A couple days ago we did a sort of news radio simulation in my Reporting and Writing I class. Basically, our professor gave us different scenarios as we went through our first morning as the “news director for KSHN radio in Dayton, Texas.
First, we had to prepare for our first newscast which was set for 7:00 a.m.
Before going on air, we would need to get stories because doing a newscast without news to talk about is, well, a bit challenging to say the least. So, we had four local contacts: the police department, the sheriff’s office, traffic patrol, and the fire department.
This (figurative) morning, the only newsworthy report was from the traffic patrol office which informed us of a car accident that resulted in one fatality. Unfortunately, by the time we finished gathering the information, we only had 45 seconds before we had to go live on air so, we had 45 seconds, let me repeat that for emphasis, 45 SECONDS, to write out a script to relay the information we had just received.
After that, you’d think we’d get a breather but no, we had to get follow up information in time for the 7:30 a.m. newscast, and then again for 8:00 a.m. With each update the story unfolded. The fatality was the mayor who ran into a tree that also happened to be a landmark. There was also a female passenger who was injured in the accident and sent to the hospital. A few “phone calls” later, we discovered that the passenger was actually the mayor’s daughter, and well, you get the gist of it.
I really like hands on learning opportunities like this and I think it is a really effective teaching method… but I also learned that writing scripts under short (like 45 second long) deadlines is not my strength. I mean, I get overwhelmed with assignments and tests due throughout the semester as it is. To be able to write a whole story and gather enough information to present on air in a matter of minutes is stressful to say the least. One thing I’m definitely learning about this industry is how fast paced it is. There is definitely a reason why there is the word “dead” in “DEADlines.”