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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

How To Find The News

Constructing your newscast is a lot like making a sandwich, and our stories are the key ingredients. You have to know where to find the best sources, to identify what is important, and to be able to assemble your chosen stories in a way that flows.

My search for the best content begins the evening before our Thursday newscast when I read Yahoo! News Digest on my smartphone. This six-to-eleven story rundown highlights the important national and international stories that have made headlines each morning and evening. Next I check the CNS budget for events happening the next day in L.A., the Los Angeles Times, CBS Los Angeles, KTLA and NBC websites.

I like to identify the developing stories, so I know what to keep an eye out for in the morning. Last night I made sure to note the developing police search for the suspect in the Las Vegas road rage shooting, which we ended up covering in our newscast as the story developed. The Los Angeles Times also has a live news blog, which is where I learned about the developing story about the UCLA superbug bacteria. Once you find a story it’s easy to begin searching for more outlets’ coverage to gather more details. In this case I was able to look for media experts at UCLA who we could reach out to in order to package the story. Although our package fell through because of the inability to secure the necessary interviews, I would not have been able to come up with sources without reading the story on several sites in order to understand it from all angles.

A key source for me is also the Associated Press News App for smartphones that breaks down major stories and local wires. I’m always grateful when my phone buzzes with an update on a developing story from the A.P. because I know it will tell me all of the important elements as soon as they happen.

I like to wake up at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday mornings to watch NBC’s Today Show and KTLA’s morning news because both outlets usually report on package ideas my producers and I had the night before. This Thursday both channels talked about the UCLA superbug, so we knew that was going to be a major story for our 6p.m. newscast as well.

After I watch the newscasts I read TheSkimm, a daily news email that sums up all the major stories from the day before, so I know the background to important stories. I also read The Week’s Top Ten story email to understand the top stories that are being covered around the world.

It’s always important to keep an eye on USC’s other media outlets both online and on social media. Without the USC ISA Facebook page we would have missed out on covering the International food fair that took place on campus today!

Social media in general is also very important because it provides us with reactions to stories we might not be able to find great interviews for. In this Thursday’s newscast it was also an essential part to our breaking news story about the death of co-executive producer of NBC’s Parks and Recreation Harris Wittels. This story broke when we went live and Caroline, who was our video producer this week, was able to pull comedian reactions from twitter to create graphics for the story.

Content will come to you in a number of ways. You will read about a story on the web, watch it on a newscast, see it in the trending topics on social media, or hear it from your peers. The most important thing to do is to stay alert throughout the day, and remember that even if something falls through the news is consistently developing around you. As a producer it is your job to pick out the meat of the newscast and prepare it to the best of your ability.

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