We often have to cover events as journalists. The event could be a protest, a festival or a convention. It might be outdoors or indoors. It could be happy or angry. Having a plan about how to cover an event is a good idea.

Remember, if you are planning to cover a demonstration or protest, you must talk to me about this in advance. You need to be safe when you cover these sort of events and that means adjusting the risk assessment.

Here is a checklist of things to do when you’re covering an event.

  • Make contact with the organiser(s) of the event.
  • Check that you are OK to cover the event. If it is a paid event, you will need to make sure you can get in without having to pay an entrance fee. Ask if it’s OK for you to film and/or record audio at the event.
  • Check if there is anything it’s not OK to film. For example, some musicians make it a condition of performing that they aren’t filmed by the media.
  • Make sure you arrange to interview the organiser of the event.
  • At the event itself, use your eyes and ears. Get lots (and lots) of shots and lots of sound. For pictures, think logically. For example, you should get a shot of the event sign and some shots of people arriving and walking through the doors or onto the site. These shots will be a logical way to start the package.
  • Remember to shoot a variety of shot sizes — not just wide shots. Look at what’s happening and try to get some joined-up sequences of shots rather than just montage. For example, if there are food stalls shoot an action sequence of some food being cooked.
  • Get plenty close-ups and plenty of faces.
Pic: Junior Machado
  • Make sure you get lots of natural sound. If people are making speeches, make sure you get a minute or two of a speech (from one position, so the audio is consistent). You don’t necessarily need to record all of it. Make sure you get cutaway shots of the crowd clapping, cheering and listening.
  • Interview the organiser of the event. Don’t forget to film a set-up shot/sequence.
  • (If some people might object to the event you should try to interview them too.)
  • Vox pop people who are attending the event.
  • If one of the vox pops is particularly good or has an interesting story about why he/she is there, consider making it a longer interview and getting a set-up sequence or shot with them.
  • Think about getting an interview with one of the speakers or performers at the event. Don’t forget to film a set-up shot/sequence.
  • Do a Piece to Camera or audio location link. Put yourself at the scene.

Here’s a simple radio package covering an event. It’s a sporting event. An Australian woman has just swam across the English Channel for the 44th time, breaking the world record. Notice the natural sound at the start of the package and the lovely soundbite.

Channel Swimmer package

Here is a downloadable checklist of things to do when you’re covering events or generally setting up interviews: