Teaching News Production at your school may be called a number of things, Broadcast Journalism, TV/Video production, Digital Media Arts, Communication Arts, Visual Arts, Video Journalism, Multimedia Arts and many others.
News production (in any name) is a team based effort and, as an educator, you need to find appropriate tools to meet both your production requirements and your instructional needs
Whether your school produces a daily video announcements show or a weekly/monthly newscast production, you must plan your show, gather appropriate news information, produce the show, broadcast or record it and then archive it in some form. Those five steps (planning, gathering, scriptwriting & video editing, the actual production & archiving) define your workflow and are most effectively and efficiently executed and coordinated in the EZNews software (Windows and/or Mac).
Before you start producing your daily or weekly news programs, you should first establish some structure for your programs in the form of a show template. The show template is a plan in that determines the planned (or fixed) total running time and a general outline for the show’s running order.
Setting a goal to produce your news program with a planned (or fixed) total running time is one of the very best ways to ensure that your students are getting some true real world experience in your classroom. Candidly, it is also one of the most poorly implemented instructional goals in news production classes throughout the country. Using EZNews software will help you to achieve this important instructional goal for you and your students.
Your show template should include only the consistent repeating scripted elements and the technical production elements that occur during each of your news programs.
Scripted elements to be included in your template would likely include your introduction/welcome script such as one listed below
Technical production elements to be included in your show template will likely include
Cues to roll video, on camera cues for your news anchor or production cues for other positions such as your character generator (CG) operator.
Technical elements such as the ones listed above should be first planned in EZNews and then executed via commonly used all-in-one production solutions such as the NewTek TriCaster and BroadcastPix or stand-alone production devices character generators form such as Compix or Chyron brand character generators
EZNews also offers an optional Character Generator Interface feature which will first export planned titling/graphics information from the EZNews software to the CG itself and then auto-build a complete ready-to-air playlist for your CG operator, thus reducing spelling errors and eliminating time wasting redundancies such as having to retype data and build each keyed graphic one by one. This optional EZNews interface feature is available to communicate with Character Generator solutions from Compix, Chyron, Deko, Inscriber, NewTek’s Live Text, BroadcastPix and others. Contact EZNews directly for more information regarding the EZNews software and these optional interface features.
During the Planning Stage, topics/events/stories that you expect to cover for your news program will first appear in the calendar based Assignments area of your EZNews software which as available to all users to review. Here, you may assign a story title (slug), assign which specific student reporter or student team will cover this story, assign any additional crew such as your camera operator (Photog), assign the equipment (camera #, gear pack etc.) which will used to cover the cover the event, name the time and location where the newsworthy event is scheduled to occur, name the contact information for the even and any additional background notes regarding the story such as websites and any press releases. The target total run time for each assigned story is often assigned here as well as the desired story format. Commonly assigned format options include the on-camera reader (RDR), a Voice-Over (VO), a combination Voice-Over/Sound-on-Tape (VO/SOT) or a complete news Package (PKG). Here you may also assign your all important story deadline date & time. Unlike a commercial news station, your students are not professionally trained journalists and only have a very limited about of time to cover their stories (likely just during your class time and before/after school), so giving them more direction and a hard deadline will help eliminate any unwanted surprises.
During the Gathering Stage, planned stories from the EZNews Assignments desk are covered. As assigned stories are being covered, video footage is taken, reporters make their notes regarding the event and interview appropriate subjects regarding the story that actually participated in the event, witnessed the event or are experts on the subject matter of the story. For example, you may assign a student or student team to cover next weekend’s football game. Your reporter and crew will attend the game, get some highlight footage of the game and maybe the student fan section and cheerleaders. After the game, your reporter and crew may interview the head football coach, interview one or two of that game’s standout players and interview some enthusiastic or well informed fans.
Script Writing & Video Editing
From the EZNews Assignment desk, story slugs are created directly from the Assignments area and sent to your show rundown, scripts are written for the on camera anchors and video footage properly edited properly to match the assigned format for each story. This is the exact time where everyone needs to be on the same page and have access to shared real time information in a network application like EZNews and be able to work on their on portion of the newscast in the most effective and efficient way possible.
The EZNews software’s script editor allows you to efficiently write each script for air by automatically calculating for you, as you type it, the specific anchor’s estimated reading time for that particular script. The EZNews script editor also allows you to input specific production cues and instructions such as roll in video x at this exact point in the script or key this specific CG graphic title now while video x is rolling. As scripts are written within EZNews, the writer needs to be able to access video information so they can write to the video. For example, as b-roll footage for a VO becomes available, the writer needs to write a script that is both germane to the footage and takes as long to read as the selected b-roll footage takes to air. As video edits are complete and scripts are finalized, EZNews can report live to everyone that scripts have final approval for the show. Equally as important, EZNews rundown automatically calculates the exact running time of each script element to a second, so that you may accurately see the total runtime of your show as written and make last minute edits/changes to existing stories. If necessary, you can add a new story at the last minute or remove/kill/delete a story from your news program. Again, this is an extremely valuable EZNews feature and as you plan to achieve the important instructional goal of producing your new program to planned (fixed) total run time.
Part 2 of this Newscast Workflow article will appear in the November issue of the School Video News. In Part 2, you will learn how all approved elements from the pre-production planning, gathering, script writing and video editing are all executed from the EZNews Software during a live, a “like live” or a recorded live news program. You’ll learn how each member of the live production team interacts with EZNews, how their role is defined by EZNews. You’ll learn how the producer and director use EZNews to approve elements, ready the show for air and execute the production. Finally, you’ll learn how shows are archived within the EZNews software and how show content archived within EZNews may queried and researched at a later time for future productions.
Because EZNews for Windows and/or Mac will be your front-end software application for the planning, production, broadcast and archiving of your news programs and the software you will use to teach broadcast script writing, teleprompter control, graphics/title/CG planning and many other news production functions, we will also discuss a variety of complimentary technology topics in Part 2 such as choosing the appropriate teleprompter hardware solutions, choosing appropriate character generator solutions and other items.
As a member of The EZNews Team, Matt Peschau works closely with commercial & public broadcasters, cable operators and broadcast educators throughout the US, Canada, Latin America & the Caribbean to provide and fully implement EZNews Software and complimentary technology solutions that facilitate the planning & production of newscasts and other TV/Video productions.
In addition to his role on The EZNews Team, Matt facilitates & judges a number of student newscast and video production contests throughout the year.