Nothing like hearing this phrase while on deadline: “Be sure and produce it up.” You think: “Sure, I can barely get the stuff I already have on my plate done, why not!”
Actually this is easier than it might seem. “Producing it up” really means taking the information you have and putting it in nice tiny bundles. Think of it as buying a sweater set and matching jewelry as gifts. You wrap the cardigan separately from the tank top underneath. Then you wrap the earrings separately from the necklace. Looking at all those boxes makes it seem like you spent a lot more than you did. It’s all in the packaging.
When you “produce it up” you generally provide a nats/vo or vo/sot set up for the anchors to read that provides an overview in a visual way. Then you focus the package on a particular element of the subject. You save an interesting element for an anchor tag that usually is a question answer between the reporter and the anchors or maybe a vo or vosot for the anchors to read. The point is to make the information you are providing clearer to understand. You also are making the news more appealing to the eye so hopefully the viewer doesn’t daydream or head to the computer to cruise Facebook instead.
The other reason for “producing it up” is to try and showcase the team. It’s showcasing your anchors and reporters as experts that work together to get the most information possible on a subject in a given day. No, you really aren’t usually getting any more information or shooting any more video. This is smoke and mirrors, but it works effectively. While focusing on the elements, you naturally must write more concisely. This helps the ear understand while the visuals make the information appealing for the eyes. Two senses aroused, means less likelihood viewers turn away.
One last benefit to “producing it up”: it makes producers/anchors/reporters and even photojournalists have to talk with each other a little more about the news. This helps prevent fact errors. It’s another level of script approval.
Still confused about “producing it up” and the benefits. Consider the following. When you watch coverage of a major event, like the earthquake in Japan you probably find yourself talking to the television asking questions. Many times the questions you are asking could impact you or other viewers directly. Once again we’re talking about human impact. The first morning of coverage of Japan, I found myself frustrated with all the networks. I had to get online and see people’s stories on You Tube to really understand how to gage the event. I needed to feel it. I needed to know how far the quake was from Tokyo. I needed graphics describing how the Tsunami came over. The networks were too overwhelmed getting information. I had to piecemeal from different stations and Twitter. Producing up some of these elements would have helped me understand the true depth of the losses. Next, I wanted to know what this meant for costs of things from Japan. Would the stock market crash because of this? Answering these stories with graphics, live interviews, special maps and packages are great ways to produce up coverage locally. This is what some stations call the “WIFM” (What’s In It For Me) of coverage. Simply, it is another way to showcase the human element of stories. These are things you want to provide viewers so they don’t turn away from your newscast to jump on the internet for the answers.
The final point, I cannot stress enough is “producing it up” is producer friendly. It makes your job easier. You can visualize your rundown better, you can choose elements like natural sound, sidebars and graphics more easily. It also will help you write succinctly. Simply put, it just makes your newscast look sharp. Fear not. Go ahead, give it a try!