KCRA Olivia Morgan Graduates
Saturday at KCRA, my end of the week.
After quickly shooting a story on an auction of California state government surplus i was given printouts for three addition stories for me to shoot quickly throughout the day for use as VO-SOTs (Voice Over-Sound On Tape) — short stories for the anchors to read over. The first story on the list was a college graduation at Memorial Auditorium in downtown Sacramento.
The main thrust of the story was Olivia Morgan, a 74 year-old woman graduating after going back to college to get a degree in order to get a part-time teaching job to supplement her social security. Olivia took her classes through Brandman University, a non-profit school for adults to get additional education to improve their careers. Students can attend classes in 26 campus locations across California, as well as online.
Once I started talking to Olivia in the interview I knew this was a good story that could easily be expanded into a full reporter package. I always try to shoot a few extra interviews so that, if a newscast is running light (meaning that it could use another longer story or two) the :30 VO-SOT that I wa sent out on could be expanded into a full 1:25-1:25 package.
Olivia was a delight, as were her three sons who were there to support her. It also should be mentioned that the people with Brandman University were outstanding to deal with.
When I finished shooting and got back to the truck I checked in with the assignment desk to let them know what I got, how good the story was and that I shot extra in case they needed an “anchor pack” — a package that is written and/or tracked by one of the news anchors.
As it turned out, we had a full 90-minute newscast this Saturday from 5 to 6:30 P.M. Due to the Derby we didn’t have NBC Nightly News to run from 5:30 to 6.
The assignment desk responded, “Yes, we could use another package. We need you to come back and edit the story you shot earlier with Richard Sharp and we also have a package that Chris Riva is putting together that we need you to edit. Oh, and could you write up one of your reporter packages of the graduate story?”
So it was going on one, I had three packages to put together, one of which I had to do everything on. My answer: “Yeah, I can do that.”
First I put together Richard Sharp’s package, which turned out very nice, lots of fun, quick editing. Then I settled in on the Olivia Morgan story. Olivia and her son Scott Morgan both said so many great things that it was going to be simple — just pick out the best sound and for me to write as little as I needed in order to connect the dots.
I’m a very big believer in wanting to hear what people say in a news story and to keep the writing to a minimum. People are always more interesting. Also, the more people sound (“sound bites”) you have in a story, the less you have to write. This means that you can focus on making the writing simpler, but also more direct and precise.
Working on the weekends it’s important to be able to do your work quickly and efficiently. Weekend staffs are smaller. This makes sense because so many more stories happen during the week when more offices and agencies are working. At any moment breaking news could happen that could require me to break away and go to cover that story, so I wanted to get Olivia’s story written and edited as quickly — and as good — as I could so that her story would be included in the newscast should I have to be broken away.
As it turned out, nothing came up and I was able to devote the rest of the day to writing and editing. All the stories were not only done on-time, but were finished early.
Olivia Morgan’s story ran in the KCRA 6 O’Clock news. I hope Olivia and her family are happy with it.
This story was done using all the steps and work practices that I detail in my book Breaking Into TV News – How To Get A Job & Excel As A TV News Reporter-Photographer.