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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

A Few Nuggets for the Newbies

While I have worked at almost every position at ATVN, I was a producer during my last official day at ATVN ever!  Upon contemplating my day while walking back to my apartment and eating dinner, I realized I had used almost every skill I learned at ATVN during Wednesday’s preparations for the newscast.   Looking back on this semester of positions for the class as lead producer, video teammate and web/graphics teammate, there are a few nuggets of wisdom I’d like to pass down to those taking over these leadership roles next semester.  First of all, for all producers sitting in those three chairs, the morning meeting is one of the most crucial times during the day.  You may be a little sleepy, but with a little coffee and lots of preparation, that time of day will really determine the energy and plan for the coming hours. 

Be sure to have feasible package ideas ready as if you were the reporter being assigned the story that day.  Think like a reporter.  What b-roll do you need?  What would be the best sound to make the most compelling piece?  Also, even with the stories that aren’t packages, be sure to think about some specific experts and use of footage or full screens to make each story as dynamic as it can be.  As lead producer, always fill in the rundown as soon as the meeting ends and make a conscious effort to only focus on filling out the rundown page by page, working horizontally, to ensure that all team members understand how each story will be written and edited. 

For any of you that will be video teammate, be sure to keep an eye on the video throughout the day.  If something comes across at 4:30 or 4:45 that you think would be important for the newscast, be sure to order that video immediately and communicate that news to all of your team members.  The web/graphics position is challenging, but make lists of what you need to include to make a comprehensive and accurate web story and don’t forget to fill out a few graphics requests forms around 11:30 a.m. or 12:00 p.m. to prevent a backlog later in the day. 

The key to a successful newscast and producing day is communication, but not just for the sake of the newscast.  Be sure to communicate thanks to each and every person contributing to your newscast and web coverage.  I will stand by my comparison in my first blog of the semester: putting on a newscast is like a jigsaw puzzle—if one piece is missing, the puzzle is not complete.

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