“Ask lots of questions.” “Arrive early, stay late.” “Be proactive.” “Do everything with a smile on your face.” I ran through the last minute advice I had been given on the way to my first day the Channel Nine newsroom. It was 8:45am and I was asked to arrive at 9am. Nice and early. I caught the lift up to level four and sat in the reception room with a smile on my face.
Sally, the lady who organized my week of work experience, greeted me at precisely 9am. My heart was beating fast as I took my first steps towards the newsroom where I would be for the entire week.
She introduced me to the reporters, producers, Chief of Staff (COS), editors and to the boss of production. As I shook hands, I tried to remember which people I was told to make a good impression on.
As I sat behind the desk of a reporter who had a day off, I looked around and saw many familiar faces. I felt nervous, slightly intimidated but incredibly grateful to be able to learn from some of the best.
“Eddie- you’re on Adelaide United today. Leave in ten. Take Alessandra with you,” the COS yelled out from across the room. My eyes lit up as I realized I was about to hit the road to report on Adelaide United’s premiership win in the CBD. Eddie put on a suit jacket, gathered his things and we exited the building down a flight of stairs, which lead to a car park full of white vans. It was like something out of a movie.
The cameraman was waiting for us, so we jumped in and made our way to the location. We set up about an hour before the event began to ensure a good angle. We stood and we waited. When the short appearance from the team had finished, we turned to the public for questions. It was then I learnt how annoying you have to be sometimes to get people to talk. You have to be resilient, patient and persistent to create a good story.
When Eddie was happy that he had sufficient information, we went back to the newsroom. He asked me to have a go at writing the script and offered to read over it once I was finished. I nervously picked up a pen and paper and began to write the story, with a smile on my face. As I did, I couldn’t’ help but notice that he trekked back and forth to the recording booth and I wondered what on earth he was doing.
Once he had finished, he explained the process of writing and recording voiceovers to a television script. It was then I realized I had written my story all-wrong. Feeling extremely silly for writing a news article rather than a script, I quietly scrunched up the piece of paper and threw it in the bin.
“Do you want me to have a look at yours?” Eddie offered. “Nah that’s ok, I’m not quite finished yet.”
I rocked up early again on day two. I followed around a different reporter, Jess, to a hospital where we covered a ‘not for now’ story she had been working on. It was about a young couple that had a premature baby and were taking him home after months of being in hospital. It was just in time for Mother’s Day. I watched her conduct an interview where she asked loaded questions, which set the couple up for a solid 45 minutes of talking and crying about their experience. I learnt that day that unfortunately, emotion and tears make for a good story.
When we arrived back at the station I had another go at writing a script. This time with a little more of an idea of what was required. When I was finished, I built up the courage to ask one of the journalists to read over it. I stood there watching him read and waited for the “constructive” feedback.
“Well, you can write- but this is too emotional. It needs to be short and punchy. Good try though,” he said.
I laughed and explained that this was my first time writing television scripts and hoped to God he didn’t think I was incompetent! I sat down, took a breath in, and tried again. I was way out of my comfort zone.
That night I decided to head down to watch the newsreaders for the 6pm edition in the recording room. Expecting lights, cameras and action, I was taken aback when there was simply a news desk and two automated cameras. It was really quiet-almost eerie. Everything was being controlled in the production room upstairs. The news reporters sat and read through their first few lines and warmed up their voices. It was a fantastic opportunity to watch the news being read live.
The next day was my favourite day. I went with another reporter, Alice, to a Qatar Airways press conference at one of Adelaide’s finest hotels. She had been following the story for several months as they recently launched a daily service out of the state. We were given gifts and an amazing (free) lunch of sashimi and sushi. “These are the good days,” Alice said jokingly.
We arrived back to the station and she went out on to the balcony, which overlooked the city to do her piece to camera. She did it quickly and professionally. “Ok your turn now,” she said. “Just say exactly what I did and we will put it all together when you’re finished so you have something to take home with you.” My eyes popped out of my head and my heart rate skyrocketed. “Ok, sure,” I said, with a smile on my face.
As she handed me the microphone, it almost slipped out of my sweaty hands. I shook uncontrollably and had to remind myself to breath. The intensely bright lights of the camera came on. I couldn’t see anything. “Try not to squint so much,” the cameraman said just before he pressed record.
After about four takes we were finished. I was so relieved I had done my first piece to camera. I took it to the control room where it was uploaded. I recorded my voiceovers and the editors put it all together. Voila- I had officially produced a news story at Channel Nine!
Friday came around quickly. I felt sad that it was my final day- but also slightly relieved that I had made it through the week. At 6pm I sat in the production room and watched the news being produced live. It was incredible to see exactly what goes on behind the scenes (a lot of hard work).
As it finished up, I walked out to discover that the newsroom had been transformed into a pub! Friday night knock off’s- everyone had a stubby in their hand and were letting down their hair. It was a perfect way to end the week.
Next stop- Channel Seven.