NARDI’S NEWSTIPS VOLUME ONE: A Conversation With Network TV Producer Beth Sullivan

SAMSUNG CSCI am thrilled to announce a new monthly series on the blog where we interview a member of the press about his/her job, the constant changing face of the news media, media trends, what it takes to get placed in the media, and much more. I have a deep passion for connecting experts, authors, academia, entrepreneurs, influencers, and change makers with members of the press (it’s why I do what I do), and part of that is making sure everyone has a clear understanding of how the news media works, and how it is changing.

Hence, the birth of Nardi’s Newstips!

I was delighted when my dear friend Beth Sullivan agreed to be featured as our first journalist in our inaugural series.  Beth is a freelance TV producer who has worked for both local and cable news outlets.

I always love hearing where fellow news journalists get their own news, and how they have personally seen news changes over the years. I know you’ll find great value in Beth’s insights!

NM: What are the ingredients to a perfect pitch?

BETH: One of the most important things is to tailor a pitch to a show’s format. If the show’s interviews only run about 3 minutes, it’s important to boil down the essence of the pitch into a few sentences, to show the booker it’s a story that can be told in a short interview format.

NM: What are your favorite types of stories and/or topics to cover?

BETH: I always love something with a “surprising” fact, or something that goes against a stereotype. Ashley sent me a great pitch about how charitable giving was on the rise, and that millennials were the most generous. I enjoyed how the study countered the “selfish millennial” label.

NM: What has been your favorite or most memorable story to produce in your journalism career?

BETH: I don’t have a particular story, but I got my start as a booker for a cable morning show and it was a blast! Morning show staffs work odd hours and long days but I had so much fun and learned a lot along the way.    

NM: What do you love most about your job?

BETH: The people! I’ve had the pleasure working with amazing journalists. I have met some of the most brilliant and funny people in this industry. When you work long hours and holidays together, it makes you even more grateful for the one who make you laugh.

NM: What does it take for someone to get booked as an expert on TV?

BETH: My favorite experts are the ones who can take a complicated issue and explain it in a few sentences.

NM: What do you wish the general public had a better understanding about the news business and how it works?

BETH: I wish there was a better understanding of how tight our deadlines can be.  Often when I’m looking for a guest, it’s for an interview that day.  I once had a guest say she “needed a day to think about it” when I reached out. It was a day-of story, so we ended up interviewing someone else.  

NM: What factors go into deciding whether or not you’d like to book a guest?

BETH:My first concern is whether someone is comfortable on camera, so I try to find clips of the guest. If there aren’t any web videos of past TV appearances, I’ll scan YouTube for clips of the guest speaking in promotional videos or at events.  Another thing I look for is location. I know it can seem like a silly logistical concern, but having a guest near a bureau or satellite studio is a big help, especially in breaking news scenarios.

NM: Where do you get your news?

BETH: I get my news from traditional online sources, but I also read through the comments section of trending stories. Although there are some off-topic and unsavory comments, every now and then you’ll see a comment of “why isn’t the media talking about ___”  or “something like this happened in my school/town/industry” and I find that it’s a great way to see the story from a different angle, or get perspective on a trending issue.  

NM: How have you seen the news business change in the last five years? Where do you think it is headed?

BETH: I know this seems like an obvious one, but social media has become a big part in breaking news. Sometimes the first photos of a breaking news event are from a Twitter account. Social media can be a great tool for getting updates, but I still think sometimes the best way to get the story is by picking up the phone.