Don’t be surprised if you start seeing Channel 5 reporters walking around aimlessly during their live shots. That’s what they’ve been told to do.
WCVB-TV staffers are upset about a directive from their boss, Paige Harrison, the news director of Boston’s ABC affiliate, who wants reporters to “start walking and talking” in their live shots. The order arrived in an e-mail from Harrison that reads in part:
“WARNING — This will not be a ground-breaking email — I’m sure you’ve all heard it a million times before. That said, we need to start walking and talking in our live shots and standups. Right now — we are doing it about 10 percent of the time. That’s not nearly enough.
“It’s funny, I must have looked at thousands of reporter/anchor reels over the years, and in most of them the reporters are walking and talking, likely because somebody told them that [news directors] like me want to see that. Trouble is, once they get hired those ‘walk and talks’ disappear for some reason, something I have yet to really figure out.
“It’s not brain surgery,” wrote Harrison, who was named WCVB-TV news director last December. “And really it just adds energy and engagement to your presentation. To quote a once popular song, ‘I like to move it move it, I like to move it move it.’ ”
The “once-popular song” to which Harrison refers is, of course, “I Like to Move It,” the 1993 hit by the electronic dance duo Reel 2 Real.
Anyway, the message was received, but not happily.
“I agree with you, as I imagine many of us do, that ‘active’ live shots make great tv. They provide reporters and photographers an opportunity to not only tell our story, but to demonstrate our story in a compelling and entertaining manner,” one staffer said in an e-mail to Harrison. “I do strongly disagree with the notion of walking, simply for the sake of walking. ‘Walking to nowhere’ in live shots does not add any content, significance, meaning or credibility to our stories. In fact, it is my opinion that it can be distracting. For example, I have never seen a network correspondent move for the sake of moving.”
But Harrison is undeterred.
“I want to be super clear here — STATIC LIVE SHOTS ARE NOT OK,” she wrote in another e-mail. “If you want some suggestions your management team is available with some ideas.”
Channel 5 spokesperson Ro Dooley Webster declined to comment, saying she doesn’t comment on internal communications.