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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

You Know You Want To Take The Producing Class


I remember my first day of 403 like it was yesterday: I walked into class thinking producing would be a breeze and walked out of the classroom with a stack of handouts and guidelines and suddenly I was petrified. Do not let this deter you - this class will be one of the best experiences of your life.

Maybe you want to be a producer, maybe you don’t. Frankly, it really does not matter. Forget what you want to do when you graduate and focus on the incredible opportunity you have here at ATVN. Through this class I feel I learned more about myself and about life skills than I ever could in another school setting. I am ready to take on the real world with these new skills. So you can feel this way too, I’m going to give you five pieces of advice I have learned through my experiences this semester. 

1. Leave your differences at the door. Scratch that: let them combine to make a better team! I looked around at my fellow Team Tuesday producers when we first learned our assignments and couldn’t imagine how three people that were so different could make a newscast. We did because we worked together and we didn’t let our differences get in the way of our common goal. No matter who you are working with, just put your heads together and figure out the best way to tackle the issue in front of you so you can get to your shared end goal. Convergence!

2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Did I say communicate? This sounds like a no brainer, but always keep in contact with your reporters and discuss your plan for coverage with your fellow producers. As common sense as this one seems, make the conscious effort or you will lose your way. Talk, plan, and just get to know the people around you and their strengths and weaknesses.

3. Have patience with your MJs. Just like your panic attack on day one, your MJs and reporters are in the same boat: everyone walks into the semester shiny and new and does not know what their position entails. Don’t lose sight of this; the goal for everyone is to learn and to grow. Make sure you are a helpful and friendly face in this process.

4. Things won’t always go to plan. A rundown will change one thousand times in a day. Your reporter will come back with great sound only to realize their microphone wasn’t plugged in. Your live shot will fail minutes before air. This is live TV and these things happen, what matters is how you deal with these situations. Be calm, cool and collected, but also be decisive. Make your decision quick, stick to it, and see it through to the end.

5. Your attitude matters. As crazy as it seems because you are not that much older than the younger students in the Media Center, you are the role models they look to for guidance. Lead them, not just by giving out instructions or teaching a new skill, but in the way they observe you and your approach to the daily challenges at ATVN. Treat everyone in the Media Center with respect. Encourage MJs to ask questions both of you and of each other. Create a fun learning environment that you would have liked to work in as an MJ. 

BONUS TIP: ALWAYS have food available. The rumored “ATVN diet” is true; when you are so focused on a task for 12 straight hours sometimes you forget to do the little things…like eat. Bring food with you, I can not stress this enough! Stacy would laugh at me every week because I would have some strange collection of snacks out on my desk. Don’t let her tease you about it! Food = happiness and a happy producer = a good newscast! (Ask anyone, this is the only math equation I am comfortable doing). 

I know this is all a little overwhelming but don’t throw in the towel yet! What seems difficult now will get easier, just stay with it! There is nothing like the feeling you get when you leave the studio after your final show and your final post show meeting. You walk out with your head held high. You walk out knowing that every person in that room gave it their all. You walk out with a sense of pride in knowing that on day one you were strangers and somewhere along the way you became a family. You feel like you have conquered the world. No matter how difficult the process may get or the journey may seem, I promise that when you have this moment on your very last day all of the work will have been worth it. 

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