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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Dear Future Leaders of the Newsroom

These past 10 weeks as a producer have been rough. I did not understand just how much time and effort went into airing a live, 30-minute show. Although there was a lot to learn this semester -- like how to put in macros or how to handle breaking news -- there is one piece of advice I have to give. BE A LEADER!

Most of the time people think of one leader, but in the newsroom there should be three (or two depending on how many producers you get.) Yes, the lead prodoucer builds the show how he or she would like it, but the video and graphics teammates need to lead the newsroom to make sure elements are coming together. As lead producer, you are not able to be everywhere and know about all the little things going on. This is where teammates' help fills in the gap and make sure everyone is getting the help they need.

It became obvious around the third or fourth week that being a strong leader is necessary for the news team. As the weeks progressed, we still had several MJ's who did not know how to create a new bin to import their footage or the OTS (over the shoulder) graphics were designed incorrectly. This was a result of the producers not taking the time to explain what is being asked (instead of just assigning items and assuming it will get done properly.) I firmly believe if we took the time to really help the other journalists, they would have gained a more enriching experience and learned tools that they could pass on in the next semester or at internships they will eventually take up.

Also as a leader, make sure to keep a level head under pressure. It is very easy to start barking orders when it's 4:00 P.M. and half the show is pink (meaning: videos are still not online.) It is important to remember it is not anyone else's fault, and the show runs smoother when you're more approachable.


For those looking at this blog for a "cheat sheet" on how to do this position, here's a few tips you should pick up on:

  1. Find a system that will establish (up to the minute) communcation between the producers. (Google docs work well, and Facebook Messenger.)
  2. Finish two of your package ideas BEFORE you go to the newsroom.
  3. Be in the newsroom between 7:00 - 7:30 A.M. (especailly if you are a Thursday producer.)
  4. Watch the nightly newscast the night before on and also local news stations.
  5. Wake up by 5:30 AM on the day of your producing shift and watch the morning newscasts!
  6. Learn macros on your own time so you can be comfortable with them when you're lead producer.
  7. Listen to Serena and Stacy and the other advisors. Even if they suggest something you do not like or want to do, it's good to see another perspective.
  8. Pack lunch or be ready to eat at the Annenberg Coffee Cart so you can grab food quickly (trust me, it's easy to just skip lunch and dinner when under pressure.)
  9. Do things to lift up the newsroom. Have a 30-second dance marathon or play music (earlier in the day). It'll liven up the room!
  10. Do your blogs on time (with as few mistakes as possible!)

I hope this helps. Good luck to all the future leaders of the ATVN newsroom!

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