A long day at Gray’s Inn
Yesterday seven of us from City University’s Broadcast Journalism course had an “operational visit” to ITN‘s headquarters at Gray’s Inn Road in central London. For those who are unfamiliar, ITN produces daily television news for ITV and Channel 4 in the UK, and – as IRN – radio for hundreds of commercial stations across the country.
It’s paid for as part of our course, and it was an absolute highlight of the year so far. The seven of us turned up bleary eyed at 8am and were met by Richard, a senior producer and our guide for the day.
We got to sit in on the daily planning meeting where all the senior editors get together to bash out the days news. No surprise what was on the agenda yesterday, with Alexander Litvinenko’s death the obvious lead.*
The rest of the day was split between watching ITV News in action, sitting in the gallery during the Lunchtime and Evening news programmes, and getting our hands dirty with some journalistic exercises.
Richard had us debating the running order and writing copy for short “ulays” (short pieces of footage you see on screen while a presenter talks, usually during a ‘news in brief’ segment). With access to ITN’s huge archive of source material and their editing software we wrote and edited a short package on the Australian fires, which Richard then critiqued.
He was an excellent teacher and I learned loads about writing to picture and how to use your pictures creatively.
It was great seeing ITV News in action as well; with Michael Stone storming Stormont (the alliteration rolls of the tongue) less than an hour before the Lunchtime News went on air, it was chaos in the gallery but the team pulled it together without anyone at home noticing.
I’ve always kind of ignored ITV News in the past, dismissing it as popularist and tabloid. If yesterday showed me anything its that ITV News writes better and uses pictures more creatively than its rivals.
*Bizarre story of the day: three weeks ago, a talk was held at City Uni about the tragic death of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Due to talk was her friend, Alexander Litvinenko, but he pulled out at the last minute – due to illness.