NBC affiliate, San Diego
The Telegraph – London
Take a look at the two newsrooms above.
One is from the NBC affiliate in San Diego. The other is the newsroom for the Daily Telegraph in London.
Both highly respected newsgathering organizations.
Notice a difference?
In the lower picture, from The Telegraph, every single work station has a computer with word processing software on it. So every work station is a place at which the content of the paper for that day is manufactured.
In the upper picture, every single work station also has a computer with word processing software on it. Alas, television news does not deliver text. It delivers video. So effectively none of the workstations in the San Diego newsroom are creating content for that day’s broadcast. If you look far in the back on the left you will see a small edit room. That is where the content is being created.
In the days when editing was complicated and required massive rooms filled with equipment, decks, timebase correctors and i-squares, this made sense. It was, in fact, the only way to manufacture video content for air.
In an era in which simple software on almost any laptop can deliver broadcast quality editing that anyone can do, this is an insane way to work.
Yet we still do.
Almost every local TV news operation in the world (and most networks) start their day with a morning meeting where the day’s newspapers are spread over the conference table. The paper’s stories are parsed carefully for stories that the TV news folks can cover. What we don’t garner from the newspaper’s we fill in with press releases and planned events.
The daily newspapers are not some secret research document that only the TV station has access to. Everyone in town has also read it. So when the ‘evening news’ comes on at 5 or 6, it is filled with day old stories. We might as well call it the evening old.
TV steals from newspapers because newspapers are faster and more nimble.
No newspaper editor sits and watches the local news on TV and then assigns those stories to his reporters.
The two photos above tell the whole story rather eloquently.
In the TV newsroom, we are busy making ‘a show’.
In the newspaper newsroom, we are busy reporting the news.
TV newsrooms can run as efficiently as newspaper newsrooms- and do as well. But it means rethinking how the TV newsroom looks and operates.
As everyone in a newspaper is print literate – that is, capable of sitting down at a computer and banging out a story, so too must everyone in a tv newsroom.
As everyone in a newspaper newsroom has access to a machine to create content for the paper, so too must every desk in a TV newsroom have a computer with video editing software.. and a camera available for use. These are the tools for creating content and they are cheap and easy to use.
Go to your newsroom now and nail closed the edit rooms, and never open them again.