Wonderopolis

How do news reporters get a story on TV every night?

Wonder: How do news reporters get a story on TV every night?

Find it Out:

From the early days of Walter Cronkite to today’s era of Anderson Cooper, news reporters are trusted to let people know what is going on in the world. It’s a job where the audience sees the live or recorded news stories and updates on the news and can count on having the latest and greatest information. But how do these reporters go out and get the news to bring into our homes each day?


It all starts with the morning meeting. Early at the start of each day, reporters, producers, and anchors will have a large meeting to plan out the show. These meetings are the times where everyone will pitch a story idea for reporters to be assigned to cover for the day. Producers make the final decisions and create the order that the news stories will be presented in the final show. Once a reporter has their story for the day, it’s off to research and get as much information they can about it. This means making phone calls and setting up interviews with people who are involved and have something to contribute to the story.

Next the fun part begins when the reporters head out to the field to go get their stories. In smaller cities most reporters will not have a photographer to accompany them. This means that the reporter will not only be the one conducting the interviews and appearing on camera, he or she will also be filming everything and editing the story together. This type of reporter is referred to as a “one-man-band” or “multimedia journalist.” Throughout the day, reporters are out finding people to interview and video to film for the story. Once all the video elements have been filmed, the reporter heads back to the studio to write the script for the story. This part is written to explain what is being shown in the video in tell the story. Reporters will record or track the script in an audio booth. Then the last step is editing it all together. The voice track is edited with all the video and interview clips to make a complete story, called a package. This package is usually around one minute and 30 seconds.


Finally it’s time for the news show. The story may require the reporter to appear live to deliver the news on the show, rather than just playing the finished package. In these exciting cases, the reporter will head back out to the scene or interest point to go live, typically bringing a photographer with them to help film themselves. The photographer will drive a large news truck with a satellite connection that makes sure the video feed of the reporter is delivered live to the studio and put on the air. Now the reporter waits for the cue from the anchors to introduce the story, when the news package is played. The reporter wraps up the story with a final word live, sometimes interacting with the anchors to answer any follow up questions, and then signs off from where he or she is. Now that the news show is over, it’s time to start looking for another story to report on for tomorrow!

Try it Out:

Activity #1 – Report your own news story! Go out and find an event or something happening in your community. Find people to talk about it and interview them. Make sure you get video of the event and surroundings to show to your audience. No fancy news camera needed, you can use your phone. Videolicious is a mobile application that can be used to film, edit, and add your voice track and graphics to your finished news story.


Activity #2 – Tour a local news station. Most news stations offer tours of their studio spaces and newsroom. Many cater field trips to host schools and community groups. For example, WSB-TV in Atlanta has a page about visiting on their website for tours featured here. Find a station near you and see if they offer any kind of tours. Grab some friends and go see your favorite news reporters and anchors in action.