The importance of follow-up questions

News conferences are part of every journalist’s work life. Some reporters can’t go a week without covering several–largely because the newsmakers on their beat hold group sessions regularly but rarely schedule one-on-ones.

It’s not easy to get good material from a news conference, but some journalists are skilled at it. What’s their secret? Good follow-ups.

Bob Holt (above right, in blue shirt) covers sports for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and is known as the king of the follow-up. If he doesn’t get a good answer to a question, “he’ll ask it three or four different ways,” Ron Higgins of the New Orleans Times-Picayune told  

There’s a fine line between pressing for an answer and just hogging time, but Holt appears to have avoided alienating his colleagues by combining a “folksy Midwest charm and aggressive interviewing methods.”

People kind of make fun of me for, I don’t know, wearing people down. I’m not comparing myself to [late CBS newsman] Mike Wallace at all, but if you ask someone enough questions … I just have a natural curiosity that I think every reporter should have. I just like to ask questions.

Those questions are carefully researched and planned, and that’s the real key to Holt’s success. He also packs a lot of confidence and doesn’t take it personally when a coach takes offense at a question.

My thing is if a coach will give me access, then I don’t mean he can kick me in the face or anything, but if I have access, I don’t mind a coach unloading on me. As long as there’s a give and take to it. As a matter of fact, a lot of times it can be pretty healthy.

After more than 30 years on the sports beat, Holt has earned the right to ask more than one follow-up. The next time you cover a news conference, take note of the best answers and then look at the question that led to the answer. There’s an art to asking productive questions, and it can be learned.


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They See Me Rollin…

How NOT to get ahead in broadcasting: be seen yukking it up in a station vehicle. Just ask the putz driving the news cruiser recently seen losing a race at the Albuquerque Dragway (a slash of asphalt presumably reachable only after one left turn).

UPDATE! Web sources reveal the news crew was actually shooting a feature story on drag racing and, ahem, needed point of view footage! That changes EVERYTHING! Still, do as I do and keep it chill behind the wheel. That way you'll be around to drop knowledge on a generation of news nerds, instead of rushing headlong into such a brazen career move. Remember...

Seven Good Reasons NOT to Drag Race That News Car. 

7.) Two Words: Condiment dislodgement. Even if you do make it to Victory Lane, you'll surely be slathered in petrified ketchup, Starbucks stir sticks and dozens of unread press releases.

6.) Those door stickers are only rated for 70 MPH. Lose 'em and you'll have to explain to your News Director why the custom wrap job he had to pay for out of his budget is now draped across a scarecrow outside Meth Valley Mobile Home Park.

5.) Top out in fourth gear and that dealer recall your station didn't tell you about is gonna cause the windshield to implode.  You'll know when it happens...

4.) Take home whatever women is impressed with THAT performance and that video below won't be the only thing only going viral.

3.) No one ever made anchor after getting caught racing news units. Well, there was that one dude.

 2.) Eighteen seconds of dragway adulation isn't worth losing the chance to work every single holiday for the rest of your life. Or is it?

And finally, the Number One Reason NOT to Drag Race That News Car...

1.)  It ain't yours.

Lens help BMPCC

Getting a Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera with Metabones Speedbooster.
Thinking of the Nikon mount although I am starting from scratch with lenses so Leica or Cannon are options.

Never been more than an amateur still photographer so limited knowledge on models. Any suggestions weighing price and performance?

Station’s “How To” YouTube channel for photogs

Just passing this along in case it could help anyone. I recently brought up in our meeting the idea of producing instructional videos for photogs in the field to refer to for refreshers or for new photogs to learn. I was given the task of producing and maintaining the channel. The first four videos are uploaded. Keep in mind these are intended for KWTV photogs but could apply to any photogs who use P2 and Avid. All of this is directed with news, not production, in mind.

Hell to Quell

And so begins a NEW chapter in The Book of Lenslinger, in which our elusive news shooter sheds his street cred for a peek at the bigger picture...


Weathered SlingerWhen last I left you, my head was in a fog. Some days, it still is. But if eighteen months of lurching uncertainty have taught me anything, it's that 'Living in the Past' is a better Jethro Tull album than recipe for glee. Ya feel me? Probably not. Doesn't matter. I'm writing for myself these days. When I'm writing at all. Once upon a time, frothy blather dripped from my every pore and formed unsettled puddles of snark.

No more. Now, I struggle with where to begin and how to end. What gives? I use to dry-fart shiny passages while waiting for stoplights to change. Hell, I once sneezed an entire thesis while ordering take-out! These days, I can't so much as scribble a grocery list without struggling over tone. What gives? Why can a guy who used to churn out words at a dizzying clip find himself unable to jot down a web address without hours of soul-searching? It's simple, really....


If you can't understand how such a thing can affect one's literary output, you've obviously never had your soul stepped on.  I have - the day my beautiful wife announced she didn't want to be my beautiful wife anymore. To say it shook me to the core is underselling it. I curled up into a fetal ball and wept for the better part of a year. After a great deal of wallowing, I got up off that floor and followed some of the smartest people I knew straight down the interstate. That's right, if the collapse of a twenty-three year marriage wasn't enough personal upheaval, I decided to leave a job I truly loved. Which is why you'll find me ninety minutes south of the Piedmont, thrusting lenses into the hands of Millennials and pleading for a little sequencing. You guessed it...

I turned house-cat.

Officially, my title is 'News Operations Manager'. It's a lofty appellation, alright, but after seven months of equipping young journalists with all the tools of television, it's one I'm comfortable with. And now that I'm seemingly secure in my new surroundings, I'd like to get back to writing again. 'About what?' you ask. TV News, of course. It's what I've always written about and for the past half  year I've been preaching my prose to a collection of twenty-somethings - most of whom have never even heard of 'Lenslinger'. I'd like to change that and this long-delayed blog post is the first wobbly step in that direction...

So join me, won't you, in my renewed efforts to get my mojo back. I greatly appreciate all the reader e-mail I've received - even the ones calling me a coward for staying quiet so long. I have no idea where this blog will go next, but I can assure you, it's going somewhere. The tone may change, the bitterness will surely fade - but I promise you I'll call it like I see it (at least as much as I can I can while staying employed). Whether or not you'll join me remains to be seen, but in the end it doesn't matter. A writer's gotta write, a bird's gotta sing and this bruised news shooter simply has to run his mouth on-line.

Stay tuned...

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