7 Tricks TV News Producers Use to Make Computers Exciting

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Headphone-less, I was reduced to watching CNN with the sound off as I ran in the swampy basement of the Watergate. It's a weird experience being forced to concentrate on the "cinematography" of the news network, such as it is.

But it approaches surreal when anything computery comes on. Not that I blame the TV news guys: Someone sitting at a computer is one of the least telegenic events on Earth, and yet that exact activity often requires news coverage. What's a producer to do?! Maybe try faking it.

Here are seven tricks we've noticed TV news crews using that make working on a computer seem as fun as a spin through a house on MTV Cribs.

Imagine each of these techniques being yelled out by a stressed-out young guy who wishes he was Scorsese.

(Stream these videos on our site without clicking through to YouTube. We've got the best moment cued up for you.)

Fast zoom out from the keyboard close-up!

Overlay the mundane computer actions with 0s and 1s!
Keyboard typing in a suspiciously darkened room!
Extreme close-up on blinking lights!
Superfast scroll down!

Alternate the slow and fast pans along random servers and stuff!

Canted angle screen zoom in!
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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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