Behind the Scenes: how three reporters in three cities worked together on one daily turn story

Tegna sent some of its best local reporters to assist KHOU in Houston to cover the big story of former President Bush’s casket being returned to Texas for burial.  Watch the story, then read below.

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Boyd Huppert from KARE 11 in Minneapolis explained how it all came together:

Matt Pearl gets credit for throwing out the challenge.

He ran it past KHOU as we were all arriving in Houston on Tuesday – Chris & Chris from Denver, Matt from Atlanta and Devin and me from Minneapolis.

The five of us talked about it briefly over dinner Tuesday night. We discussed structure (should it be linear or non-linear?) and the need to make it feel cohesive, as opposed to three separate stories cobbled together.

Chris, Matt and I decided to each write the bones of a possible script – then compare notes Wednesday morning as we embarked on other independent stories.

We met again Thursday morning, and settled on the rail theme to give us structure. We decided each team would pick one character in their assigned location – and produce two short segments. The first segment would introduce viewers to the character and the second segment would focus entirely on the train’s arrival and our character’s reaction to it. We also agreed on a list of several “must gets,” including signage to help convey location, rail shots to help carry the theme, multiple shots of the train’s arrival (fortunately all the photographers and Matt, who works as an MMJ, had the foresight to pack multiple cameras) and the standup elements.

On the standup, we felt it was important to establish clearly to our viewers this story was being reported by three different reporters. The standup just seemed like the most efficient way to do it. Beyond that, we stayed in constant contact throughout our shoots via group text – sharing our characters and, in some cases, frustrations.

After the train had passed, We all met up at a Chick-fil-A in Spring and began writing and editing our individual segments. We settled on 30 seconds each for the first segment and 20 for the second – to stay within the 4 minute time limit KHOU had generously given us. Devin built a couple versions of the stand-up, Chris edited the open and the close and just before 9 pm started putting the edited segments together.

We did some last minute tweaking and were ready to feed at roughly 9:30 pm for KHOU’s 10 pm show.

We all agreed afterward we never would have attempted this without our respect for, and trust in, each other. Yet, we were still scared to death the entire time. But, hey, a little fear is good! We are grateful to the managers at KHOU who trusted us with this. We love the TEGNA commitment to big stories that brought us all together from our bases in Denver, Atlanta and Minneaplolis to help tell this one. KHOU’s staff gets huge credit for doing a remarkable job of their own during continuous coverage.



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