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How to Do a "Standup" for a TV News Story


The standup is the part in a broadcast reporter's live or pre-recorded story in which she literally "stands up" in front of the camera. It may happen at the beginning, middle or end of the story, and the purpose is to add depth, provide another view of the action or help the viewer better understand an aspect of the story. While it's a common storytelling tactic for reporters in the field, not every standup is effective. Make yours better by remembering a few tenets of good storytelling.

Add Something New

The main purpose of the standup is to add another element to the story. It should move the story forward, not happen as an afterthought, says non-profit journalism resources center NewsLab. The purpose of a standup is not to interject your own point of view, suggests the American Journalism Review, but to share something that is backed up by solid facts. Even in stories in which you might have been personally involved, try to "tell the story and not to be the story," says journalist Susan Sachs in the book "Women Journalists at Ground Zero: Covering Crisis." If you're in a place where no other reporters have had access or you have some other unique perspective, talk to your producers about how to share any personal details you have about the story.

Show and Tell

Standups add an additional visual element to the story, and they benefit from a "show and tell" approach. Aim to demonstrate how something works or feature a visual aid that adds to the viewer's understanding of the topic. NewsLab gives the example of using a coffee filter to demonstrate how a retention pond works. The prop is a visual aid that helps the reader understand the facts.

Warm Up

Warm up and rehearse before you actually record your standup. Look at your script and underline or highlight any words you want to emphasize. Keep your standup relatively brief so that it's easy to remember your script, yet long enough to set up the beginning of a story, further the action during the middle or wrap up all the facts at the end. When you begin reading, look directly at the camera, don't slouch or shift your weight, and use a clear, deep voice. It's OK to talk with your hands or gesture, as this can make your stand up more conversational, suggests the University of California Berkeley School of Journalism.

Additional Visuals and Sound

Unusual angles or small bits of video or natural sound can add interest to the standup. For example, walk near a place that's been deemed dangerous by the city -- so long as it's safe for you, of course -- or play a sound bite of a noise that's prompting residents to complain. A sound bite between the end of your standup and the rest of your story can help pad any awkward changes in sound quality, recommends author Janet Kolodzy in the book "Convergence Journalism: Writing and Reporting Across the News Media."

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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