How Six Seconds Can Make a Newscast Special

By Doug Drew 

-Let natural sound breathe to create a special moment
-Great video or sound? Do something special with it

I did tuned in last week to see LeBron James return to Cleveland. It wasnt the game I wanted to see. I simply wanted to see how the Cleveland fans would react. I knew they would probably boo him, but I wanted to see to what extent they would “let him have it.” I figured the most interesting moment would probably come prior to the tipoff when the arena announcer introduces each player.

So, there I sat, in front of my TV, waiting for that big moment. But the moment came, and the moment went, and just like that, it was over. Gone. “That was it?” I said to myself. Really? It’s not that the moment didnt happen, it’s just that it didnt become a magic moment, either in the arena or on TV. It could have happened, but why didn’t it?

As the player introductions began, I could hear the boos already starting. When James was introduced, the fans really opened up, but you never really got the drama of it by watching the TNT broadcast. The magic moment never really happened, and I blame two producers for this: the person producing the opening ceremonies and the producer of the TNT broadcast. They had to know this would have been a huge moment, that many viewers were tuning in just to see it. All it would take to make this come alive for those in the arena and for those sitting at home was for the announcer to just pause for a few additional seconds after saying James’ name. There should have been just a short breath, a moment where the announcer said nothing. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the announcer said his name, and as we saw James run onto the court, the announcer was already announcing the next player. Couldn’t they have just taken six seconds to let the natural sound of the fans booing be heard? Instead, the fans jeered, but the announcer kept talking, so it became anti-climatic.

As I said, they HAD to know this was going to be an incredible moment. They had promoted it for a week leading up to the game. All it would take for it to be memorable was a little planning. The producer of the arena operations and the TNT producer should have agreed to let that moment breathe.

Natural sound in newscasts
This same technique applies to newscasts. If you have a special piece of video, sound, or copy, do something special with it. Too often in the haste of putting a story or a newscast together, we just go about doing it the way we always do. That’s what happened in Cleveland. They did the player introductions the same way they did it the night before, and the same way they will do it for the next game. They had something special, but they didnt do anything special with it.

When someone asks me “Doug, what makes one producer or reporter better than another,” this is what I talk about. The most talented people are the ones who recognize they have something special and do something special with it.

Sometimes the best technique is to simply let something in the story or newscast breath for a moment. Not every second has to be filled with copy. If you have something special, give it special attention.

Doug Drew is a morning news specialist with 602 Communications. He can be reached at Follow Doug on facebook and on twitter at