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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Lights, Camera, Action


If you have ever seen the ATVN live show at 6pm Monday through Thursday you know how impressive this program is. The content of the shows, the videos, the reports, the anchors, and so on seem as though they have been doing this forever. However, most times, each new semester is everyone’s first time at his or her job.If you consider how many years professional journalists work before they make it to big markets on air, it really is impressive how well our show goes each week. But have you ever wondered how it all comes together? Before being a broadcast journalism major this is something I had never even considered. As a producer, however, it is ALL I think about.

If you know anything about broadcast journalism you know there is always a morning meeting to discuss how the show will proceed. Think of it as walking into an art studio as a painter and having an enormous blank canvas waiting for you that you only have ten hours to create, paint, and then finish.

Each morning the producers come in with three package ideas as well as a list of story ideas in multiple categories to cover for the newscast. We will go through the budget and pick items we think are worth covering as well as stories we know are happening that day that we want to. But even though we assign the stories and create a rundown based off of our morning meeting story picks, many times those stories do not end up in our final newscast.

As video producer this week I began to understand how that happens. When a story is local and you can send a reporter or MJ to cover it we have a very good chance of getting good material but it is also a lot more challenging because you can not control whether or not someone shows up at the event, if there is too much traffic to make it on time, or other instances that prevent our MJs or reporters from getting the material they need. Many times something from the budget that seems like it will be a great event to cover turns out to be only a conference that does not have great broll and thus our VSV we wanted turns into only a SOT. This can be one of the most frustrating parts because it is NO ONES fault! And when this does happen we not only have to rearrange the rundown, but also, find new stories to add that we had not been working on to make our newscast stronger.

I think what makes a story successful on the air is a strong sound bite that has good video so we can use it to make a VO or VSV. Since this is a television medium everything is VISUAL and even the best SOTs or stories do not work without great video. I think having good video is what ultimately makes or breaks the newscast in the end and that is why our MJs and reporters are SO important!

As the video producer this week I learned that I could not just explain what the story is to an MJ and expect them to cover all of the aspects we want to include in the story. I need to be familiar with exactly what it is we want to cover, what kind of questions we want the MJ to ask, and what type of broll we are looking for. It is hard to remember that an MJ coming in at 10am was not in the morning meeting and without guidance from the video producer there is no way they can know what it is we want to exactly cover. This is where my communication as a leader needs to be the best and this is something I know I need to work on for the next time I am video producer. If I can successfully do that, then I think our stories have a much better chance coming to life and making it to the show!

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