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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Plan Ahead


After our final broadcast of the semester aired last night, I met with my incredible studio team to thank them for their hard work this semester, as well as to encourage them all to take the JOUR403 Producing class. 

Taking this class is one of the most challenging things I have done. It is also the most rewarding experience and accomplishment I am most proud of in my academic career thus far. I have learned so many skills valuable to every career, but most importantly how to do what I want to do with my life. 

It’s taken time to develop these skills – time management, organization and strong communication – but with each week there were improvements. 

Know that things change in news. Sometimes an MJ forgets to turn a microphone on and you have no sound. Sometimes iNews decides to not work. Sometimes it’s 05:58:45 and your lead package still isn’t online. Breathe. It will be okay…if you have a plan. 

Have a plan the night before. Obviously, you cannot predict exactly when things will change, but you can come in for your shift with plenty prepared. Know details of any and all stories you would like to include in your newscast. Watch the news, keep lists, do research and make calls. Being prepared before you even arrive in the newsroom will help the rest of your day run much smoother. 

Have a plan of how your newscast will look when you go in. Even if you are the graphics teammate, start thinking about captions and artwork. If you’re the video producer, think about what video you’ll need and how the day will play out with MJs covering various stories. Communicate this with each other and continually communicate throughout the day to avoid major problems.

Have a plan of how you’ll cover all stories and backup plan for each story if you don’t get the essential interview you needed or both sides of story. This is one thing I recently learned and wish I had been better about. Instead of scrambling at the last minute in the midst of writing the pre-show teases and everything else, know how else you can get coverage for the story, if necessary – or what else you can add to your newscast.

In general, have a plan for every part of your day. Set goals for yourself and keep running lists of everything that needs to be done. Stay organized, communicate and watch the clock. It will be stressful, but it’s worth it at the end of the day to see the final newscast. 

So to all my future producers, I wish you all the best and I hope that you get as much out of this experience as I have. I am so thankful to have had this opportunity and am so excited to see what’s to come. 

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