It’s a sight that takes my breath away. Not in a good way. Every morning they sit there, stacked perfectly, just waiting for me to rifle through, Sharpie-to-death and quickly file into the black rubber basket next to my chair. News scripts have a come a long way. They used to spit out from a massive printing machine in triplicate form. As an anchor early in my career, I remember squinting at them trying to decipher the news of the day. Today, it’s somewhat the same. Laser printers zip out stack upon stack. The ink prints off the page, in cryptic lines or not at all. Either way, the stack’s height is always the same.
When I reach the anchor desk at 4:57 a.m. the first thing I see is the massive stack. War and Peace, us newsies joke. Two hours of little news stories typed up, edited, loved and ready for launch. Ever so slowly the stack shrinks. And after a few leg stretches, a restroom break and dance move in front of our Meteorologist Chris Nallan in an attempt to make him screw up, the stack is gone and life is glorious once again.
One station has figured it out. All the talk about saving the world and greening up everything with the slightest bit of color may have led to the idea of using an iPad to replace the War and Peace. Check out this story in Al’s Morning Meeting on Poynter Online. I’ve syphoned story ideas from Mr. Tompkins for years. The least I can do is send him a little link juice (website nerdspeak, sorry).
WFXL-TV in Albany, Ga., has just switched to iPads from paper scripts. To change pages, anchors just swipe their fingers across the screen.
As an AppleHead (has that word been coined yet?), I love Mac products and support the iPad. I can watch my Minnesota Twins before bed, I can read books when I feel like I just haven’t processed and pronounced enough words in any given day and I can email. I can enjoy. It makes sense to put it on the anchor desk.
I’ve never tried reading actual news scripts from an iPad. But a few things make sense. It would save trees and, therein, save cash. It saves the morning torment of War and Peace as it’s filed down into a sleek, welcoming sheet of happiness.
The downfalls? Well, batteries are always an issue…but keep them tethered to their AC plug if it’s a concern. And the battery is 10 hours strong. I guess you could slide the finger a bit too far to scroll past your spot. There’s nothing worse than losing your place in your scripts and having the TelePromTer crap out. Just wing it, I say. And converting the scripts to actually work on the iPad seems like the biggest headache. Here is how the ND at the station solves it as explained in Al’s Morning Meeting:
“We interface the iPads with AP News Center. We print scripts from AP using a freeware PDF print driver and e-mail it to each host iPad e-mail account. We use the iAnnotate apps for this procedure, which costs about $7. The challenge was finding the appropriate app to successfully navigate the scripts in an intuitive way, allowing the anchors and support staff to retain their natural flow of how they use scripts. An unexpected benefit is a greater sense of connectivity, and it also brings those using the iPads much closer to information. All information sources are at their fingertips at all times, literally.”
I say it’s a great idea. I’m all for embracing technology, especially if it has a half-chewed apple gracing the exterior. iPads are also being used as TelePromTers in the field. So what’s next?
I don’t know. But if the iPad can put a little peace into War and Peace, I’m all for it.