A package is the backbone of a newscast. You will be expected to turn in at least one package per day, if not more. A package is a story complete with an anchor lead-in that you will write to introduce the story; copy that you will write and read telling the story, interviews, stand-ups, and an anchor tag that you will write to end the story.
Remember every story having a beginning, middle, and end? Here the anchor lead-in is the beginning, The package is the middle, and the anchor tag is the end.
Now within the package – your story – there is also a beginning, middle and end. You set up the premise, you have the facts, and you go full circle with the conclusion.
After you’ve completed all your interviews, you will need to shoot a stand-up. A stand-up is video and sound of the reporter on tape that is inserted into the package.
Stand-ups fulfill a couple of needs in a story. Stand-ups can be used to create empathy with the viewer, to take the viewer to the scene, to serve as a transitional device or bridge from one location to another, from one point of view to another. Sometimes stand-ups can be used to present information for which you may have no video. Stand-ups can also be used to illustrate an aabstract idea.
You may end a package with a stand-up, you may have a stand-up in the middle (a “bridge”), but never begin with a stand-up. If the most important information of the story is the reporter on camera speaking perhaps the story needs a new approach.
When writing a package you must include the verbatim of sound bites and stand-ups in your story. Your producer or executive producer will be responsible for approving the content of your story and the verbatim will be necessary in fact checking and checking for legal liabilities. Most news operations also provide closed captioning for the hearing impaired audience. Your written words and sound bites appear at the bottom third of the screen for those viewers to read. So yes, that means you must write every single word.
Standard Out vs. Non-Standard Out
Another package element is the reporter out. A standard out is the closing a reporter uses at the end of the package. The reporter will give his/her name, possibly his/her location, and who they’re reporting for; “In Scott County, I’m Tiffany Hunter for Action News” or “I’m Max Mitchell for Action News”.
A non-standard out is one without a reporter closing. There is only the last sentence of your package, which you will provide to the newscast director, so he’ll know your story is over. A non-standard out most often will occur if you are doing a “live” wrap around or a set piece.
Do not confuse a reporter out with an anchor tag. A reporter out is part of a package. An anchor tag follows the package.
Stand-up vs. Live Reporter Wrap
A term you’ll hear producers use is “change the trick”. When its obvious that you and your competition will all have the same lead story, producers (and reporters) start looking for ways to make their story standout from the rest. One of the easiest ways to do this is to send the reporter out to be “live” for a reporter wrap around.
Do not confuse a “live” wrap around with beginning a package with a standup.
In a “live”wrap, the anchor on set tosses to the reporter who is in the field. With a wrap you will write the anchor toss in addition to a lead-in that you will read before your package. At the end of your package you will have a ‘non-standard” out – you will tab your own package and toss back to the anchor in the studio.
A word of caution here: if you know you are doing a “live” wrap remember that you cannot end your package with a stand up. Think about it: you’re standing there in your package, then you’re standing there in your live shot!
Next month: Two writing exercises.
Republished from Broadcast Basics by Yvonne Cappe, published by Marion Street Press, 2006