Monday, January 21, 2013

Prescriptions for The Orion: Webcast

This week I'm writing prescriptions for a better Orion. Today: The webcast.

Rx1: Write for TV instead of print
I wrote a little about scriptwriting in Eye on The Orion last semester, and I still think it’s the one single change that would immediately upgrade the daily webscast. Principles to remember:
• Bring the story up to date and tell as much of it as you can in the present tense. If it’s a story about a basketball game that happened the night before, start with “The Wildcat’s women’s basketball squad is celebrating its 10-game winning streak today after last night’s 80-65 win over U-C-L-A.” 
• Keep words and sentences short and simple. Remember that listeners can’t or won’t go back to hear what you just said.
• Be conversational. Instead of writing “
Fisher, a senior construction management major, was taken to Enloe Medical Center after being hit by a Chevrolet truck early in the morning Dec. 8, according to a Chico Police Department press release” write “The Chico State senior was hit by a pickup truck in downtown Chico a month ago and taken to Enloe hospital.”
• Write to pictures, which means shooting more video and writing stories about things that happened on campus or in the community. If you don’t have video, write over still photos. Do the best you can to keep “readers” (an anchor on camera reading copy) to a minimum. It’s OK to start with the camera on the anchor, but then switch to video with or without sound. 

Rx2: Standardize the show format
As much as possible, the webcast should follow the same format every day, just as local and national television news programs do (local programs = quick summary, news, weather, sports, a bright to close). Keeping in mind most visitors will watch the webscast at the beginning of the day (when they get to school or work computers). I’d suggest two or three news stories with video to start, then a sports story or roundup of scores, a longer feature (word of mouth, etc.), the 3-day weather forecast and a bulletin-board- style list of that day’s events.

Rx3: Produce more video features
I know I’m not the only one who looked forward to the Word of Mouth person-on-the-street feature on  Wednesdays last semester. Think about creating a video feature for each day of the week to reward faithful viewers. Some of these could also be posted in the video section of the website after they’ve aired in the webcast. Some suggestions: A sports video roundup (Monday), a feature about a band in town to play a show (Thursday), a feature about an interesting person (Tuesday), a quick tour of a place close by to hike or bike (Friday), etc.

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