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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Setting The Tone Early


Now that we have run the show several times, I realize that the morning meeting is one of the most important parts of the day.  It gets you prepared for the entire day and lays out the plans for most of the content featured in the show.  However, to ensure a smooth meeting, and a smooth day, producers must put in hours of research the nights before to put together compelling and plausible story ideas.  

While the morning meeting starts at 8:30, I normally start preparing for the meeting all week long by watching local newscasts and following big stories online.  This allows me to know what stories I should continue to follow on my day of air.  Sometimes a Monday night show will broadcast stories about events happening the next day, clueing me into things that should be covered in our own show.  I also check AP wires and advisories for Southern California news late at night to see if anything breaks that we should follow the next morning.  Using these resources, I usually write up two package ideas to bring to the meeting, leaving one more to be decided by the daily budget.

After a good night's sleep (hopefully), I get to ATVN around 7:30 to print out a daily budget, which lists many events happening in the area, in addition to the Mayor's schedule and the Police Chief's schedule.  I draw from these documents to come up with my final package idea for the day.  Finally, it's time for the meeting to start.  

Sometimes the morning meeting can move slowly as people in the newsroom (myself included) get distracted.  I think the key to moving quickly is to speak with a purpose.  Instead of asking questions, people should simply pitch ideas and let the producers decide which stories will be covered later.  

Furthermore, producers cannot forget about the volunteers at the assignment desk and must utilize them early in the meeting.  For every story that we have questions on -- whether we want to know how many people will be at a rally, or if a keynote speaker will be available for an interview -- producers should have the assignment desk call immediately so we can better decide which stories to send multimedia journalists or reporters on and which stories we should forget about.  

Finally, events that occur early in the day require an MJ to be sent out quickly to ensure coverage for the newscast.  I try to have foresight, making a note of earlier events so that I remember to send our MJs out with enough time to shoot great video and interviews.

The bottom line is that preparation is key.  The more research done in advance, whether it's securing an interview for the next day or writing well-thought out package ideas, the better the morning meeting will go.  And a good morning meeting means happy producers and a well-thought out show.  

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