Cameras move across the news floor automatically, 10 named screens--Alpha, Beta, Charlie, Red, Blue, Green; and videos that accompany stories set up well before the newscast. If you think this sounds like a futuristic newsroom, you're wrong--it's the NBC4 WRC newsroom today.
WRC's Matt Glassman, Manager of News, Press and Programming, provided a fascinating and educational tour of the WRC facility on April 3 for PRONet committee members and PRSA-NCC board members.
Located on Nebraska Ave in Northwest DC, just above American University, several oversized satellite disks line up as you enter the building. Inside, the building is larger than it looks with three floors or studios, offices and equipment.
Behind busy reporters and producers working on stories, is a large TV screen with website headlines and a number next to each headline indicating the popularity of the story on WRC's website. Every few seconds, the copy rotates, moving the headline with the #1 popularity appearing first on the TV screen. If a story trends high, the station often produces additional stories with different news angles related to the story.
Everyone from writers and producers working on stories, to meteorologist Tom Kierein as he prepared to go on-air, to the promotions department as we interrupted their morning meeting was welcoming and friendly. They stopped what they were doing to talk to us about how their department functions.
Glassman included some pitching tips:
- Only pitch feature stories during normal business hours. The overnight email pitch doesn’t really work anymore.
- The planning and assignment desk are your best resources.
- Look for how to localize a story and pitch what is going-on in the region. WRC now has a Prince George’s County and Northern Virginia bureaus.
While the mid-day newscast was live on-air, we tiptoed into the studio where we watched the automatic cameras roll into place and took photos of anchors Barbara Harrison and Keith Russell, and Kierein.
WRC is one of the only TV stations owned by the NBC network. Because of this affiliation, WRC is home to a few network programs and related network DC sets.
A large warehouse space houses the permanent set for Meet the Press. Surrounding the Meet the Press roundtable and the smaller one-on-one interview table, are floor to ceiling bookshelves. Matt explained that the books are either written by Meet the Press guests or related to guests of the program.
The shelves also include framed photographs of famous people including a few of Tim Russert--a quiet tribute to the former Meet the Press host.
In addition, the warehouse space is home to the MSNBC DC studio where programs such as Hardball are taped.
Thanks to Matt for such an enlightening behind the scenes look at a news studio.
Sheri Singer is the president of Singer Communications and serves on the PRSA-NCC board of directors as the liaison to the Association/Nonprofit Committee and on the PRSA-NCC's Independent PR Alliance. She also is on the American Society of Association Executive's Communications Section Council.