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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Ari Meltzer

Class of 2001, Bachelor's

Associate, Communications and Litigation Practice

Before turning his attention to the law, Ari produced live interviews with top newsmakers for ABC News/Good Morning America.  His segments ranged from front page political news to updates on natural disasters to the lighter side of Washington.  Prior to joining ABC, Ari spent two years as a Washington-based producer for Tribune Broadcasting (owner of several WB, Fox, and ABC affiliates, including eight of the top ten markets). This followed a stint at the 6 p.m. producer for WPSD-TV, the NBC affiliate in Paducah, KY (market 76). 


What are the top three skills journalism students should learn in college?:

1. WRITING (which really could be all three). That means paying attention to active verbs, short sentences, and telling a complete story.
2. PRESENTATION. You’re in an electronic news medium, so presentation is as important as the information itself. If you’re on-air, that means working on your vocal inflection, facial movements, and hand gestures. Things as simple as how you hold your microphone can determine whether a viewer is paying attention to what you’re saying or not. For producers, think visuals and pacing. This is your chance to experiment with new things and find a format that works for you.
3. IDENTIFYING YOUR VIEWER. Consider your audience when you’re putting together a story or a whole newscast. Know your demographic and find ways to tailor your stories to them without compromising your journalism. Ask yourself what you are doing to stand out in the minds of your viewers.

What were your duties at ATVN? :

Ari was a member of the original student management team, spending a year as ATVN’s sports director. Some simple coaxing convinced Ari to jump over to the news side, where he worked as an Executive Producer and Washington Bureau Chief.

How did ATVN prepare you for your career?:

No class at USC could have prepared me for the job market like ATVN.  My boss at my first station told me the ATVN resume tape is what differentiated me from other producers.  Having hands-on training is crucial, and ATVN gave me more hands-on training than my four internships combined.

What is your advice to aspiring journalists?:

This is not an easy industry, but it is rewarding. Think long and hard about your priorities in life and the reality of the news business. If this is really what you want, go at it with full force, because there are thousands of other students out there doing the same thing as you, so you’re going to have to be special to stand out from the crowd.

What should graduates keep in mind when negotiating their first job?:

The most important things you are going to get out of your first job are experience, guidance, and connections. Find the station that offers you the best mix of all three. The money will come down the line, but this is your paid graduate education. You are going to want to feel comfortable with your boss, but also find someone who is going to be honest with you and help make you into the best journalist they can. DO NOT SIGN A LONG TERM CONTRACT! With just one year of experience, your market value will jump considerably. Don’t sell yourself short by getting locked into a multi-year contract.

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