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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Choosing the Lead Story

A lead story is the most important and relevant piece of news that will be covered in a newscast. During the morning meetings, producers will discuss which story should literally "lead" the show by being aired at the top of the newscast.

Upon doing proper research into what news is trending, most producers will have a general idea of what the lead story should be. However, further discussions about options and varying opinions can always change what the lead story will ultimately be. Sometimes, breaking news can even alter what was originally planned to lead the show.

In order to choose a lead story, I watch various television newscasts, read articles online, look through CNN Newsource, continue updating myself on the budget and keep an eye out for interesting news topics. It is crucial to be knowledgeable about all current events in order to be able to choose the best possible lead story.

Viewers expect newscasts to be exhaustive, accurate and up-to-date in their news coverage. Viewers will hope to be given the news in a relevant angle, so that it directly pertains to them. Although the ATVN newscast is student-run by a group of 20-somethings, I believe that we understand what viewers expect and make decisions based on this understanding. Of course, the younger demographic of our viewers and of our news team skews our newcast to be more fitting for 20-somethings. Nonetheless, anyone of any age group can watch ATVN's newscast and be given a comprehensive news update.

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