Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Posts Tagged ‘mistake

This is the Problem with Pretaping

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To paraphrase, that’s what OPB’s Dave Miller said before a retake on the intro to a story about a report issued by the state on elder and disabled adult abuse.  The story was the second segment on this morning’s “Think OutLoud”.  He was retaking the intro because he wasn’t happy with how he had said the words “vunerable adults” as he described that upcoming story.  It was one of those rare moments when you get to peek behind the veil of what seems so often like aural perfection to see the tiny screw ups that most producers and editors successfully remove.

It also made me realize that Think Outloud isn’t live.  They’re clear that the evening rebroadcast isn’t live, but I’ve always thought the morning version is.  It isn’t, but it suddenly made sense why they tell listeners earlier in the morning to start submitting comments for Think Outloud; because they begin recording the program at 10 a.m. and are finished between 11 and noon, which is when they broadcast the taped version for the first time.

I’ve talked about these kind of mistakes before, noting that with the sophistication of equipment and the crunch of time, it can sometimes be easy to miss a retake until you hear it later.  It can be a cringe worthy moment.

It will be interesting if Mr. Miller’s retake is in the evening re-broadcast.

Written by Interviewer

October 31, 2014 at 02:40

Posted in Scratchpad

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Keep Talking

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I want to mention that formatting some of my most recent posts has been kind of hinky.  I don’t know what WordPress is doing but I’m sure there is often somebody making tweeks that don’t work and then, those tweeks get undone and things go back to working seamlessly.  I’m hoping it soon moves back to the seamless part.

Anyway, this is another quickie.  It has to do with the interviewer’s mistakes during an interview.  Specifically, the concept of fixing as you go.  If you’re live, then your fixes are awkward because everybody hears them.  You have a brain fart, you stutter, you recall wrong information, whatever.  If this doesn’t happen too often, you are probably endeared to your listeners as being an authority, but not TOO much of an authority because, you can make mistakes just like them.  I’ll be talking about perfect host speech in a later post.

But if you’re recording the conversation for later editing and broadcasting/posting, your guest probably doesn’t care if you fix as you go.  In fact, they may be fascinated by the process because they too may not realize mistakes are made that the audience never hears.  When I, as a young reporter, learned that fix as you go was an essential tool for narration, it changed my world.  Because until then, you tend to want to be perfect.  Learning the mechanics of articulation can be a blessing and a curse.  Your speech improves by orders of magnitude once you learn how it should sound, about proper pronunciation and placement of tongue on teeth for words, letters and syllables.  But conversely, once you start noticing your own mistakes, you never want to make any.  And that means a young producer or reporter might spend way too much time starting over from the beginning ever time they make the slightest grammatical mistake.  That old joke of someone doing ten, twenty, thirty or more re-takes … sometimes it’s not a joke.

So the fix it as you go method is, you’re reading your text.  You make a mistake.  Do you go back to the very beginning of the document?  No.  Do you go back to the beginning of the paragraph?  No.  At most, you go back to the beginning of the sentence, taking care to remember your volume, pitch, cadence and mood so that when you edit out the mistake, it sounds seamless.  At the very least, you pick up at the word you messed up so you’re cutting a single word instead of a sentence worth of them.

Here’s what it might look like:

The case was returned to Grand Jury for … the Grand Jury after the Attorney General …

The mistake was in the first half of the sentence.  The reader forgot to say “the”.  This happens a lot because the brain is always ahead of the mouth.  Often you hear people skip words or juxtapose letters or syllables when they talk.  In the edit, all you have to do is cut out the first “Grand Jury for” and you’re good to go.  Plus, the fewer times you repeat words you’ve already spoken, the less of a chance you’ll misspeak them again, which also saves time and can prevent those annoying re-takes.

That might not sound like a big concession, to not repeat the whole sentence in favor of just a word or two.  But if you are OCD, like so many producers and reporters are, you realize that immediately continuing on from the point you messed up will save you scores of minutes of editing.  And if you’re under deadline, one second too late is still one second too late.

Written by Interviewer

April 11, 2014 at 03:00

Posted in Scratchpad

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