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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Words of Advice


Wow. I can't believe one semester has already flown by and I have finished my stint as an Annenberg TV News Producer. It's incredible how much one can learn in just 15 weeks.

This class is extremely demanding. Initially, there is so much to learn in such a short period of time that it seems impossible to keep track of everything there is to do. Even through our final newscast, there were elements that could have been handled better and there were bumps along the road. 

Nonetheless, by this week, I have learned what I think are among the most integral points to keep in mind as a producer. Most of the elements that are initially difficult take time and practice, but eventually start to become second nature. Tasks such as formatting, coming up with story ideas, and writing slugs are all old hat to me. On the other hand, communicating and writing everything down are two invaluable solutions to a number of problems, and one can always continue to develop these skills. 

In the newsroom, there are frequently hundreds of different things going on simultaneously. One producer might be writing a script while another talks on the phone to a multimedia journalist and a third is in the back setting up an over-the-phone interview or watching video. Yet despite the constant flow of tasks and voices, there must always be a certain amount of discipline and order in the newsroom in order for it to function smoothly.

The key is communication. It is easiest to assign stories to journalists when one can be certain exactly what has been done so far and what still needs to be assigned. And in an environment where stories are constantly in flux, the system that everyone can rely on to maintain a sense of balance is iNews. When notes are written down in the rundown for everyone to see, determining the next step becomes much easier. Whether reminding assignment editors that a certain expert has already been called or delegating the writing of a tag to a multimedia journalist, the job is easier if iNews is regarded as a note-keeping device as much as it is a home for the rundown. Not only will everybody in the newsroom remain on the same page on all stories, but taking notes in iNews also allows the note-taker to record something and forget it ten seconds later when a new task arises, knowing that the previously important thought is safe in iNews. 

It is just as important to continually talk to other producers and workers throughout the day. If, at 3pm, nobody knows where a certain reporter is, or what expert testimony is expected on a story, elements are lost and the entire newscast suffers. Even just talking out loud while working can allow others to overhear important information and benefit the team. 

Dozens and dozens of workers come together each day at ATVN, many performing vastly different tasks. Yet at the end of the day, one newscast is the product. At 6pm sharp, every person that contributed his or her energy to the production is regarded in more or less the same light, based on how the show turns out. Many people who work in the morning don't know who will be filling their shoes in the afternoon, much less at the studio in the early evening. That is why constant communication is what turns a good newscast into a great one. 

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