Thinking of researching for a TV show?

Out of the many positions in TV pre-production, the post of researcher is one of the least applied. I do get one or two applicants every now and then, mostly from university graduates to come on board. Thing is, not many know what it takes to become a researcher for a television show. And I do look for mavericks in TV research on top of academic excellence.

Below are 7 tips in TV research:

  1. Do not comb everything. TV research is not a thesis. You need to pin-point your research to match the programme slant and target audience.
  2. Get a new angle to an old story. Easier said than done. Drop the first angle that pops up in your mind. That’s what everybody else is thinking of.
  3. Chart what you want to research on paper first. Don’t go crazy Googling the topic. There’s a kazillion things out there and you get lost in the net very quickly. Nothing beats pen and paper. Write down exactly what you are looking for. TV is a poor medium for details, so why search the big field when you can narrow your findings first.
  4. Think how much can a 23 minute TV programme contain. Then you realise you don’t have much to air. So your research better be pow-wow enough to make it on TV. If you break down a half-hour show, this is what you will get: 5 minutes of presenters links, 18 minutes of content. How much research materials can you squeeze? Not much. So if you are in doubt, leave it out.
  5. Don’t be afraid to change the slant of the TV programme. Sometimes researcher stumbles on a whole new angle that works better. Approach the producer and make your case.
  6. Roll your sleeves and do your ground work. Nothing beats talking to people who are experts in the field you are researching. You can’t be shy to meet people face-to-face. Get it done.
  7. Three words I live by when it comes to information I want to air on TV: Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy.

There are of course many other stuff too about TV research. I leave it you to find out when you get into it.

Message me if you keen to do freelance research. Happy Twenty Ten.


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