Sky News Day 11: How to make a news story without any pictures..

As happens often in the wonderful land of Sky News, plans are subject to change at the very last minute.  When I rocked up at 8am this morning I fully expected to be working with Kate McAndrew’s afternoon team, turns out I’d instead been shafted to the Live at Five posse once more and faced with the wonderful conundrum of how to illustrate a story when you don’t have any pictures. After the initial mind-blowing concept of creating a broadcast piece without even the measliest of stills, you eventually come to the notion that clearly the piece will be based around some pretty snazzy graphics. But just because you can get some computer genius in the back room to knock up something quick doesn’t mean to say that you’ve solved you’re problem.

To be honest, even I found my eyes wandering to Jimmy’s jewels..

How do you keep an audience entertained when all you’re showing them is some pretty moving lines instead of picture of the late Jimmy Saville’s auction, or whatever else happens to be showing on BBC news at the time? The problem get’s even worse when you realise you’re working on a story centred around the financial problems within the EU – it’s hard enough to get people to listen to that even when you do have pictures. It genuinely does call for some pretty creative thinking, in an area of journalistic work I’d never really considered  and it’s a problem Sky are contending with a lot recently after the BBC were awarded sole coverage rights within the Olympic park.

The man I’m shadowing, Steve, seems to be a pro at the whole thing though and is keen to get the whole gig together without the need for any stats, figures or even words and comes up with some pretty creative ideas involving scissors, falling cranes and the reorganisation of the world map. Crazy as it all may sound, it works, and an advantage I’d never really thought of before sitting at the pre-production end of a Sky graphic is that you can simply write your script to fit whatever it is you dream up on screen. What I hadn’t expected was how long it takes, even for certified graphical whizz kids to make the damn things and how difficult it can be to convey what you actually want. Moral of the story? Because an all-singing-all-dancing one man band and do the whole thing yourself.*

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*This is not to say that the graphics team are not the most talented people in the world ever, just seems like being able to do lots of good stuff is a good skill lots of people want.

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