“A child molester caught in Smithville. After the break, we’ll have reaction from local residents.” Is this “reaction” really teasable? There are lots of facts in this story that viewers may want to hear, but how the neighborhood will react is not one of them. Is anyone sitting on the edge of their seat wondering if the neighbors will welcome a molester to their community? Of course, everyone is going to say “this is terrible.” This kind of tease has no payoff, and promotes the most superficial part of the story.
The same is true of coverage of contentious issues. “We’ll find out how citizens feel about the new sidewalks.” Of course, there will be people who love them and people who hate them. Is this person on camera someone with an informed opinion, or just some yahoo looking to get on TV? Most of the time, man-on-the-street coverage is not a teasable reason to tune in.
This kind of coverage is the gravy of the story. It adds life and human passion to a package. It captures the emotion of the situation. It is a vital component in a story, but is not something most viewers make an appointment to watch. Almost always, it is the expected comment or the cliched coverage. “We’ll see how fans are reacting to State’s big football victory.” Does anyone not know exactly what they’ll see? Start your promo with lots of field sound of the fans hooting and hollering. That adds energy and excitement, but follow up with a solid promise of enterprising coverage. This is where most teases fall short.
There’s lots of bluster in the MOS, but no promise of solid coverage. Comments from random people do not prove your enterprise reporting. Great reaction can build the passion and energy of a tease, but it should never be a crutch to hide a lack of substantive information. Where will your reporter take me? What interesting facts will she uncover? Is she just jamming a mic in the face of random people, or has she actually done some reporting? Show me she has solid information and not just a haphazard collection of random soundbites.
Graeme Newell is a broadcast and web marketing specialist who serves as the president and founder of 602 communications. You can reach Graeme at firstname.lastname@example.org.