Back when local television stations had warehouses where they printed money, there were simple rules about what we tolerated on live television, and what we didn’t. One of the things that fell into “not going to work for us” was the drunk guy crashing into the shot and derailing your newscast. Reporters forced to do an 11 o’clock liveshot from a sports bar would be ready for anything, and know that if it all went to hell, producers would simply roll the package or dump out of you altogether. And that would be that. Because to do anything else would simply encourage more idiots to target live television cameras, right?
Ah, but those were innocent days. Today, you and your liveshot and your carefully stacked show all come second to the lure of clicks. So that drunk guy? He’s not really seen as a nuisance, but rather an opportunity. Lens lice, you say? How about money magnet? So bring on the put-me-on-TV guy. If he can sneak up on, say, our sports director after an ALCS game and scare the crap out of him on live television, well that could mean some serious web traffic.
So instead of cutting away and moving on, stations today are far more likely to stick with it, post the video to the station website, and hope it gets picked up by Jimmy Fallon and BuzzFeed. Make sure we tweet out a link before the newscast is over! And if it takes off, let’s do a segment on it in the morning show as well.
So watch your backs, reporters. The folks who drill you on active liveshots and punchy writing and getting right to the video are the same people who would gladly have you pushed out of frame by a drunk who wants his own moment of viral fame if it means a clip that could be gold. By the way, did you see the hits that dancing kid got?
Good luck out there.