Thursday, March 27, 2008

Being Edited

My second story for WEDU's program A Gulf Coast Journal aired tonight. Because my full-time job (for now) means I can't be there when stories are edited, what shows up on TV comes nearly as much of a surprise to me as it does to anyone else watching.

This is new to me. When I reported news, once the producer approved the script, I had a good idea what the story would sound like, at least, because the editor rarely deviated from the script. When I do sports stores for The Dodge Sports Report, a high school show that airs on a statewide cable network here in Florida, I have complete control because I do everything on them myself: I shoot them; I write them; I narrate them and I edit them. There are no surprises.

Here, even after going back and forth through several drafts with the show's senior producer, the script serves only as a rough outline for the editor. The narrative that I painstakingly put together gets taken apart and reassembled after some of the pieces have fallen to the floor.

I'm not complaining. These aren't my stories. I do the legwork and I write what turns into the basic structure for them but I'm just one of the many hands involved in their creation. Someone else shoots them, the senior producer makes changes (euphemistically called "suggestions"), the show's host Jack Perkins narrates them and a different person edits them. If having a more distant influence over stories than I'm accustomed, I try to remember whose stories these are. As I told the senior producer, "the station is paying me. When I pay the station, I can tell it what the stories will look like."

I added that I own a video camera and that if it's that important that I dictate how stories look, I can shoot them myself for my own amusement. Which I have. They served another purpose when I needed material to demonstrate my skills to WEDU.

If not thrilled with how the pieces turn out, I am mollified by the turnaround time for payment once I submit my invoice, which is lightning fast. If the station is happy with the results, so am I. We've shot two more stories and two more are in the planning stages.

When the station posts the current episode online, I'll put it up here. Meantime, here is the episode from last September that includes the first story I produced for the show. It's the one about the radio controlled car racers and it comes about 17:45 into the show. To skip forward to there, press the play button. The running time will display. Then you can move the slider up to any spot in the show and play it from that point.

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