Briefing Notes: ITV News
Michael Herrod is the Head of Foreign News at ITV News. At the IBT Briefing, he explained the structure at ITN – it produces the news for ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, the ITV current affairs show On Assignment and ITN Productions make a large number of documentaries for a range of broadcasters. Michael is only responsible for ITV News and On Assignment.
There are three bulletins – lunch time, early evening and News at Ten. Early evening has the biggest audience (4m) then the Ten (2m) then the lunch time (1m). Don’t forget large numbers of people are still watching live TV even if most of us are not. Most of the foreign news is for the Ten. The early evening news bulletin has a predominantly domestic focus. Each bulletin has a different audience. The Ten is more upmarket and the audience has a female skew. The online offering is becoming increasingly important – they will run pieces from the bulletins or cut their own versions or sometimes run extra content that you can’t see on the TV. The online audience is younger and more diverse. Diversity is a big issue for ITN – on and off the screen.
Although Michael works with the other ITN foreign editors, each commissions their own content. All ITV News stories will be presented by an ITV News reporter – the same applies to On Assignment. On the Ten a story may run for 3-4 minutes but occasionally they are much longer. They recently ran 6 minutes on Mosul. The Ten is running a higher proportion of international stories than Channel 4 News. Washington is big and they will cover all the major foreign stories – such as Rohingya. They will also try and do their own stories – for example they have a series of reports coming from the DRC. And last year they made a major commitment to cover stories from east Africa on the threat of famine, under the banner of ‘fighting famine.’ There was a deliberate decision taken to highlight this part of the world and to go back several times.
How charities can work with ITV News
Michael is keen to work with NGOs and has a positive view of the work they do. They can help with access – UNICEF worked with him on the DRC story. They have multiple entry visas for the DRC so they will be going back later in the year.
His key message to NGOs was – ‘let us know early.’ If you’re publishing a report give him lots of notice. If you have the germ of an idea, phone or email him. He’s happy to receive formal pitches or informal suggestions of stories he should look at. He uses NGOs as part of his intelligence gathering. Tell him what’s going on that he may not know about.
He’s happy to receive video that you’ve shot although it rarely makes it to screen unless it is based on access that he can’t get. But if you have someone going somewhere to shoot video, tell him in advance so that he can help steer the content.
If he works with you on a story he will do his best to namecheck your organisation or interview one of your local staff.
If you’re pitching, a peg is useful, but not essential. But do think of the practicalities of what you’re pitching – can a crew gain access, is there something to film now?
Future trips – he’s looking at the Arctic, Somalia, Somaliland, mosquitoes in Thailand/Oman, Syria, Venezuela.
Michael showed a couple of clips of reports that had run on the Ten – John Ray from South Sudan on the prospects of famine (March 2017) and Neil Connery from the Yemeni port of Aden on diphtheria (November 2017). The Yemeni film was made in conjunction with MSF.
This is a monthly current affairs show on ITV that features three reports in a half hour episode. It’s presented by Rageh Omaar and all the reporters are from ITV News. It’s a great opportunity for NGOs as it will run off agenda pieces and return to stories that have hit the headlines. The next run of six starts on May 14 and it is fully commissioned. But they are now looking at the Autumn run. These reports are planned well in advance. They do a lot in the US and Europe as these are cheaper to do. But a good number are filmed elsewhere and they cover a whole range of issues. On Assignment airs after the Ten and wins its slot against Newsnight.
Michael showed one example of a report from On Assignment. Debi Edward reported from Bali on the way in which mentally ill people in Indonesia are shackled. A cut down of the OA piece ran on the Ten.
All ideas for ITV News and On Assignment should go to Michael. However, if you do have a relationship with a correspondent in London or abroad, then of course talk to him/her. But Michael will have a better overview of what is in the pipeline and who’s doing what.
Michael.email@example.com Head of Foreign News, ITV News. Direct line – 020 7430 4411