My Version of a Great Feature Package

As I was getting ready to leave my shift last night one of the producers turned to one of our reporters and told him great job on his package. The reporter had found out about a couple who decided to have a “Harley-Davidson wedding”. Their ceremony was held in the Mid America Harley Davidson showcase room…and my guess is they rode off into the sunset with their motorcycle too.

I very much enjoyed the package so I decided to throw my two cents in.

How did I know it was a great (feature, we're talking about features here) package? As a web editor, the best way I can sum it up is… a good package is hard to edit for the web. Like I actually have to do some work (shock!) to make the story comprehensible to our readers. It’s my job to piece together the sentences and make them readable on the computer screen. You'd be surprised how many packages I've edited that haven't been hard hit news stories that were so simple to edit because the reporter basically told the watcher everything and just laid video over it.

We’ve been taught in broadcast to make sentences short and simple, breaking up facts so listeners and watchers can take in the information piece by piece.

In print or web, pieces are much more extensive. More than just one fact is compiled and put into a sentence. You don’t really need to break up sentences for the reader because if they are confused they can just go back. Commas are frequently used, as well as things like participles.

So what do I mean it’s hard for a web person to edit it?

Sentences aren’t complete because the video is doing the story telling. Soundbites or SOTS rather may not be a complete sentence either because it’s advancing the story or just adding to the story. A SOT might make sense in a broadcast story, but on the web the quote is confusing for readers.

This is why I love broadcast journalism. The ability that we have to evoke emotion with video is powerful.

A good story written down on paper describes facial expressions, describes an environment, it draws emotion from the reader. But broadcast journalists must use video to do this. Tears, smiles, anger. It’s all there for us to capture. (As you might guess, I’m a huge fan of natural sound/ambient sound as well.)

I guess I can finally deem myself a web nerd when I start relating everything to the web. Oh sigh.

The other way we know it was a great package? CNN called to put it on pathfire and then aired it. Zing!

Be sure to check out Kevin’s story: Click on me and then watch the video on the right!


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