Skype allows you to do live news interviews from anywhere!

Skype allows you to do live news interviews from anywhere!

Using Skype for Live TV News Interviews

Many television newsrooms are using Skype video chat to interview newsmakers. It enables stations to air a live interview in cases where sending a live truck, or having a newsmaker come to the station, might not be possible or practical.

Sacramento County Public Health used Skype during the H1N1 epidemic. It can be a time-saver, as you do not have to send the subject matter expert to the station, or deal with having a live truck at your office, and you can schedule interviews close together to maximize your time and schedule.

The quality is not as good as the live feed a station might receive from a microwave or satellite truck, but it can be quite acceptable. Stations often will "squeeze" the shot, putting it side-by-side with the news anchor, to improve the perceived quality of the picture by reducing the overall size of the image.

How do you get started with Skype? Here's what you need:

-A place to do the interview that is quiet and has good lighting. You may wish to purchase a couple of video lights and some T-bar ceiling mounts (assuming you have a drop ceiling that has T-bars!) to mount the lights.

-At a minimum, a laptop computer with a built-in webcam that is on a fast Internet connection. Another possibility is a desktop computer that has an LCD monitor containing a built-in webcam. Dell and HP both offer monitors with webcams. You can also buy a separate webcam that can mount to the top of your monitor and connect to the computer via USB. The highest-quality option is to use a good tripod-mounted DV cam (digital video camera) that has a firewire output on it, paired with a laptop or desktop computer with a firewire input on it. An external DV camera will be of much higher quality than an inexpensive web camera. You may already have a camera in your existing video equipment that is right for the job.

-Audio is critical as well. Do not use the built-in microphone on the computer or monitor for your audio. You need to purchase an external broadcast microphone and an adaptor that allows you to interface it with the computer's USB port. The Shure X2u XLR-to-USB adaptor costs $99 and is an outstanding, inexpensive device to convert virtually any broadcast microphone to a USB computer microphone. Pair the Shure unit with a $129  Audio Technica AT803B lavalier (clip-on) microphone, and you will have a professional TV microphone setup that is of high quality.