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Lights, Camera, News!

View more photos of Full Focus during production

In television news, it's sometimes a challenge to maintain authenticity. It's hard to make a daily shoot just about the story. After all, as soon as the lights come on and the cameras start rolling, both the reporters and the guests are often more concerned with how their hair looks than with what comes out of their mouths. I have to admit I am no exception to this rule. I think it's just natural to want to present one's self positively on TV. And even then, once the hair is set and the makeup done, you don't just conduct the interview. You have to make sure you get all the different shots you need to make it look good.

Earlier this month, Full Focus went on the road, leaving the KPBS studios for a week of field shoots. With so much equipment, it felt like a commercial shoot at times. I remember sitting across from one of my guests , an online reporter from the Voice of San Diego , for probably 25 minutes while the crew battled the sun to get the lighting right. I couldn't help but wonder what he was thinking as we were waiting. What would we talk about as we passed the time waiting for cameras to roll? How would this affect his comfort level and spontaneity during the interview?


At the end of the week, the outdoor surroundings did seem to have put guests at ease. I think the small studio and hot lights can feel oppressive at times, especially for guests unaccustomed to television. But whether it's in the studio or in the field, the question remains: Does the scale of television production affect the authenticity of the story? I think it would be difficult to argue that it didn't have some effect. Making the final product look good will always be important in such a visual medium. That's the job of the technical crew. But it's the reporter's job to help the people we interview forget about the imposing lights and cameras and just tell us their stories.

-- Heather Hill is a reporter for Full Focus . Please read our guidelines before posting comments.