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The Package Story Form Primer
Electronic Photo and Video Communications

This is only a primer and not the bible on the subject of producing a news story in the form called a package.    There are lots of other things to consider when producing a package story. 

Things that you ought to do to produce a package story:


A package for the DTV News has several elements:

1) Video to illustrate most of the story

2) At least one videotaped interview (but more interviews are acceptable and encouraged).

3) A stand-up the end or in the middle (but NEVER at the beginning)

4) The reporter’s narration must be recorded under the video


A package story must also have:

1) A locator graphic that include a very short headline and the on which day the story occurred (if the day is important)

2) A reporter ID graphic

3) An interview ID graphic (one for each on-camera interview in the story)

4) A stand-up ID graphic


A package may have (if needed):

1) Full screen graphics (typically used for lists)

2) Ambient sound bridges (where the reporter stops talking so that their viewer can hear something that was recorded)


Planning is important.  When you are assigned a package story, you should:


Make a written list of things that need to be said in the story.  You may not know everything that needs to be said and you may not know exactly how it will be said until you do interviews and go to the location (if there is one).  But you should have some idea of what will need to be said, and you should write those down.  As new information comes to your attention as you do interviews, conduct research, and make observations, add to your list.    


Start writing your story early.  It doesn’t matter if it will change later.  Putting the story down on paper helps you to organize the way you will shoot the video, conduct interviews, and do a stand-up.  A script will need to be in the hands of the show producer early on so that he or she can plan where it should be placed in the show line-up and so that other associated elements can be added as warranted.   The story can be revised as needed until the final deadline.  As you write, be sure to write as if you are talking to a friend and make sure that what is being seen on the video tape is what you are talking about in your narration.    


Decide on what video must be shot to illustrate the story.   Decide how you will tell the story.  Decide what the story should look like.  Again, there will be things that come to your attention as you do interviews, conduct research, and make observations, and when that news information comes to your attention you should add to your list the video that you need to shoot to illustrate that information.  Plan a shooting schedule that allows you to meet the deadlines.  Arrange for someone to help you shoot interviews and stand-ups (remember to always shoot cut‑aways when you shoot and on-camera interview).


Decide what on-camera interviews must be done or that you would like to do to tell the story in the most effective way possible.  Arrange for and conduct on-camera interview(s).  Sometimes you will decide to do an interview on the spur of the moment because of something you see or hear while on location shooting video tape.  Sometimes you will plan for the interviews far in advance.  You can shoot these by yourself, but it is always better to have someone help you with this.  Listen to what the interviewee is saying and be sure to ask follow-up questions when warranted.  You can write down questions, but be familiar enough with them that you can ask them without reading them. 


Shoot video to illustrate the story.  Sometimes this will mean going to only one location where the interviews, stand-up, and videotape will all be shot.  Sometimes this will mean going to many locations to shot the parts of the story that are needed.  When you talk about something in your narration, the viewer should be able to see it on the tape.  As soon as possible after shooting any part of your story, make out a shot-sheet.  You may not have a camera or tape deck to view and listen to your story later, so make use of it while you have it.  You will need the information on your shot sheet to write your story.


Shoot a stand-up.  Whether you shoot the stand-up at an event or afterwards depends on the details of the story.  The stand-up should be in a location that has to do with the stand-up itself.  If you are talking about the cafeteria in your stand-up, you should be in the cafeteria for the stand-up and not in the arena.  The stand-up puts you at the scene of the action so that the viewer knows for a fact that what you are reporting something that you find out about for yourself.


Complete the writing of your story.  Use your shot sheet to write so that what is seen on the video tape is what you are talking about in your narration.  Record your narration and edit your story.  As you edit, be sure to have your video start at least 5 seconds before your narration is 1st heard and that there are at least 5 seconds of video after your narration or stand-up ends.

If there are any questions or problems with the content of this page, please contact Ray Tedder by email.  To send an email