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Last Updated: Friday, 26 November, 2004, 15:43 GMT
Live reports 'often essential'
By Ian Jolly
Series Producer, NewsWatch

A bugbear of some viewers is why TV correspondents have to report "live from the scene" instead of the studio. News 24 evening editor Marek Pruszewicz says it's justified - most of the time.

An outside broadcast truck
Satellite trucks are not always necessary for outside broadcasts

It's late, it's dark, it's wet. The streets are empty. There are better places to be - such as a warm TV studio.

So why do we regularly see TV correspondents doing live reports from outside locked, uninhabited buildings?

"Surely," wrote one viewer, "it would be more cost-effective for the BBC news presenter to interview a reporter in the studio, thus remaining live without the expense of sending a whole team out on location."

Others say that because satellite technology has opened up new possibilities, outside broadcasts shouldn't be used all the time, regardless of whether they add anything to the story or not.

Live reports

As a non-stop news channel, News 24 relies heavily on live reports.

Evening editor Marek Pruszewicz agrees it's not always the most effective way of covering a story.

If we did every single shot inside the studio or every live on the set, it would quickly look very dull and very boring
Marek Pruszewicz

"We talk about this quite a lot and I would be the first to admit that some of the time when we do this we could be doing them in the studio," he says.

"But in most cases I don't think we could."

There are often sound editorial reasons why a reporter is in a remote location - for instance, that's where they have been working.

"I'm a bit old-fashioned in my journalism and I think the best way to gather facts is talking to people face-to-face rather than on a telephone," says Marek.

"A lot of the time that's what these journalists and correspondents are doing and quite often they don't have a studio to go to."

But he concedes there can be times when the location used for a report simply looks odd.

"I would readily admit that doing a live from the City on a Sunday night, when nobody has been in the City for two days, is best avoided," says Marek.

Satellite truck

Clearly providing live coverage of a news story involves some cost, but Marek points out that in a lot of cases, the technology is already in place.

Former BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond
Most live reports are essential as reporters are working at the scene

"For somewhere like Downing Street we have a box to plug the camera into so there's no need to send a satellite truck and the huge expense that might incur," he explains.

"There still has to be a cameraman there, but there's a cameraman on duty anyway in case there's a late breaking story."

Viewers who comment on outside broadcasts often cite the BBC's political editor, Andrew Marr.

He can often be seen outside Downing Street or the Houses of Parliament yet the BBC has a perfectly good remote studio at Westminster.

"The outside shot is frankly nicer and better and different," says Marek.

"If we did every single shot inside the studio or every live on the set, it would quickly look very dull and very boring.

"It is, after all, television."


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