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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Life Lessons Go Beyond Production


When we went around the room on the first day of class, everyone introduced themselves and what they wanted to do when they graduated. The answers ranged from anchor, to entertainment reporter, to kids television program developer (looking at you for that cool life goal, Fernando!). I think I was one of the few who was positive that I wanted to go into production. I thought that maybe this meant I would learn more in this class than my peers or that I would be better trained for a job in the real world with these skills. What I have come to learn instead is the lessons that will be most useful and that will stick with me are the ones that have nothing to do with literal journalism skills of newscast production.

I have learned how to wake up hours before a long day (whether that means getting sleep the night before or not) to make sure I am taking all of the accurate measures to plan and prepare before I walk in the door. I have learned that snacks throughout the day are essential to keep my spirits up (and to share as bribes with my MJs). I have learned that a positive attitude is contagious and it will help everyone around you get through the day as much as it helps you. But most importantly, I have learned the skill of patience and teamwork.

Teamwork is one of those cliché terms that is thrown around in order to build morale and a sense of community. In producing a 30-minute newscast, teamwork is essential and teamwork is also difficult. Every member of my Team Tuesday production team comes from very different backgrounds and have very different career trajectories. Max is our political guru who knows everything about that world (but we sometimes joke that he doesn’t believe in a story unless it comes straight off the City Council budget). For Zi, English is his second language yet he is there every single day learning difficult concepts and working as hard as anyone to do his best. I am the producer who knows too much about ATVN and sometimes gets caught up in the fact that others don’t know the system as well as I do. The descriptions above are our flaws. We could have realized these issues day one and decided our team would never work and given up. Instead, we worked to find the good from our unique perspectives. 

While Max’s political slant to every story sometimes needs to be reigned in, we can learn about perseverance and effort from him. He discovered that Buzzfeed was getting an exclusive interview with President Obama, so naturally he reached out for one of our own as well, thinking, “if they can do it, why can’t we?” (Sorry the President said no, Max!) This “reach for the stars” attitude is incredible and something we should all strive for. Zi may need a little extra help copyediting, but he puts his all into every story and brings a unique perspective to our broadcasts, especially through his package ideas. He has an eye for cinematography and the tips he gives MJs on shooting are amazing. I may know the basics of a rundown and iNews, but I wasn’t a good team member until I learned how to teach these skills to the people around me to make us better as a whole.

While a blog post examining our individual strengths and weaknesses was not the suggested prompt, I feel that I learned because I can recognize these skills. I now know how to bring a team that seems like a mismatched bunch together to make a great final product. I can look past the challenges and differences in a group and pinpoint the skills that will make us better as a whole. Moral of the story: I didn’t just learn how to produce a 30-minute newscast, I learned how to work as a team and that skill is transferable no matter where I end up after graduation. 

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