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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

To Future 403 Producers


Dear future 403 producers,

I know how you may be feeling. Nervous, stressed, uncertain, and afraid of what to expect in Jour 403 of Spring 2013. Don't worry, everyone goes into this class feeling the same way, but believe me when I say you come out as a stronger and sharper journalist. So, here are some tips to consider.

1. Research and prepare-- This doesn't mean merely checking the budget and looking at stories online the night before. If you see an event you want to cover on the budget, call the PR number, Google search any information you need, and brainstorm what elements would be needed to develop the story. Then you'll be better prepared and confident to pitch the story in the morning meeting. This is crucial especially when you're lead producer, as you'll be deciding what formats each story will take.

2. Organize and consolidate-- As the video producer, it's your job to delegate and manage all the MJs. For me, this position was the most difficult, because I would forget who I assigned stories to and whether I checked back on copy editing their scripts. So, write everything down. Grab a notebook and a pen and write down who your MJs are, which stories you assign them to, video ID numbers and any changes to the rundown you discuss with the lead producer. It'll especially be beneficial during the latter half of the day when morning MJs are coming back with footage and transitioning their work to the afternoon MJs. By week 2, you'll know which MJs you can rely on and which MJs you need to challenge, so assign accordingly. I found that giving my MJs a set time deadline really helped them be efficient and diligent.

3. Brush up on AP Style-- Being web and graphics producer is a lot of fun because you get to work on a different element of the show; the digital side! During the morning meeting, try to spot stories you'd like to post on the web and communicate with the web supervisor. You'll also be editing and writing stories for the website, so it's good to take out that thick AP Style book and keep it right next to you for the first few weeks. I definitely had to look up some rules that slipped my mind.

Remember it's a learning experience, so have fun. Sure, it all seems stressful and tiresome when you're getting up at 5 a.m. to watch the local news and working 10+ hours trying to put your own show together. But come 5 p.m. and you're sitting in the control room watching everything come together, you see what an amazing experience it is to produce a newscast and work with teammates who are reaching for a specific goal-- to be live on air for the 6p.m. slot. Best of luck!



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