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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

The Evolution of a News Story

It is with a real sense of optimism that we approach our news meeting early on Monday mornings. Armed with a strong knowledge of the day’s news events and with journalists milling about the newsroom and eager to get to work, it doesn’t take long before the story ideas start to flow thick and fast. Within minutes, the day’s big news has been dissected, expanded and deliberated on as we sketch out a battle plan for how we are going to approach it. It isn’t uncommon at this point to have at least five or six different ideas for interview subjects on the whiteboard for each and every story. But while we might leave the morning meeting feeling as if we’ve got all bases covered, it doesn’t take long for the story list to evolve. News, as we all know, waits for nobody. Small things during the day can quickly change everything. If a journalist, for example, doesn’t arrive in time for a press conference or an interview subject cannot be reached for comment, we, as producers, have to start reassessing what we are going to do. Sometimes, stories we start out expecting to feature prominently in our newscast, simply fail to make the cut. Contrarily, if a journalist manages to get excellent soundbites and video (b-roll) or uncovers a fresh angle, we will often look to allow more time for a story that, at least earlier in the day, had appeared to be of little interest. Through just a few short weeks, what’s become abundantly clear is that as producers, we have to be on top of the news. We can’t expect to brief the journalists about what we want them to deliver for our newscast if we don’t know the basics of the story ourselves. Research is vital when it comes to contributing in a meaningful way at the morning meeting. That begins long before we arrive in the newsroom. 

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