Pre-Production for a News Feature or Investigative Report

News Wrap or News Feature: A news feature is a news wrap in the sense that it uses both a reporters voice and actuality.  Where as a news wrap or a news spot is extremely focused and covers only one idea, a feature or investigative report explores a topic in more depth.  Anything longer than three minutes is generally considered a feature.  Investigative reports and audio documentaries might run as long as thirty minutes or even an hour, taking up an entire radio program, but they certainly don’t have to be that long.  The producers at WPFW have typically asked for 10-minute audio segments.  Both features and investigative reports include ambient sound and multiple speakers.

Because features have the advantage of being longer and more in depth than news wraps, they have a longer shelf life and are more useful to a sustained campaign.   For this reason the Grassroots Media Project has focused on producing features.   News wraps tend to be time-sensitive and usually need to be completed and aired within a day or two of an event.   As students and producers pick up speed and are available, we hope to produce and air more news wraps.

The Three Phases of Production: Any media production can be broken into three broad phases, pre-production, production and post-production.  Pre-production is the planning phase when you decide what kind of story your going to tell and what you plan to do with it.  Production is when you gather your main elements by shooting video or recording audio.  Post-production is when you put your elements together, ideally in a manner that reflects the plan you put together during pre-production.

Each phase of production is important.  When pre-production is overlooked or ignored, you are less likely to get what you need to tell an effective story in production and you’ll run into real trouble during post-production.  The longer your piece, the more planning is necessary.  Students should be able to use the guidelines provided on the following pages to get through the pre-production of a news feature or investigative report.  The first step is choosing a topic, which is the next lesson in this tutorial.