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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

What Are You Watching For?

Not all audiences were created equal. When deciding what stories to cover in a daily broadcast, a producer must always keep their viewers in mind.

Are you working on a nationally-syndicated show? Then leading with a story on Ebola might be most appealing to your audience. Are you a local student-run television station? Then a more narrowly-focused story on sex crimes on campus might be a better fit. 

Choosing the lead story for a broadcast is no easy task. Some days it's as clear as a cucumber, and other days you might have a handful of options to choose from. 

The lead is important because it hooks your viewers in and keeps them (hopefully) watching for the duration of the show. A weak lead or an irrelevant lead story won't capture the interest of those watching and convince them that they need to hear what you have to say. 

At ATVN we have the opportunity to produce a newscast that appeals to the interests of local Southern Californians in addition to young, college-aged students. As broadcast journalism majors, the types of stories that interest us may be different than those that appeal to the overall student body at USC. While we think it's newsworthy that a volcanic eruption is happening in Japan, will most students care? It's questions like these that producers are constantly having to ask themselves when building their rundown. 

On another note, in the world of news, things can get dark and depressing pretty quickly. News outlets around the globe are reporting on tragedies like death and war all day, everyday. When thinking about your audience, a producer must also keep a level-head and remember that light stories can be appealing too! There's nothing like a feel-good story at the end of a broadcast to remind those watching that not all news has to be bad.

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