It’s a sad but true hurdle about working as a TV news reporter:
People act differently — often way so — when they know they are being recorded.
Generally, this rears its head when trying to gather information on touchy subjects. Sources and contacts will often divulge far more after an interview than during it, and they feel much freer to provide information when they know they will not be taped saying it.
(This happens before interviews as well. Journalists everywhere can recall countless times when they spoke with someone on the phone, received valuable insight or information, and then asked that person to say the same thing in an on-camera interview, only to be told, “Whoa, whoa … I can’t say that on camera.”)
But the gaze of the lens does not just affect a story’s flow of information. It affects a story’s flow of emotion.
People get nervous or hesitant for a whole host of reasons once they know they will be recorded. For the most part, they simply do not have experience with having their actions documented, and often they respond by behaving how they feel they “should” behave, instead of how they genuinely want to behave.
For storytellers like myself who specialize in emotional stories, this creates a giant challenge.
But when you surmount that challenge and capture genuine emotion — and put your viewers in a position to appreciate that emotion — you feel tremendous about what you can achieve in this business.