Observational techniques for stand-ups, ROSRs and live reporting
Stand-ups: Stand-ups are short bits of audio narrated and recorded at the scene that can be incorporated in a story to give listeners a sense of “being there” and a sense of the reporter’s impressions. They are best for describing action.
ROSR: (Pronounced ROSE-er) Abbreviation for “Radio On-Scene Report.” A first-person account of events which gives details, color and a visual sense of the scene. The ROSR is usually used in live reports, but can be incorporated in any story to give listeners a sense of “being there.”
Tip: Make notes or record yours impressions on the place/scene when you first get there while the place/scene are still completely fresh. What are the first things your eyes are drawn to.
• Spend about 10-15 minutes at the scene; look for details.
• Use specific and unbiased words to describe the scene:
◦ 1 inch instead of small
◦ Group of men in business suits instead of businessmen
◦ Smells like dead fish instead of smelly
• Use all of your senses; not just what you see and hear, but what you feel, smell and sense.
• Talk with people beforehand — know about what happens at that place, or what is going on at that scene, if it is developing news. Your conversations might give you a good line to use.
• Have concrete information about the place or scene. Get background info before your ROSR or live hit. Don’t say “I think” or “it appears.” Get the facts, figures, information and answers beforehand and back up what you saying.
• Take notes on what you see and what people are saying.
• Don’t make your ROSR a listing of things you see. For example, if you are at a food court, don’t just list the restaurants that are there, but give a sense of what’s happening in the space: Is it crowded? Which eateries are more popular? What the energy is like in the food court? Are there any food choices that are unusual? What’s the mix of people?
• Keep your eyes out for what’s dramatic, unusual, something that seems out of place perhaps, or everything as would be expected.
Don’t script the ROSR/standup. Jot down bullet points that you want to cover. Don’t memorize everything you are going to say or it will sound forced and unnatural. Have a firm grasp of the key points and look at your written bullet points to remind you about key points to hit.
Keep it simple. Don’t get into complicated numbers or technical information in a ROSR. Remember, it’s intended to be observational. Give more specific information in a script.
If you are covering the scene of a breaking news event:
— Emphasize the timely elements.
— Find witnesses; people who can describe what happened.