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Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Generation J Toolbox

Accuracy and the MPJ Hourglass

By Jacqueline A. Ingles

Make beat calls. Pitch three solid stories. Call and set up interviews. Wait for people to call you back to confirm interviews. Drive yourself to interviews. Pick up, carry and set up your own equipment.

Take still photographs that represent your story on the Web. Touch base with your producers to discuss story elements. Turn the camera on yourself and do a demonstrative stand-up. Jump back in the car.

Drive to your next interview. Shoot all your b-roll. Download all of your clips into your laptop. Write your broadcast script. Wait for your script to get approved. Voice your package. Edit your package. Feed or FTP your package in. Add details to your Web script.

Exhausted yet? Well, it’s only 3 p.m. and your day is not over, especially if you are going live in multiple shows! Welcome to the world of multi-platform TV reporting. You will notice that neither lunch nor a break is not mentioned in the crazy mix of things. Prepare to graze or go without.

The list of things multi-platform journalists (MPJ) and one-woman-bands like myself must do in a day is endless. Still, there is something that should never be lost within the list of things to do: accuracy.

As media platforms diversify and the demands pile up, those who choose to take on the role of multi-platform deadline reporting must take on the added responsibility of upholding accuracy — a journalism hallmark.

Not only do I have to present fair and accurate pieces on air, my online pieces must be as clean and grammatically precise as a newspaper writer’s article. I have been called out many times by readers for placing a period where there should be a semicolon. It may not seem like a big deal, but viewers and readers do not know you are juggling eight balls in the air. You also took on the job of juggling those balls, so do it right. They expect quality out of their journalists, and it is your job to deliver.

Here is a list of MPJ Do’s and Don’ts to help you stay on-point:

DO

• Write your online script, walk away for 10 minutes, come back and re-read what you wrote before hitting PUBLISH.

• Have more than one person look over your broadcast script for accuracy and conversational tone.

• Develop a work flow over time that allows you to meet deadlines while letting you be creative, clear and thorough.

• Double-check facts. Call sources to double confirm information.

• Call your superiors if you need more time to get your story ready. Never rush to the Web or to air.

DON’T

• Steal natural sound from one piece of b-roll and place it under other video. This is unethical, and you are lying to your viewer. Believe me, we all want those great natural sound pops, but only if they are really there.

• Walk out the door without a plan. Know where you have to go and manage time wisely.

• Blame all you have to do in a day for errors online or on TV. You took on this job and you must make it work.

• Think reporting is about you. If you have to sacrifice looking good on TV for a better story, drop the makeup and hair curler and get to work.

• Depend on spell check. It’s not always a given that software will catch improper use of “there” or “their.”

Jacqueline Ingles is a multi-platform one-woman band reporting at KXAN-TV in Austin, Texas. A previous employee of WCTV-TV and MTV, Jacqueline is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago and received her M.A. in broadcast journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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