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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Leading the Newscast


So far this semester, the budget for Monday has never seemed to hold that much potential, leaving me scrambling for good story pitches the night before. Luckily when I have woken up in the morning, the news has blessed us with more information on Christopher Dorner or the pope resigning, however this Monday proved to be quite different since the Oscars were the night before. Every newscast in the morning was recapping the Oscars, which would not do for ATVN since we aired at 6 pm and thus the Oscars would be old news. 

Team Monday seconds before showtime!
Team Monday seconds before showtime!

I think that the morning meeting is not only the most interesting part of the day because you get to discuss and bounce story ideas off one another but I also just love the atmosphere of it. Having everybody participate is key to a successful morning meeting and then having a successful newscast. Having more opinions and ideas leads to more concise ideas for story packages and a richer newscast in general. 

Choosing a lead story is always a challenge on a slower news day. Obviously our last Monday newscast it was a no-brainer, lead with the pope. It was the biggest news of the day, every station was running stories throughout the day, more interesting information was coming in and he was the first pope to resign in 600 years making it a pretty big deal. This Monday was a little different. 

Going into the morning meeting, I was unsure what exactly the lead story was going to be. I had the government budget cuts as a package in my notes and definitely did think it was package worthy but I wasn't sure about lead story. Maybe this is me still weaving through all the news and with being a student and still learning, I tend to not be as decisive as I should be about my thoughts in the morning meeting. I tend to give a lot of details and ideas about an event instead of saying 'we need to do this,' which is something that I think I can improve upon and be more comfortable with doing as the semester progresses. 

This being said, after discussion of the budget cuts, it was clear that it would not only be our lead story, but there was so much information and so many angles we could do the story that we should make it into two packages. Communication is key and I think that this is really a strength for Team Monday. 

In evaluating what stories get into the rundown, I think the main criteria is: Is it relevant? Why is it important? Does it affect people in our area? Is it visually interesting? And as a viewer I expect to see things that directly affect me in my community or stories that are very interesting and grab my attention. I think that asking these questions is essentially not only for securing an audience but also to make the newscast the best it can be. As a producer, asking these questions also helps you to understand what can and can not be cut when the newscast is too long, which we did have to do on Monday. I think overall if we keep asking these questions, we will be able to produce a rock solid newscast in no time.

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