CNBC’s Schacknow: It’s All About the Video

If you’ve been extremely bored and somehow stumbled across my bio on the site, you’ll note that I have an extensive background in radio. Radio, as many have noted, has no pictures and is beautiful in its simplicity. TV, on the other hand, is nothing without pictures.

As simple as this sounds, it took me a very long time to comprehend and appreciate that fact when I first made the transition to TV. However, many kind people have taken time over the years to properly train me, and now I salivate at the prospect of good video to accompany a story.

All of which prompts me to give you a behind-the-scenes look at where and how we decide what video to use to accompany a story. (Contrary to popular opinion, there is no place called “the blue” from whence video comes, even though that accusation comes our way often.)

Story 1: Biocryst Pharmaceuticals shares rise 10% after the government awards it a four-year contract for advanced development of its anti-viral flu drug Peramivir. Our pharmaceuticals reporter, Mike Huckman, called down to tell me that - having reported on this drug before - he’d already given our tape library footage of that drug. We internally refer to this type of video as “VO” (short for voiceover, so named because the anchor reads, or voices, over the video).

Story 2: The U.S. Federal Trade Commission fines four companies a total of $25 million for making false claims for their weight-loss products, including Trimspa. Who do you think of when you think of Trimspa? Anna Nicole Smith, of course. A quick trip to the tape list revealed we had plenty of Anna available. Yes, I know this isn’t Access Hollywood. The key was writing the story so that the tape made sense. The lead line was “Anna Nicole Smith may think Trimspa helped her lose all that weight, but the FTC isn’t convinced.” I was pretty proud of that one, though I’m easily amused. (One publicly traded company - Bayer - was among those fined.)

Story 3: New stats from Nielsen Soundscan show that album sales fell about 5% last year, but purchases of single digital downloaded tracks soared 65%. I knew I wanted pictures of people buying compact discs and/or downloading music, but there was none in the current tape list.

Thankfully, we have a group of hard-working, largely unappreciated people working in video production. All I have to do is type a request in the computer, and like magic, it appears. And it did.

The results of all of the above appeared in Melissa Lee’s 1 p.m. E.T. headlines. Notice that it took much longer for me to describe it than it did for Melissa to do her report!