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69 News behind the scenes: Putting a newscast together

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 13 2013 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 14 2013 05:50:37 PM CST

Ever wonder how we bring you the news each night?

Ever wonder how we bring you the news each night?  We're pulling the curtain back to let you see 69 News behind the scenes. 

"3, 2, 1..."

It's "T-Minus 5" in the WMFZ Control Room -- just seconds to go before the 6:00 news goes live.

If this was an orchestra, Brett Schutter would be its conductor.

"Standby [Camera] Two, Rob's mic."

He navigates an endless maze of buttons, machines, and monitors.

"Everything will come through here," said Schutter.  "All cameras, graphics, sound."

But this newscast is actually the end of the day for the man who put it all together, producer Dan Rinkus.  Dan's day starts early, at our morning editorial meeting.  By 10 a.m., he is already putting together the 6:00 news.

"We generally write the bulk of the show and decide how it runs and what runs where, and what the viewers see and what kind of graphics they're looking at," said Rinkus.  "So it's a pretty important job.  It's not one people see a lot of, but it's a good one to have."

But news can no longer wait until 6:00.  While reporter crews are heading out in the field, web producer Nancy Dougherty is already posting news to our website, Twitter, and Facebook -- as it happens.

"If a wreck happens or an accident or a fatal, we hear about, you have to be ready to move right then," she said, "because your competitors will be doing the same thing."

The technology we use has also changed dramatically.  For instance, forget paper.  Our news anchors now use iPads to read their scripts.  Reporters also used tablets to write scripts in the field.

And those lumbering live vans we've used since the 1970s are gradually getting replaced by backpacks that use cell phone signals to bring you live reports from almost anywhere.

Also gone?  Videotape.  Today, stories are shot on data cards and edited on laptops.

"So much has changed over the last number of years," said longtime WFMZ meteorologist Ed Hanna.

Those changes certainly includes how we forecast the weather.

"You'd go all the way back to the time when [weather maps] would be hand drawings," said Hanna.  "And then, when it came along, to have the magnets on a metal board."

Today, our meteorologists stand in front of a green screen.  Their images are superimposed onto computerized maps that can take hours to create.

"We put it together, and then often times, after we put it together, we change or tweak," said Hanna.

Back in the newsroom, the rundown Dan Rinkus has been working on all day can suddenly go out the window at the last minute.

"You'll have something happen, whether it's a homicide or a car accident," he said.  "There are times when you've literally just told an anchor or a reporter something in their ear.  It's all very dramatic, and then when it gets on the air, it's just another story."

So the next time you tune into "just another story," you'll know all the conductors who put this finely tuned symphony on the air.