Deadline looming: How to effectively crank out multiple stories.

The idea of cranking out more with less doesn’t seem to be going away.  Turning more than one story, on more than one subject, in more than one city is not easy.  Just keeping the facts straight and providing perspective on multiple stories is challenging.  Then come the relentless deadlines.  Sometimes the packages air 10 minutes or less apart.  One of them, includes a live hit.  Wow, just writing about all that leaves me breathless!

So how do you effectively crank out multiple stories?  Veteran reporters who make these pressures seem like turning a straight vo/sot, say two things:  Organization and time management.  So what does that mean?

  • Think about how you will write the package, while shooting
  • Keep interviews no longer than 5 minutes MAX
  • Log accurate time codes
  • Log and/or write every free minute

First off, think about how you will write your package while you are shooting it.  You want the first part of your package mapped out in your head for two key reasons.  First, it will help you craft a bridge standup that will always fit.  Next, it means you must do enough research before interviewing that you can keep those interviews to 5 minutes maximum.  (You really should try to keep them to about three minutes.)  The reason: the longer your interviews the more you have to log.  (For more on how to keep interviews short read: Developing interview skills on the beat)

Speaking of logging, your time codes need to be accurate.  This is not a courtesy to your photojournalist, this is crucial to make deadline.  It needs to be considered as big a deal as getting your facts straight.  When slamming on deadline, you need to make sure your photojournalist or editor uses exactly what you need, and can easily find it, without having to stop down and ask you.

Finally, every free minute you have should be spent logging and writing.  This means using the view finder of the camera to log if necessary.  I constantly had to battle this idea with reporters.  I’ll log when we get to the live shot location, etc.  Not acceptable!  Log while you are in the car riding.  Log your first story immediately, while driving to your second story.  Log while you are eating lunch, if you get one.  Do not waste a single minute.  You want to get done quickly so you and your photojournalist can take your time when editing.  You want to factor in time for equipment failure too.  You will still get down time, it will just be at the end of your day.