Editor’s note: Students in JAMS 342 Television news Reporting occasionally have the opportunity to anchor news, weather and sports at WTMJ-TV, Milwaukee’s NBC affiliate. This happens when WTMJ runs mock newscasts to train new directors, technical directors and other behind the scenes personnel. This is a personal account from Ninia Linero.
Anchoring at TMJ4 was unlike anything I had ever done. Luckily, we ran through two “shows,” so I was immediately able to try fixing my mistakes from the previous run. I will say, being a meteorologist… not my thing. There is no fixing that no matter how many runs we do, due to the fact that it is all improvisational and is meant to be done by someone who regularly studies and understands weather. We all got a kick out of my failure at that.
I also discovered the flair I had in sports, simply because I recognized everything that was being discussed (and I’m a sports junkie). If I could pick a focus, that is where I probably would narrow in.
This opportunity was offered by a production supervisor at TMJ4, reason being that they are in the process of training another director who was learning along with us. When we first came in, we sat at a desk in the news room and practiced our scripts up until right before show time, which for us was 8:00pm.
Our script was from that day’s 4:00pm show, and was being run exactly how it would a regular show. Everything was recorded, we passed it off to each other for feature stories, weather, etc. and we cut to commercial breaks. Reading from the prompter was easy to get the hang of.
I think my worst problem was my lack of facial expression due to focusing on every word that was coming out of my mouth. When we were done, we received a tour from the floor manager. During the tour, we met the audio director, and he explained that you cannot focus so much on what you say and how you screw it up because you can’t change it. Instead, you have to focus on what’s next and how you can recover. This advice would have helped me going in, because I think I would have relaxed a little more, and I now realize that I have the prompter down so can focus on my personality.
Another thing that I discovered comes with time is being comfortable talking while standing. When I had to stay center to the camera for sports, I felt like I couldn’t move. I may have also looked stiff. That, I think, is just something that has to be done repetitively, and everyone has to find their best-looking, comfortable stance.
Following our runs, they invited us to stay and watch the 10:00pm live show. It was incredibly smooth. We watched the first half from the floor and the second in the directing room with the director, producer and audio producer. It was like second nature to everyone, which again was a reminder that it is simply something that comes with time. However, it was truly inspiring.
Side note: anyone who wants to be a meteorologist, I admire you. I completely botched it!