News production and presenting

Most of us take the news for granted when we sit and watch it on TV but this week Amy and Ella were privileged to go behind the scenes to watch the making of the News at Six on Wednesday 5th November. This was very much based on location, BBC Broadcasting House to be exact, and all the staff and technicalities that it had to offer. We arrived half an hour before the programme was due on air and were greeted by Fiona Bruce.

After a tour of the news studio and the workings within it, we were escorted to the gallery, where we met the director, editor, auto-cue controller, camera controller and a few others. This was impressive. We were able to discuss and ask questions to a range of different people involved in the making of the news programme. We spent about an hour and a half in the company of Fiona Bruce and the wonderful team of professionals at the BBC.

Lessons Learned:

  • Newsreaders write their own script. They need to be able to summarise the key points into a headline which they then expand on later on in the programme.
  • A newsreader has the text presented to them on an autocue, which is scrolled through by someone in the gallery. The speed of the text is approximately 2 words per second. Words sometimes need to get deleted for timing adjustments.
  • Newsreaders have to be able to communicate with the gallery and vice versa so wear an ear piece throughout the programme. This appears very distracting but is something they get used to. Fiona compared it to someone talking to you whilst you’re speaking to someone else on the telephone.
  • Timing is crucial. If a report over or under runs it impacts on the rest of the programme. The newsreader, weather person or other reporters have to extend or shorten their reports accordingly. This sometimes means whole reports are not shown due to time restrictions. The programme has to fit into an allocated amount of time otherwise it impacts on the rest of the TV schedule.
  • Everyone must work as a team (and remain calm). The director cues in when the newsreader / reporter will be on air or when a VT (slang term for video tape / digital report) is about to be played.
  • The team meet when off air to review the programme’s successes and any issues that arose. This gives everyone the chance to reflect on personal contributions made to the programme.

Spending time with Fiona Bruce at Broadcasting House was an amazing learning experience for Amy and Ella – they loved it and left more knowledgeable and inspired. Next time they watch the news or a similar programme they will have a better insight into the work involved.