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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Producers

How to Make the Most of Your Story Ideas

Perhaps the most challenging part of producing on Thursday is that our morning meeting is cut short. While Kayla, Julia, and I have story topics ready, we never seem to have enough time to develop all of the ideas before class starts at 9. Therefore, by the time class ends at 12:30, I have to play catch-up to figure out what the lead producer decided to do with those stories.

Luckily, this week Kayla was very organized and used the “notes” column in iNews to really hash out how she envisioned the story going. That way, even though we did not get to fully develop the story ideas in the morning meeting, we were all on the same page for where she envisioned the stories going.

While this method works, it is still not the most effective way to develop stories. When the stories develop collaboratively, they can become more robust because each 403 producer brings their own strengths and perceptions to the table.

In order to fully develop stories in the morning, I think our team needs to push through the slugs faster. That way, even if the ideas are not as concrete as they could be, at least we will all be on the same page before the two teammates head to class.

Ironically, one of the advantages of not being able to fully develop story ideas in the morning is that they are less likely to change throughout the day. For the stories that Kayla fully thought out, the multimedia journalists truly understood, and breaking news did not change, the ideas looked more or less the same in the notes column of iNews as they did in the newscast.

While it is stressful to deal with changes or a lack of video, when the changes happen early, such as switching a VSV to a SOT because the footage was “B-roll challenged” as one of our multimedia journalists wrote, the easier it is for everyone. That way, when other multimedia journalists jump on a story to write and edit it, the changes have already been made, and the time saved can be used for other stories.

In order to have the most number of stories develop successfully throughout the day, I think, at least for Team Thursday, the lead producer needs to fill in the notes column with as much details as possible, like Kayla did this week. When all of the 403 producers are on the same page, it is easier for the stories pitched and somewhat developed in the morning to be successful at 6 pm.

In order to help make this happen on a regular basis, I need to do two things.

First, since I will be lead producer next week, I will need to follow Kayla’s example of filling in the details of the stories in the notes column for my two teammates. This also means being flexible with the story format based on the footage that multimedia journalists bring back.

Second, during the morning meeting, I need to be more vocal. I tend to be a quiet person, and, as a result, tend to not speak up too much during the morning meeting except to say slugs or budget items that I think we should go to. I need to work on voicing my opinion, especially if I think that we are spending too long on a topic and should move on before the teammates must go to class.

If I can do these two things, especially next week, then I think the morning meeting will be more effective and the overall stories for the day can be great. 

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