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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

A Letter To Future Producers

Dear Future ATVN Producers,
Welcome to an exhausting, exciting and rewarding semester! It’s hard to believe that just a few months ago I was beginning this class and my time as a producer.

Looking back on my experience I can say that there are so many things you will learn that no one will be able to prepare you for, but that is what makes this program such an incredible hands-on experience.

Nevertheless, I have been tasked with leaving you with some of my own words of wisdom, so here are my top pieces of advice.

Come In With An Open Mind
Every night before your producing day you are required to come up with package pitches. You might love a story you have found, but you have to remember that sometimes you will have to make compromises in order to produce the best possible newscast you can.

Trust Your Reporters
You have to be willing to run with an idea even when expectations seem unrealistic. It’s difficult to believe that as a student-run organization we will be able to get the exact sources we want on a story, but it is important to trust that your reporters have the skills to get the job done to the best of their abilities. Don’t shoot down ideas just because you have a feeling they won’t work out.

Be Realistic
At the same time it is important to be the voice of reason when people are getting their hopes up. We did a story on cheating scandals this semester, and one of the producers wanted to interview someone who had been involved in a legitimate case. I was open to the idea and helped to find someone the best that I could, but I also gently reminded our team that in that case scenario we should realize that it might not be the most realistic possibility.

Don't Apologize
Often times it is difficult being a leader especially when you’re in charge of a group of your peers. However, it is important to remember that when you walk through the doors of the media center people are going to be looking to you for answers. You are literally running the show. When assigning stories or tasks you will experience the occasional moan and groan, but it’s important not to let these reactions derail your thought process. Not everyone will get to do the story they want to do every shift, but you need to keep the best interest of the newscast in mind. It is important to not spend a great deal of time apologizing for making tough decisions because that is your job.

Expect To Be Exhausted
It’s inevitable that even if you are a morning person you will come into ATVN one day wishing you could have slept in. Being tired is a guaranteed side effect of being a producer, but you cannot let it control your mood or your day. We’re in college, and everyone is sleep-deprived or exhausted from something. It is your job to set an example and remain present throughout the day.

Keep Track of Time
Producing days are long, but they go by very quickly. It is easy to get distracted by something and look up at the clock only to realize it’s been three hours and nothing is done. It is essential to keep track of time and make sure you are constantly aware of what needs to be done. I found it helpful to set alarms on my phone as deadline reminders!

It's Okay To Laugh
If something goes wrong, which I promise something will, it’s okay to take a deep breath and laugh. We are all learning here, and it’s important to remember that. There have been numerous times in the control room when something goes wrong for one reason or another and a look of complete horror will come over the producers’ faces. Even a minor bump can seem like the end of the world. You have to remember that the show will go on, and things will improve with time.

Taking on the role of producer is stressful, but it is also really fun. I’ve never left a shift feeling like I wasted a minute of my day or regretting taking on the responsibility of this class. I have truly enjoyed every moment.

Producing ATVN is like taking a trip on a bullet train. It is easy to get caught off guard or distracted by a minor bump in the road. It’s guaranteed you will begin to feel the pressure of expectations as you race toward your final destination. It is by no means an easy trip, but if you hop on board with a good attitude and a love for adventure then you will find the journey is worth taking.

Good luck!

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