Snow-go on Route 29: Snow Reporting Guide

[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0KXvOpgyR4%5D

Reporting on snow doesn’t really get easier.

It’s fun to tell the snow stories. It’s not as fun to be out in the ~32-degree weather all day long. (Although, in hindsight, it is.)

This week, the first major storm of the winter hit Central Virginia. Snow accumulation was inches less than what was anticipated, but the impact was still great.

On top of the couple inches, the temperatures over the coming days would border freezing — making overnight lows in the low teens or single digits. Therefore, anything that would stick would likely freeze.

Of course, the average viewer may already know this. So to make a standup as engaging as possible… what to do?

Liveshots can be tricky. In this market, more times than not, you’re standing outside City Hall previewing a council meeting, or reporting outside the courthouse for a trial that’s extended into the newscast hour.

My liveshot for this story had the potential to be similar to that. I could’ve played traffic reporter and said, “Here are current road conditions.” That’s what I’ve done in the past, and I partially did it here. But as I stood in place for my liveshot at 5 p.m., I noticed I wasn’t making any tracks in the snow on the sidewalk.

Opportunity.

My old news director taught me to make every liveshot count. Do something memorable. Do something that shows something. So in this case, a simple demonstration came in handy. A brush of the snow, a point to the sidewalk, done.

For last year’s snow coverage, I went out the night before and bought myself rulers and a dry-erase board. I used neither. Instead, I gave a shoveling demonstration.

What I’ve learned is to let the environment tell the story. Preparing for these things has rarely helped me. And I’ve also learned that one of my strengths, I believe, is winging it. My notes for a liveshot are generally a scattered, illegible outline of bullet points to hit.

(Much easier for a story like this than a reporting on a trial, though.)

Since I keep it simple, I can wear my gloves without having to worry about flipping a page in a notebook.

I had a blast traveling along Interstate 64 and Route 29 to gather video for this story. I’m glad I found a unique angle (the tease ahead to the 6 p.m. newscast in the video above is what I’m talking about).

And I’m glad the latest winter storm along the northeast will not impact us so my hands and feet can continue to thaw.

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