One News Outlet Says It WON’T Use Staged Shots Anymore and A Look Back at How Three Guys Helped Avert a Disaster

An article in a British newspaper indicates some British TV news folks will cease to do what’s done on a regular basis by TV news folks: staged shots. The article in The Guardian says one network, in an effort to win back the trust of viewers, won’t use staged shots.  For those not aware of what comprises a staged shot, it’s when the news crew asks the subject to walk down a hallway without looking at the camera, or do something that looks like work or whatever so the videographer can get some cover video for the news piece they’re working on.  It also covers that “cutaway” during a one camera interview where the reporter is either asking a question or is simply looking at the person being interviewed while the camera rolls on the reporter.  Those are all contrived shots and one British network says they aren’t going to use them anymore.

That’s all fine and dandy across the pond but I think TV news, at least on the local level would be hard pressed to do without the staged shots.  The reason: time constraints.  TV news operations have so many holes to fill in newscasts and when they send a crew to a story, they don’t have time to wait around in many cases for something to happen “naturally”.   They need to get the video and go on to the next story.  It’s all about the volume of video and if it takes some coaching by someone on the news crew to get somebody to walk down a hallway a couple of times because the first few times the subject LOOKED at the camera, then by golly, that’s what they will do.  Ask any news crew if they staged a shot and I will bet almost all if not every one of them will say yes.  Yah, in some cases it looks staged but what the heck.  It keeps the producers happy because they got their news hole slot filled which they like, it keeps the desk happy because they got all their stories covered and it makes the news crews happy because they were able to get the story and still have time for lunch.

And an article in the Friday morning Commercial Appeal prompted a flashback for me in news coverage.  It was April 7th, 1994 and I had just returned from a long day of being on the road on a couple of news stories in Starkville, MS.  I had been at the station since around 5am and it was midafternoon and I wanted to go home.  Just as I was preparing to walk out the door, the scanners started going off with something big happening at Memphis International with a Fed-Ex jet.  Producers and the desk looked at me since I was the only reporter still in the building and I was sent to the airport with a live truck to check out the deal.  Long Story Short, a Fed-Ex pilot had attempted to hijack the DC-10 in which he was a passenger and crash it into the Fed-Ex hub/fuel farm at the airport. (I still believe this idea helped inspire the crashes into the World Trade Towers years later).  After attacking the unsuspecting flight crew with a hammer, the badly injured crew was able to wrestle this deranged martial arts expert to the deck of the cockpit and hold him until the  huge and fully fueled and loaded plane could be landed at Memphis.  Landing that plane might not seem like that big of deal but considering the condition of those on board, IMHO it was nothing short of a miracle.  As a pilot, I still marvel at the skill and luck that was in the cockpit that day.

Explore posts in the same categories: Uncategorized

6 Comments on “One News Outlet Says It WON’T Use Staged Shots Anymore and A Look Back at How Three Guys Helped Avert a Disaster”

  1. bob Says:

    Staged shots: It seems to me that the issue is really one of editing and viewer experience. The staged shots are unnecessary to tell the story, but very useful in the editing room and the result is more watchable. E.G., what do you do when the meat is in the soundtrack but there’s no picture to match?

    That said, they aren’t absolutely necessary. Viewers would need to be reconditioned back to a more ad-hoc, “reality” experience, stations could live without the staged shots. If viewers started to expect more truth-in-reporting, they might even appreciate it. The question is, can news viewers be weaned from the production values of a, say, NBC Dateline report? (I’ve seen cases where they clearly edited in special effects scenes from blockbuster movies — without telling you.)

  2. PLDC Says:

    Yeah Joe….

    The FEDEX 705 hijacking was one of those Memphis stories that would make any “top 10” list of anybody who ever worked in the Memphis market and was working that day. I remember it very well too. We heard the “Alert 3” go out on the scanner and were all kinda scratching our heads when we heard about a “hijacking on a FEDEX plane.” With all of the airport runs we had all done over the years, we all thought this was just another false alarm. Boy were we wrong. It actually turned out better for us live jockeys that the plane came in on 36L as we could all get good angles of the plane from the taxi cab parking lot. Fortunately, the airport police didn’t give us any grief either. I’m afraid it that happened again, today’s crews wouldn’t have as the access we did. Of course, as usual, superphotog MS from DOTR was Johnny on the spot and got the earliest vid. Mike had a knack for that around the airport.

    By the way, the National Geographic Channel is reairing an episode of their “Air Emergency” series featuring this story on WEDNESDAY, Sept. 5 @ 5 am (yeah, set the TIVO) This episode was produced in 2005. If anyone wants to read an incredible book on the event, you can get Dave Hirschman’s book “Hijacked” pretty cheap off Amazon. It’s a page turner.

  3. joelarkins Says:

    I did not know that NGeo did a story on that hijacking. Yes I will TIVO it. I have Dave Hirschman’s book and yes, MS was Johnny-on-the-spot with the video. Mike always monitored the scanners and was rarely beaten on breaking news. And speaking of access, while I was doing a live shot from on-top of the live truck at the north end of 36L, a somber looking guy pulled in behind our truck which was pulled over slightly on the shoulder and partially climbed up the ladder where he identified himself as a special agent for the FBI. I figured we were going to be told to move. Instead, he asked if we needed any additional information. Not only did share what he knew, we got him on live for a debriefing! I’ve never had a federal agent be so helpful. Too bad the folks at FedEx weren’t as forthcoming that day and in the days that followed. One other note, I never got this officially confirmed but I was told that the DC-10 which was fully fueled and fully loaded with cargo was put under such a strain during the rolling of the aircraft by the pilot that it wrinkled the fuselage near the tail. Since a jet like that was never meant to do any kind of basic aerobatic maneuver, it was lucky the plane didn’t come apart in the air. Now that is some serious stress on the plane. I attribute the fact that it stayed in the air to the skill of the pilot, a well made aircraft and a whole lot of luck.

  4. ilove3 Says:

    i haven’t heard of the wrinkle….one of the stations in town reported last week that the plane is still in service and flying to this day.

  5. fed boy Says:

    I was there (way in the backround), the airplane is N303FE with no structural damage at all and still flying a very busy schedule every day.

  6. joelarkins Says:

    I stand corrected on the wrinkle in the fuselage. Thanks everybody for wading in on this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: