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This is what happens when your News Directors get lazy

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Mark Suszko
This is what happens when your News Directors get lazy
on Dec 17, 2013 at 2:20:10 pm

This is one of several such montages Conan runs every so often. What's happening here is that some organization created a VNR package and mass-distributed it free to TV stations, looking to fill their "news hole" on the cheap. They are not all owned by the same company and are not all on the same network, so why are their stories identical?

Because they are lazy and cheap.

Now a good News Director would be leery of using free VNRs that come in over the transom to start with, but if the accompanying B-roll or interviews are compelling, he or she could make the case that it's of interest to the audience. Then the first thing they would usually do (SHOULD do) is assign a reporter or editor to take the VNR elements apart, and re-configure them to customize the story. And they would NOT run the supplied "serving suggestion" script as-is; they'd at the very least have it re-written.

I tell my VNR clients this all the time: in a competitive TV market, you do NOT want identical stories popping up on 2 or more stations; it's like two women coming to a cocktail party in the same dress. Only worse; because the women only share a similar taste in clothing, nothing to be ashamed of. News directors running the same, identical piece without any customization are just cheap and lazy.

If you make a VNR package, resist the temptation to tightly polish a finished edited 90-second story. Only the hack stations will use it as-is, but the vast majority of better operations will toss it in the trash.

Instead, build a "construction kit" of b-roll, interview takes, and alternate angles, with plenty of "handles" on the ends of the clips, and this makes it easier for a news editor to customize the pieces and make his or her station's version more unique. You still control the overall message, by the choices of footage and quotes you supply, but to get the most stations to use a package like this, and thus get your message OUT, you need to give up rigid control and offer multiple choices of the same ideas.

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Shane Ross
Re: This is what happens when your News Directors get lazy
on Dec 30, 2013 at 9:56:17 am

OK, I admit it. I bought an item or two...or ten...for myself.

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Mike Cohen
Re: This is what happens when your News Directors get lazy
on Jan 4, 2014 at 1:14:37 am

Must have been a really slow news day.
One time in college, during an internship, we covered a speech by the Governor about health care. We were working for a drug company. We then cut a VNR. My job as intern was to dupe BetaSP copies then drive around dropping them off to assignment desks before the 5pm news in the hopes that one or more of these stations were having a slow news day, or perhaps they forgot to send their own reporter to the event. Of course the particular spin on the package was focused on a CEO's reaction to the Governor. I never did find out if any of the stations aired it. I suspect not.

Funny stuff. I bet these anchors all feel a little used.

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