Live TV can be a very funny business.
I've done a few thousand live shots out among the public during my 28 years on camera. Such comingling is usually fun, but sometimes...not so much.
The worst for me was the time I stood on top of a live truck to keep clear of the drunks while reporting from the Rose Parade route on New Year's Eve. Inebriated revelers started rocking the live truck, and then a beer bottle hit me. My reaction? Inside, I was terrified and furious. On the outside, however, I started laughing on camera. That's an old trick I learned from another reporter — when things start hitting the fan (or hitting you), don't freak out. The audience will tense up. Laugh and the audience laughs with you.
I both laughed and felt empathy this week watching a live shot by CNN reporter Kareen Wynter at the Kim Kardashian wedding.
It's become an instant classic.
This isn't about Wynter. She did the best she could trying to say interesting things about Kardashian's dress. I think she mentioned Bruce Jenner. To be honest, I have no idea what she said. I couldn't take my eyes off the kid in the background who stole the show.
For a solid minute, the kid makes every imaginable face a pre-adolescent is capable of. To his credit, he keeps it clean. I couldn't decide whether I wanted to whack him upside the head or offer him a contract on the spot.
Wynter, however, never knew he was there.
Which begs a few questions...
First, WHAT WAS THE CAMERAMAN (WOMAN) DOING?
Did he or she not see what was going on? I have worked with photographers who have been so focused on the "big picture" they don't notice details. But this detail is impossible to miss. Want to cut out the kid? Zoom in.
- The cameraperson is completely oblivious.
- He or she hates Kareen Wynter and is loving the kid.
- It's the cameraperson's kid.
- He or she is being told by the director back in Atlanta to "keep it wide, show the kid".
- The camera is unmanned.
Often these days, a cameraperson will lock down the camera and go operate the microwave/satellite truck, which can be several yards away. Some call this "right sizing" news costs. This is the only palatable explanation for what happened here.
Second, WHAT IS THE PRODUCER BACK IN THE CONTROL BOOTH DOING?
I know things get busy in the control booth, but is no one watching the screen and seeing this?
- Total chaos on the control booth. You'll notice Wynter just keeps talking and talking, and CNN doesn't show any videotape of anything — crowds lining the wedding route, aerials, anything. Maybe they were so busy trying to figure out where to go next they weren't watching the here and now.
- The producer actually liked the kid's performance, figured it enhanced CNN's coverage, and just let it play out. This I get. However, if I was the reporter, I would've loved someone to say in my earpiece, "turn around". On air, I could've turned and caught the kid in mid-grimace. His reaction to that would have been priceless.
To CNN's credit, they know a good thing when they see it and have posted the video online. Frankly, it was my favorite part of the non-stop wedding coverage.
As a friend in the news biz said, "I looked up 'oxymoron' and it said, 'Kardashian news report'."
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