for his show? How will you call him out?
I have no intentions of challenging John Campbell for his show, but if it ever happens, it will be done properly.
Is it hard keeping your feelings separate if reporting a story that makes you ragey?
Yeah, it is. We're still human, and like everyone else there are subjects that we find upsetting. Sometimes though, you have to push those feelings to one side even when it’s about a contentious or unsavoury issue. Feeling an attachment to the cause can help – simply because you want to do a really good job of that story, and creating an inaccurate, unfair or unbalanced story would do quite the opposite. Sometimes bald facts can prove the most brutal weapon.
What was the worst case of giggles on-air?
Dunno, but it's sure to involve Hilary Barry.
Why do you stage things like someone reading something or working at a computer before showing an interview?
Again, this comes back to pictures. You often need something to cover a line introducing someone into a story but if there are few pictures available (this could be due to a dry subject, a very tight shooting schedule, or a sparse interview location) you might have to use "set-up" or "overlay" vision. Particularly cheesy set-up is to be avoided, but occasionally there is little option.
What happens when talking about competing channels, ala Mike Hall mentioning
CloseUp your competitor in his weather a while back?
Following his grievous error, ever-jolly 3 News weatherman Mike Hall was lashed to a chair, his eyelids held open in a style reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange and forced to watch an entire week's worth of The Show Which Must Not Be Named.
He hasn't repeated the mistake since.
Thanks to all those who took part. If you have any other questions, feel free to leave them below.