↑ Scroll to top

Newsmaking Tips by BBC Former TV & Radio Reporter

Published: October 28, 2013 | 10:57 am
Text size: -A +A



The act or process of making news, doing or saying something that is newsworthy– this is the general definition of newsmaking. To liven up the theoretical knowledge practical experience is essential and this takes time. And it’s always important to learn from the world-famous, best experienced news reporters. Tony Coll– BBC former TV & radio reporter, producer– a person whose actions have made headlines of news reports, is one of the most prominent examples to follow. The COMMERCIAL TIMES exclusively interviewed Mr. Coll.

– Mr. Coll, you are one of the UK’s most experienced newsmaker with one of the most diverse backgrounds-newspaper, radio and TV, advertising, production, etc. It’s a fact that not every story has scandal involved, for instance, business news cannot that shocking as political or social topics. What is the main message to be put in reports/stories to make let’s say business news breakthrough?

– Business news first has to be news. I have a little formula that’s called CHORTLE. C is for conflict-everybody likes news about people punching each-other or having war or something. In business you don’t do that, but there is competition, differences of opinion, it’s enough to have debate going. H is human-even in business it has to be related to humanity, even if the business your are discussing is not directly related to public, somewhere you have to follow the chain and at the end of the chain there is a human being. To get the human element you should always do this for every story that you cover. O stands for odd – unusual. An American newspaper editor once said, if a dog bites a man that’s not a story but if a man bites a dog that’s a story. Trying to find things that are unusual is difficult in business, because most of the stories that you will be dealing with are people doing annual reports. New products are sometimes interesting. R– means relevant. News has to be relevant to your target audience and reasonably topical. T-topical means the first time you tap it, it can have been known about in a small circle for a long time but the first time it goes public it’s when it goes topical. L-local is similar to relevant and stands for being your target audience. And the final thing is E-entertaining. If your audience is not entertained and interested in the subject matter then you got a problem. So, these are the basic things about news in general.

– As an experienced TV producer, news reporter on television, what would you say is the top eye-catcher?
– TV news is about pictures, so that every story has to have an associated picture and sometimes it gets really difficult. Very often a business interview is about a guy sitting at a desk and that’s really boring. Think about the subject what the respondent is talking about. If the topic is about a product go to the factory or to the place where the product will be consumed. If there’s any possibility of interviewing the respondent wearing a uniform of any kind, do that. For example, if you’re talking to a doctor it’s always more interesting if they have a white coat and a stethoscope. It’s quite popular for CEOs in construction or heavy engineering to be interviewed with a hard hat and a workman jacket. These are the visual clues. All these things help liven up the story.

– Some people just love talking. How should a reporter behave not to sound rude but make the interviewee cut it short?

– You can signal with body language or you can butt in. No answer should be longer than a minute and a half cause after that it turns into a speech, so you cut in with another question and make visually clear that it’s your turn now.

– What about editing long speeches?
– The easiest editing is the editing that you do in your head while you’re doing an interview. It’s much easier than getting at studio and trying to cut the best parts. It’s worth explaining that to the interviewee. You say, we know you’re a very good speaker but we want you to speak a minute and a half, tops. Imagine if you’re running from a burning building and you have no time, what would you say then about this subject?

– How should a reporter comment on No Comment?

– I run training courses for executives about how to be interviewed on television and what I’m telling them is-never say No Comment, because it’s suspicious, or never refuse to comment.

If you have no information all that is left is rumor. My first job was a reporter on a weekly paper in London, East end of London, which is a fairly poor area. I was sent on a story to cover a pub that announced it would have topless barmaid. The girl who was hired to do this did not show up, so there was no story. I went to the next pub and got all these old guys complain about how terrible it was that the first pub had topless barmaid.

– Having a diverse background in newsmaking, would you assess common and different features of being job newspaper, radio and TV reporter?
– I started with a local newspaper in London and then worked for a daily newspaper in Sheffield Yorkshire. Then I went to Germany just to have a change, I taught English in language school. When I came back I worked for BBC World Service for two years as a writer that was a great experience, writing words that were designed to be spoken out loud. Having started as a newspaper reporter it took me a while to learn how to write for radio because here you have to be so much shorter in text. There’s no much difference between radio and TV writing. In case of TV you have to remember all the time there has to be a picture, whatever you’re saying there has to be a picture to match. The first you see and hear must catch your eye and ear. It’s voluntary, all these people who are watching your program they will change the channel if it gets boring.

– As for reporting LIVE, do you have any ‘rescue’ rules for unexpected turn of situation?

– Doing LIVE report first time is absolutely nerve breaking. Research is really important. You have to know what to do if the person you must interview does not arrive or does not have anything to say. So, if you’re in an interesting old building, describe the building. This has happened to me on election night. During general elections there are reporters all over the place where votes are being counted. Sometimes they come over to you and you got nothing to say at all. All you can say is I’m in a very historic townhall here but the results have not yet been announced.

Tony Coll, former TV & radio reporter, producer, BBC Coll is one of the UK’s most experienced media and presentation coaches and trainers. A former BBC TV and BBC Radio reporter and producer, he has worked for many years with senior figures from companies and organisations of all sizes; politicians; national and local government officers; health service and utility managers; pressure group spokespeople; charity workers; chief police and fire officers. He worked at cabinet level with the late Veronica Crichton, former director of communications at the Labour Party, in media training several UK government ministers. Tony’s training can be delivered in the form of personal coaching or consultancy, in groups or as part of wider emergency response training. It covers effective emergency communication with newspapers, radio, TV and social media as well as addressing live audiences.

VN:F [1.9.10_1130]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
More posts in category: Featured,Local Business News
  • Date of Implementation of the Universal Healthcare Programme’s Third Stage Still Unknown
  • Silknet and Caucasus Online Respond to Magti’s Accusations
  • Georgia has Advanced to the Top 10 List of Ease of Doing Business, Not Everyone Shares the Happy Feeling
  • Museum wants UNESCO listing to save German Father Christmas from Coca-Cola’s Santa image