news reader chat with reporters--is it rehearsed?

we all know the scene–the well-dressed,good-looking news reader tells us there has been a bombing in Iraq, or an exciting decision about Euro exchange rates in Brussels. Then the camera cuts to “our reporter at the scene” with the full story.A more casually dressed reporter then repeats exactly the same facts, but gives us a close up view of a burned car in Baghdad, or of a couple of politicians shaking hands in Brussels.

Then the anchorman says “so , Bob, do you think this will affect America’s image in the region?”

And, of course, Reporter-Bob has a quick concise answer: Well, Jane, I was just talking to the head of the local council, and he told me …"
Well,golly, gee whiz—how convienient of the anchorman to ask the question that makes it look like Reporter Bob actually did some work, other than sitting around his hotel.And how convenient of Bob not to mention his talking with the local council until he was asked.

So my question is–how rehearsed and regimented is all this chit-chat? Is the reporter-at-the-scene told that he has exactly 30 seconds to talk, then to wait for the question, and then another 45 seconds to fill? Or is he allowed to actually say whatever he wants? And does he tell the anchorman what question to ask, or vice-versa?

I can tell you that in the case of local news, everything is heavily scripted–pretty much to the letter. Often you can see this by watching your closed captioning, which in many cities is just the newscast’s script (larger markets use real transcripted CC, so YMMV). This scripting almost always includes the brief Q&A at the end of a report (usually called a talkback, almost always consisting of one question).

Even in a breaking news, unscripted situation, the reporter will feed questions to the producer before going to air. That’s why a reporter always has an answer to the question–he provides the questions.

I have absolutely no doubt that things play pretty much the same on a network level, but I can’t attest to it personally.