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  • Writer's pictureIndiaLily

My first time on screen with ITV News

I recently got in front of the camera to produce a piece with ITV News West Country. I’ve previously done pieces that have gone on air, but you’ve only ever heard me. This time you see me (doing something quite different too, but we'll get to that later).

As a production journalist the regular shifts don’t include ending up on tele. Check out a rundown of what I do day-to-day here.

We are the ones that work behind the scenes to get the programme on air. However, if you bring a good story to producers and they give you the green light, we are given the chance to work on our own stuff.

This is something I never really thought would be an option when I first joined ITV, but they are so encouraging if you want to do something a bit different and push yourself.

Back in January I was chatting away in the newsroom about lambing back on the farm in Yorkshire, I’ve grown up doing it which often sparks interest from townies. 

My head of news came over and asked me more about it. He couldn’t believe I actually delivered the lambs myself. The conversation continued until he asked if I’d do a piece for the show. Rather than the usual TV lambing piece, we wanted to do something where I could show the viewer how it all works, using the experience I have. 

Of course I jumped at this opportunity. Marrying up something I’ve done since I was young, and doing it on tele?! Yes please. 

Step 1: Planning 

First I took my plan to the weekly ideas meeting. This is where producers hear your idea, you map out how it will look and what you’ll cover, and then they either commision it or they don’t. They loved the idea, so the next step was finding a willing farmer. 

As with any story, it’s all about contacts. Social media is often the answer to this. Eventually I found Rosie Bloor, a farmer in Somerset. She did a lot of instagramming for her daily life on the farm (farming_with_rosie) and was happy to be part of the piece. I pitched my ideas to her and we got a date booked in. 

We have a new platform called ITVX which allows longer pieces to be created, like an extension of the show. Usually you spend a day filming and a day editing for pieces like this, which can be up to 10 minutes. My brief was to do a longer piece for ITVX, and then a shorter version for the programme.

Step 2: Filming 

This was so fun. I’d planned out various shots I wanted and what elements I wanted to include in the piece, so it was a case of ticking them off the list and hoping the sheep would do what I wanted. 

A piece to camera (PTC) is when you see the reporter talking directly to the camera. Sometimes you don’t need them to tell a story, but in this case I felt I needed to explain my farming background in order for the piece to make sense.

This was quite scary at first because other than during some work experience at uni, I’d never done a PTC before. It took me a few takes to relax into it (and find a lamb chilled out enough for me to hold during the filming) but in the end it was great.

There was a moment when I felt it was all going wrong. The weather was HORRENDOUS for the first half of the day, and then all the sheep decided they wouldn’t give birth.

We got to the point where the camera operator (Clare) had to go but we still needed a delivery to finish off the piece. At this point I was questioning whether it was all going to be a flop.

Thankfully after some waiting around, one of the sheep showed signs of labour and we didn’t take our eyes of her until I stepped in to her deliver two healthy lambs. This was lucky too because I didn’t want to lamb her just because I wanted it for the piece, I needed her to need me to lamb her.

Everything all worked out in the end though and by late afternoon, I had everything I needed to create the piece.

Step 3: Editing

Once the filming is all done it’s back to the newsroom for the editing process. 

I work by creating a storyboard listing the shot I want, and the script - whether that’s voice over, a PTC, an interview, or just natural sound. This means when I actually start going through the footage, I know what I want and in what order. 

Usually, a reporter will film in the morning, edit in the afternoon, and then it’s on the programme that night. You have to work quick.

Although on this occasion I had a day to edit for it to go on air the following week, I still wanted to get into the good habit of working as efficiently as possible.

Once I had my plan and all the footage on the system, it’s just a case of editing. It’s a process I find really rewarding because of how quickly you see everything come together. 

Extra bits to do

As well as a longer piece for ITVX and a shorter version for the programme, I also needed to create a 20-second version that would run in breakfast and lunch, a digital copy, and a version for Instagram.


My piece went out when I was on a day shift, so technically I should have left at 5.30pm, but I wanted to stick around for our end-of-day debrief to hear what everyone thought. 

The reaction I got was amazing. So many people praised me in the debrief, and came up to me in the days that followed to let me know how much they loved the piece. It was so much better than I was expecting. 

For this to be my first time on screen is something I’ll never forget. Although my long-term aim is still to become a top producer behind the scenes, I do love doing these bits for the programme too. The variety of this job is exactly why I wanted to be a journalist in the first place, and I’m still pinching myself that this is my reality to be honest. 

Watch out for my next piece which is a look at the British wool industry, a bit more of a serious one but something I really enjoyed exploring…


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