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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Who's on First?


Choosing a lead is hard. There are so many things to consider. One, does the viewer care about this? Two, is the information presented in an interesting way? Three, are the visuals and interviews compelling and useful? The list could go on and on, but these were the top things going through my mind this week. The problem was we had two stories with very different strengths and weaknesses, and both were great pieces. 

One was more important to students but lacked a lot of emotion and the other was more interesting in terms of sound and visual components, but was not necessary for students to see it. In the end, I went with the more local news story that had more visuals because I felt it was more catchy as a lead than the other. But, getting to that choice was hard, and I changed things at least three times in the process. 

In the morning meeting, we usually have an idea which stories will be most important, most visual, and most interesting. But, by the end of the day, things can completely change based on what actually happens. As lead producer this week, I had sole authority to choose the lead story, but discussion with the team is still necessary. They brought up great points for different stories, and it was really helpful to hear what they had to say.

I think one of the most important things we have to ask ourselves throughout the day is: why are we doing this story? Do people really care? Would I myself watch this? The answer is not always yes, and I think that's because sometimes we just use sound to use sound or just use footage because we shot it ourselves. I need to make sure that no matter what, we are presenting the best stories overall. As a college student creating a newscast for college students, I do realize we have to cater to our audience and that can sometimes mean leaving out stories that a typical local station might cover. 

Putting together 30 minutes of coverage for college students is pretty difficult, and we don't always succeed in our efforts, but my team and I definitely try to pick the right lead with the right stories to follow for our audience.

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