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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Producers

Hard-Hitting Off the Bat

This week, for the first time, I chose a lead story that was not discussed at all during our rundown meeting because it occurred during the day.

On Monday, all USC students received a Trojans Alert at 10am saying to stay away from a certain area just east of campus. It gave no additional details. 

I was excited. We had a relatively slow news day, so we were covering a few older stories and even our reporters were tackling relatively mediocre subjects. 

Two hours later, we discovered that there was no big story after all. The Trojans Alert was sent because of a mysterious package that happened to not be dangerous at all. Life returned to normal.

I kept this as my lead story nonetheless, arguing that it is primarily students that watch this show, and people are going to be curious as to why we were sent such a vague Trojans Alert that scared even some of our MJs from going to the scene. 

I don't regret this decision. Luckily, towards the end of the day, we were finally able to snag an interview with DPS Captain Carlisle, and we had a full story. I am glad I told our USC community about this event immediately.

However, I learned something very important. It is excellent to have an extremely meaty story right off the bat because of the preshows, cold opens, and welcomes. Unfortunately, Carlisle was the best part of this story, and the actual news was relatively hard to stretch out. Because of the preshows et al, the opening story ends up having plenty of space to fill, and I found that I was repeating a lot of the same information that was in the actual story before even getting to it. Nonetheless, I think this was one of our newsiest stories of the day, and I am glad I placed it where I did. In the future, I will be sure to get plenty of information on each story that I put in the lead spot.

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