Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Broadcast News

I'm sure we've all been there, still editing a package whilst the programme has started.

Still putting astons/supers in inews/enps as your piece is going out. Hells bloody bells I feel mentally scarred by today's experience.

Excuse me if this begins to read like therapy.

At 1pm I get given a story for TX at 6pm. To be fair, it was a story about Walthamstow and I was already in Walthamstow at the time.

I'd been filming material for LVJ's piece, but then LVJ had to be shifted onto another story after an element we thought we weren't going to get until a later date suddenly presented itself (an interview with BoJo, as it happens).

So muggins here gets to pick up the pieces on LVJ's package, most of which he had already filmed with him in shot, so other than a 3 minute interview with a local councillor we had to start from scratch.

To cut a long story short, we'd done all the filming (school canteen staff serving, kids eating lunch, voxes of kids, head teacher, external gvs, internal gvs, piece to camera, bong (headline in vision shot, not water-cooled inhalation device), fast food shop gvs, fast food shop manager, fast food shop PTC, kebab-eating childrens' voxes) by 3.30pm.

In the process we nearly started a mini-riot with screaming kids all desperate to get on TV. I thought the yout' was too cool to be bothered by that any more. They were all high on chips though.

We got in the car thinking we might be alright for time, but the traffic round Walthamstow was appalling. After half an hour we'd gone half a mile, although it did give me a chance to think about the structure of the piece and write a script.

By 4.07pm, things were looking bleak. I got out of the car with the tapes and called the newsdesk, telling them we were in trouble. I ran through Walthamstow to Walthamstow Central station and caught an overland train scheduled for 1620 - it was 10 minutes late and packed.

Discussing edit options on the phone to a carriage full of nonplussed Londoners was not exactly my idea of fun, but there wasn't much I could do about it. I felt like turning round and saying "This is telly, darling, it's important!", but I resisted. They didn't seem in the mood.

At Highbury and Islington I got off the train and headed onto the Victoria Line to go the one stop to Kings Cross. I nearly got run over trying to flag down a taxi to take me half a mile down Gray's Inn Road to the ITN building.

I ran in at 4.53pm and tried to load the main tape into the ingest point. It jammed and then got crinkled. It was taken out of my hands and someone spooled it off. At this stage getting a package out was looking a tad optimistic, but my spirits were raised when I was assigned Dave, one of the top ITN picture editors to cut the piece with.

As I lay down the voice track, it became apparent that someone had got the tape working again and on to the server. We went at it steadily whilst I picked out a basic shotlist from my tired, stressed and generally addled brain.

At 6.02pm with the programme already on air the package went to the gallery server. I was under the impression we were in the second half of the programme, but we were 3rd item.

It was only as I strolled into the gallery (feeling a little pleased with myself) with the final aston details in my hand I noticed my piece was already on air. The producer alternately hissed and glared at me.

Thankfully we got everything into the aston computer in time and it all went out correctly. For some reason LVJ's piece turned into a SOT/grab, which was due to an unspecified technical problem only alluded to obliquely in the debrief.

The debrief ended and I found myself actually shaking with stress.

The nice newsgathering lady who put me all up to this had left by the end of the show, the prog ed had other things to deal with, the producer was standing with the other producers who were all seething about something else.

I chased after the picture editor who cut my piece as he was walking out the door. "Dave", I gushed, "thank you."

Dave raised his hat and strolled off into the night.

"Aw." said Ted, an old school picture editor who witnessed this touching scene, "Go give him a hug."

I felt so jumpy the only way I managed to calm down was by telling myself how terrible I'd feel if the piece hadn't made, or was broadcast with some glaring error in it.

I was in no fit state to get on my scooter for at least 15 minutes so I shared some random bitching with Glen Goodman, a deeply sardonic and very brilliant reporter.

I told him I hadn't seen his piece, but was certain it was a work of genius. He agreed it probably was.

I got home in one piece and watched the programme properly, and my package was actually quite good. I feel ill. The joy of news.


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