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Old October 1st, 2004, 11:54 PM   #16
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Please be sure to post your experiences with the news organization(s) over the next few weeks or longer. I'd be interested to see how that market handles freelancers as far as frequency and rates. Thanks.
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Old October 2nd, 2004, 11:13 AM   #17
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Well, they probably wouldn't have given you much (unless it was a lost video of the JFK assasination) so it's probably worth more to you to have a good relationship with these guys if you're serious about wanting to be professional.
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Old October 7th, 2004, 07:50 PM   #18
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Kevin. Any updates on the newsgathering with this affiliate?
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Old October 8th, 2004, 12:19 AM   #19
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Just a couple of thoughts based on my own experience. I've been shooting stringer video for a local station for five years now. COntact the News Director at the station and make an appointment to introduce yourself and discuss supplying video to them as a stringer.Take a short demo reel with you, showing both edited footage and some raw unedited stuff. Find out up front about what they pay and how they pay you. $70 to $100 in a small or mid market is pretty decent. Around here it's generally in the $40 - $50 range. See if they pay mileage if they call you. Be aware you will probably get a 1099 from tehm at the end of the year for taxes. It makes some nice extra money to support your 'habit' for gear but unless you are in a relatively urban area, is probably not going to provide your primary income LOL. There can be some long drawn out periods where you don't get used, then others where you may shoot several stories in a day. Generally stringers provide spot or breaking news coverage when a staff shooter isn't available. That can mean a call at 2AM for a 30 mile drive for a fire or accident. Aftre they become a bit more comfortable with your skills you may start to get some lighter gigs. I've shot everything from fatal accidents, fires, murders, holdups and drug busts to CLifford the Dog visiting a school, city council or school board meetings to benefit walks to interviewing a candidate for governor. I've even run camera on the satelite truck during some hurricane coverage. ( My first official credit on CNN LOL).
It also means listening to the scanner - drives my wife nuts sometimes - and deciding whether to go on a story. If I know there is a chance that a staff crew may be available, I usually call the producer so we don't both show up. Or If I know I'll get there quicker, go shoot the early stuff before the staff shooter gets there.
I generally provide full unedited footage, with a time code for any useable SOTs or especially good footage.
A couple things to keep in mind, even if they call you, be up front about what you get. I've rolled to some accidents or fires that were realtively minor. I generally shoot at least a few minutes of tape, then call the producer to tell them it wasn't really anything, but if it turns out it is I have the tape if they need it. That's paid off on a couple of minor fires that were eventually ruled arson, and I got a call to see if the tape was still available.
I've found if you are as available as possible you get more calls. I rarely turn down a call from teh assignment desk or producer. This morning between midnight and 3AM I shot an accident and arson fire, got to bed finally about 4 AM and went to my day job this morning.
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Old October 8th, 2004, 02:05 AM   #20
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Hey Bud! Welcome to the forum. Good first post!
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Old October 8th, 2004, 07:07 AM   #21
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$35,000 beta cam, high waters and CNN reporting!

Hey Bud, that's way to funny about the hurricane thing. Back in 1996 I started working at the local ABC affiliate here in NH. It's incredible what you are able to do just by circumstance. It truly is being there at the right time, and the right place. After being a PA for early morning news doing promoter, tapes and studio camera I got to do a major thing. My first real credit was also on CNN...interestingly enough!

There was a huge ice storm in the New England area, and when the ice started to melt a lot of towns were literally under water. All the reporters were out covering places, and no one was available to cover this one town that was in horrible shape. They pointed to me and some new intern...handed me a $35,000 beta camera and said go cover it. Now, granted on the way there I figured we were going to ge "b-roll" footage for their next newscast. I didn't know that I'd be driving through 5 feet high water with the beta cam on the roof of the car!! When we finally got into the center of town...all the cops and fire were there. I started "interviewing" everyone, getting b-roll...the whole nine yards. The coverage on this story was huge, but me and my little intern come back with the best footage and interviews. We uplinked to CNN, and for the next 24 hours it was me on CNN as a "reporter".

Just a little lesson to anyone. You can do anything in this world...it's just a matter of being in the right place and the right time. The main thing is to PUT yourself there....don't wait. Make it happen. I've followed this path, and since then have done 1000 things just as amazing.

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Old October 22nd, 2004, 09:17 AM   #22
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Hey Guys

Hi James Hi Chris!

Hey everyone I've been trying to contact NBC30 since Oct 1st. I still cant get a hold of the VP of News, I did talk to her before and she told me to call back b/c she was busy, I called back a couple of days later, still no responce. I emailed her and left voice messages, no responce.

This is what she told me in an e-mail a couple of days after the Bank robbery Footage,

"Hi, Kevin
We will pay for stringer video. Please call us any time you shoot anything newsworthy. Anything more than that would be a whole other discussion, but one I'm willing to have.

Sheila

Sheila Trauernicht
Vice President/News Director
NBC 30 Connecticut
860 313-4214 (office) "

What should I do keep trying to get a hold of her? I want to send them a couple of packages...

This Sunday in my "old" hometown, My brother and family live there, but anyhow they just built a huge new Volunteer Fire Dept, my brother is a Fire Marshal there, and they are having a ribbon cutting cermony. I was thinking of bringing my camera and get some shots of it then call NBC30 and try to get them to air it. It seems like they may be hurting for news? They keep airing this stupid flue vaccine shortage and thats about it. I was thinking of interviewing a town official etc, and ask: what this will do for the community etc. I've seen this type of footage with other ribbon cutting ceromnies before. Do you think they will take my footage?

I will appreciate any type of answers you guys have.

Thanks!!
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Old October 22nd, 2004, 05:02 PM   #23
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Yeah man, go for it ...can't hurt. Also, start working on short films or some public access television shows. That way you can submit a "reel" to the station as well as show them how well you shoot news.

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Old October 24th, 2004, 06:23 PM   #24
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Hey,
I got the footage, I called NBC30 She said she'll have to talk to her producer and call me back, I called her she said he wasnt in yet shell call me, I never got a call back :-( should I of expected that? I thought I did a prettty darn good story, I'll post the video. got to run....
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Old October 24th, 2004, 07:12 PM   #25
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My own experience is it's tougher to sell an edited package than it is to sell the raw footage. There are a lot of different angles to look at
1) What other news was there that day? Maybe it was a time thing...
2) In all likelihood they had a press release announcing the ribbon cutting, if they felt they were going to use it they probably would have sent a staff crew to shoot it
3) How timely was the piece, if it was the evening before you pitched them the story, then it may be 'old news'

Generally local news stations are looking for breaking news from their stringers, or if it is soft news, like this ribbon cutting, they will want the raw footage and some general information rather than an edited package. Even if they use it, you don't know how they are going to slot it for time, what looks like a great 1:10 vosot pack to you may only warrant :20 vo in the producers mind.
If you only give them the 1:10 to work with, they may not want to cull out the :20 they want for the piece...
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Old October 25th, 2004, 06:21 AM   #26
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Hey Bud,
Ya I understand what you are saying most definatly.
The ceremony happend Sunday I called right after I got the footage. I did an edited version and I had the raw footage. I didnt mention that to them, I figured they might like it better edited so they didnt have to do any of the work. I wish she would of gotten back to me either way.

I hope they didnt think I was crazy for calling and asking to air the story. I should of told them I have raw footage, but they might of thought it was crappy footage. But in all, I took "newsworthy" footage, just like an everyday pro news photog would do.
On a good note, at the ceremony, one of my mom's friends was talking to her, and she (my mom) mentioned that I've been talking to NBC30 and that she has a cousin that works at the station and shell let him or her know about me.

One more step into the door, I hope.

Also I finally got a hold of the VP of news, and she referred me to her Operations manager, who does all the hiring of photogs etc. So I'm waiting for a call back from him, If he does not call back within a few days should I call him back again and followup?
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Old October 25th, 2004, 07:02 AM   #27
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I probably would try to call him back and make an appointment to come in and talk to him. Tell him you are inerested in providing stringer video for them and you would like to sit down and discuss how to handle the video. When you get the meeting some points to consider...
1) Establish a rate - this is going to depend on how you deal with them as far as the video is concerned. Do they own the video or do you own the video and license it to them? Generally you will own the rights to the video, but make sure that is clear. If you license it to them, is it exclusive in the market? In other words, are you agreeing to only sell it to them, if they buy it you won't try to sell to any other stations. If they don't take it then you should be free to peddle it to whoever you want.
2) Determine if they will be permitted to feed it if you do get a big story. Again this is a licensing consideration, you may give them exclusive in market rights, and reserve the right to sell to the networks yourself.
3) Ascertain what types of video they will want. Breaking news... soft news... etc....
4) If you can be available to supplement staff shooters give them a contact point. I get calls for both soft and breaking news from teh AE ort the producer when they have crew tied up, or sudden breaking news prevents a crew from getting to a soft news event.
5) Determine contact points/contact numbers, who do you call with the information?
6) How do you invoice them for the video. They may have a standard stringer invoice form you use.
7) What does this station consider newsworthy as far as breaking news is concerned.. fire/ accidents etc... some small markets, almost any accident will work, in other markets, unless it's a multi-car/multifatality ax it won't make air... depends on the market and the station.

Unless you are in an urban area, and there is a huge level of competition there, you aren't going to get rich shooting as a stringer, but it can be several hundred bucks a month in extra income, the more aggressive you are shooting, the more you will make :)
Some other points to keep in mind... are there periods when there are no staff shooters? IE overnight or weekend overnights etc? These are times you should pay particular atention to the scanner...
You also want to get to the scene in as timely a manner as you can... Flames sell, the FD racking hose and tearing down just isn't as effective....
Get to know the producers a bit, I usually give the producer or AE a quick call about breaking news if I hear something, before I leave the house. If they have a staff shooter, they usually let e know, which will save me the trip. If they don't, they already know I'm covering it, and they are expecting video of the event and can plan that in their show lineup. It also helps keep your name in the forefront of the producers mind for those times when they need someone to shoot, hopefully they give you the call.
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Old October 25th, 2004, 08:18 AM   #28
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Bud,
Yeah, I wasnt sure if they take soft news form a non employed person other than the 'breaking news". You said your a stringer and they call you if there is breaking news, how long have you been working whit this station? How much avg a month do you make? When I talk to the Operations manager, should I really establish a rate? I mean I'm really looking for a job, ya that is a big step, I'de rather have a job there than a stringer, but if thats what I have to do before I get a job there then I can handle that. Do I just say I want to be compensated for my work? I'm just afraid hell laugh in my face and say your are the one that wants to give us video were not begging you for it so why shoudl we pay you, but I guess thats what being a stringer is all about.
Is it true that stations are allways looking for video to air so at times thell take anything newsworthy.

What is an AE? I will give a day or two before I call the operations manager, I'm sure hes very busy, and see what he has to say. I heard from someone on another board that NBC30 was looking for vacation relief people, and some of the photogs were not working out, so hopefully it will work out.

Thank you very much for all your input I appreciate it alot. I'll let you know how I made out.
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Old October 25th, 2004, 09:11 AM   #29
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I usually average about 300-400 a month from local news, and a couple hundred average from The Weather Channel video I shoot, most of that is winter/spring tho, not much really interesting weather here in Central PA in the summer LOL. I've been working with this station for about 4 years now, and get to shoot a fair amount of soft news, parades, council meetings, political announcements, as well as breaking news. Knowing the area, and driving your POV rather than a marked news unit are often a great advantage. Several years ago we had a major industrial fire about 10 miles North of town. It happened to be about a mile from my mother's home where i grew up. Since I knew the area, I was able to get within a couple hundred yards of the fire to park and walked the rest of the way. I was able to spend about 90 minutes shooting the progress of the fire, and had the only news camera actually on the fireground. All the others tried coming in from the main road which had already been shut down with restricted access.
If you are looking for a staff job then by all means let them know when you meet with the ops manager. ( AE btw is assignment editor) Have a VHS sample of 'news' video, make sure it has all the elements.. wide, medium, and tight shots; cutaways; nat sound etc... givee them a raw version, and then a edited version. In the edit, avoid music, use nat sound- keep it short 40 seconds edited per story is probably plenty. The trick to good stuff is being able to tell the story in pictures, in a limited time frame. Good sequencing, and good cutaways will give the editors something to work with, and shows them that you have the basics of what is needed to tel the story.
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Old October 26th, 2004, 11:38 AM   #30
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You sell your video to The Weather Channel as well? How do you go about that? So you are a stringer for that channel only, or do you go to other stations if they donít youíre your news. What kind of equipment do you use? I have a GL2, Bogen tripod etc. Iím looking to get a good light, and better wireless setup pref a handheld un UHF. What do you use? When you go get soft news are you alone, or are you the one who asks all the questions? Just want to learn as much as I can about this. Hope to hear from you. Thanks
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