What Makes a Good TV Story? Hint: It’s Not The Equipment

header_reporterAs my students go to camps, conferences and competitions, they often notice how much big dollar tech items other schools have.

A few weekends ago, at a conference at Drury University, my students noticed a school that had camera bags that cost more than our video cameras do! However, when it all is said and done, we all know it’s not the stove that makes the gourmet meal. It’s not the chainsaw that creates an eagle from a stump. And, all of us should know, it’s not the price of the camera bag that tells the story.

I recently asked my students to share with me their goals as reporters. Not one of them mentioned any form of technology, high-dollar items, or razzle-dazzle special computer-generated effects. They all mentioned words and phrases like: feel, emotion, everyone has a story, and make a difference.

I think they are on to something and perhaps we could all take a lesson from them in what good video production is. Here are a few of their responses:

  • “When I produce stories, I have several goals. It’s really important to have a story that flows well so it doesn’t confuse the viewers. Good stories need to have strong characters and soundbites so it is memorable. I also want my viewers to feel something when they watch my stories. I want them to laugh, cry, or both. I just want them to feel.”
  • “My goal as a reporter is to tell a story that makes people feel something. I want to move them. I hope that my work will inspire my viewers and show them that everyone has a story to share.”
  • “I want to inspire people to see the world in a new perspective through my stories. Good community-based stories make people glad to live in our area. Good PSAs influence people to live positive lives. If any change or ounce of thankfulness is provoked through my work, that’s a huge accomplishment.”
  • “My main goal as a reporter is to tell stories about subjects that most people wouldn’t think twice about. Everyone has a story that others don’t necessarily know about. I want to tell those unique stories.”
  • “I want people to care about my work. I want people to be inspired and informed. Maybe they will think about something they might not have ever thought about before. I want people to feel something and act upon it. Maybe they will react by making small personal changes, or even big ones!”
  • “I hope I can show people a side of their peers that they have never seen before. I think everyone at WHS has a story to tell and I am interested in telling those stories. I think it’s important to know what the people around you have been through in order to have an understanding of our school as a whole.”​

Michelle Turner

Michelle Turner is an award-winning Broadcast and Photography Instructor at Washington High School in Washington, Missouri. She has advised Blue Jay Journal TV since 1998. Michelle is the 2015 MIPA Missouri High School Journalism Teacher of the Year and the 2016 Journalism Education Association’s National Broadcast Adviser of the Year. As a speaker, author and educator, Michelle encourages students to find meaningful stories and practice ethical journalism while never forgetting to make a connection with their intended audience.

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