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Archive for September, 2010


Friday, September 17th, 2010

What’s in Oslo?

That was the number one question we got when we told friends we were going to Oslo, Norway.  The truth is, we had no idea.  Hubby’s business trip got cancelled, Hurricane Earl disrupted plans, I was looking for a unique place to transfer our trip, and Oslo came up on US Airway‘s website as a featured destination — so we booked it.

Oslo, as it turns out, was awesome.  The Norwegians might have had a plundering, viking past but the modern Scandinavians are incredibly beautiful and hospitable people.  Coincidently, Oslo is the home of the Nobel Peace Prize; it seems they did a 180 degree turn from their time as seafaring conquers.

We were only in Oslo for a long weekend but in that short amount of time we fell in love with the city and its people.  We loved street parking had electric outlets for your cars.  It cracked us up that all taxi cabs were Mercedes Benz.  We felt so simple when we realized that everyone spoke multiple languages.  Everyone seemed proficient in Norsk and English but they also knew German, French or Spanish.  We ate deliciously fresh fish and tried unique fruits like the cloudberry and lingonberry.  The bread came with fresh butter and homemade strawberry jam.  Public transportation was simplistic.  And the Norwegians have a predilection for efficiency; if you pre-purchased your ticket at the kiosk it was 50% cheaper than if you purchased it on the ferry, bus, train, or tram.

We took a ferry tour of the Fjords, saw the famous opera house that rivals Australia’s, visited the Viking Ship Museum, walked thru the Nobel Peace Center, and marveled at the beautiful scenery and architecture.  I also spent a good amount of time shopping for winter boots and coats.

When we returned from our whirlwind trip the why, became why not?  Oslo is this jewel of a city that you might bypass in favor of Stockholm, Sweden.  But reconsider.  We loved Oslo and the thought of being the explorers, the first on the block to say, Oslo was lovely!

“On the Tower” by Norwegian artist: Sondre Lerche

hurricane earl

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Hurricane Earl felt like a hot date that never showed.  I mean I got a new outfit, bought these crazy bands to help me overcome any seasickness I’d encounter during my ferry ride over to Martha’s Vineyard for our big date, and I went to the grocery store for provisions.  I did all that, waited for two days, and instead of showing up, Hurricane Earl had the gall to send his little brother Tropical Storm to meet me on the Vineyard.  To say I was disappointed is an understatement.

I left for the Vineyard on Thursday and after working roughly three days with maybe three hours of sleep, I was finally done with Earl.

The upside, I saw Martha’s Vineyard for the first time.  And when work was done on Saturday, hubby and Cricket came out to meet me on the island.  It turned out to be a great weekend on the Vineyard.

news lingo

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

TV news is like the military when it comes to acronyms.  We love them.  We’re also huge fans of lingo.  Even better, there are often several words to describe the same thing depending on the shop (station).   So in case you were ever curious about what the heck we’re talking about, here’s your secret TV news decoder ring.

A vo (some say vo, others go with v.o.) is a voice over.  It’s when an anchor or reporter is reading a script over video.  A vo/sot is a voice over followed by sound on tape.  An anchor/reporter will read a script over video and then you (the viewer at home) will hear a portion of an interview.  There’s also a pkg which is an abbreviation for package.  It’s a fully edited story.  A reporter/anchor will look at the video, the interviews and write a story.  She (or he) will record her voice, pick the sound bites and the editor will piece it together into a seamless story.  In the field, the photographer is also the editor.

the rundown

Everything that will be in a newscast is displayed on a rundown.  The slug is the name of the story.  The talent line tells everyone (the producers, directors, camera crew, audio person) who’s reading the story.  The format column indicates what type of story it is, whether it’s a vo, vo/sot, or pkg.  The writer is the person who wrote the story.  The story is given a certain length of time it can run.  Usually a vo is :15-:20 seconds.  A vo/sot is :40-:45.  And a pkg is 1:15-1:30 (1:30 is very generous, though special stories can be about 2:30).  The hit time is the point in the newscast when the story will air.  As my first producer told me, we have a window; you have to start and end the show on time, every day, to the second.

assignment desk

The heart of every newsroom is the assignment desk.  That’s where the assignment editors sit.  They are the lifelines for the reporters, photographers, truck operators, producers, and the public.  Assignment editors read all the press releases that come in, listen to all the police and fire scanners, they keep an eye on recurring stories, upcoming court dates, and have a huge file of contacts.  They call to get information on breaking news.  They let the producers know what is going on that day and help them decide how to allocate the crews (reporter/photographer/truck operator) to each story.  Assignment editors prepare reporters with the necessary information for their story, give photographers and truck operations locations of where they need to go and are the conduits between the producers and reporters in the field.  They are amazing multi-taskers!


At 7News we have a working newsroom, which means our newsroom is part of the news set.  You can see the writers’ pod (there’s also the producers’ pod, the executive producers’).  At their desks are computers that also double as viewing stations so they can look at video and interviews.

anchor desk



The news set’s main focus is the anchor desk.  That’s where the anchors usually read their stories.  You’ll also see 7News anchors standing in various positions in the newsroom.  There are also several places where the sports team does its reports and the weather station where the meteorologists present the forecast.  By now you probably know they stand in from of a chroma wall on the news set (that’s either bright green or royal blue) and at home you see the computer generated graphics and animations instead of the chroma wall.  On the news set, there is also a ton of lights and several cameras.  Attached to the cameras are teleprompters so the anchors can look right into the camera lens and see the words they need to read.  We also have a fun jib, which has a camera on one end and a counter weight on the other.  It lets the camera operator capture high shots or smoothly move horizontally or vertically.  Many of the big movements done in the newsroom are done with the use of a jib.  Out on the set with the anchors is the floor director who guides the anchors, telling them which camera they’re on, how long sound bites are, or letting them know when they might need to move to a new position.


control room

But the magic happens in the control room.  That’s where the director runs the show.  He (or she) will look at the newscast that the producer put together and synchronize the execution of camera shots, audio, graphics and video.  During the live newscast, he calls out directions to the technical director on when to take each camera shot, when to bring up each anchor’s or reporter’s microphone and when to go to a reporter.  They’re constantly looking at the preview monitor to see what will be the next thing viewers see.  Next, they’re looking at the on-air monitor to make sure that folks at home are seeing what they’re supposed to be seeing.  The producer helps to ensure what he envisioned is carried out and he’s constantly monitoring the air-time clock to make sure he gets out of the show right on time.


Reporters often put their stories together in the field.  The photographer uses his (or her) video camera and captures video and interviews onto a beta tape (some stations use disks or flash drives).  The reporter reviews the video and interviews and writes a package.  We use a lip mic to record our voice in the field.  The photographer then takes all those components and pieces together our package using the edit decks in the truck.


live trucks

lip mic

When you see us on TV we’re often reporting from a live location.  A live microwave truck or a satellite truck is sending our pictures and sound from the live location back to the station before it’s broadcast to you at home.  The reporter is usually wearing a lavealier microphone, we call it a lav mic.  She’s also has an ifb (interruptible feedback earpiece) in her ear.  This lets the reporter hear the show and the folks back at the station communicate with the reporter.



If you’ve read all this, you’re probably more versed in TV news jargon than any civilian should be but as I write that last line, I realize I didn’t even get to explain what a cg, lower third, ots, and  mix-minus is.  I’ll save that for next time.  (That, in TV news, is called a tease!)