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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

All Eyes on You to Call the Shots


Being lead producer is one of the most rewarding positions at ATVN, but it is also one of the hardest. When you are lead producing, you are ultimately the one to make the final decisions regarding the format and the content that will go in the show, which is a huge responsibility.

As lead today, I was responsible for making these sorts of decisions. Decisions such as, choosing what stories we should cover, what the formatting of these stories should be, what order the stories should go in, how much time they should get, if they should have an OTS or not, and so forth.

Each decision has to be carefully considered and thought through because if you change one aspect in the rundown, many times, the rest of the information across the line has to be changed as well.

For example, if I had my lead story in the rundown as USC Memorial and I had formatted it as a VOSOT with a tag called USC Memorial Tag, that would be two separate lines in the rundown. Let’s say I gave the VOSOT :35 seconds, and the Tag :10 in the B/T column. In this scenario, both lines would have an OTS in the SSCUTLINE and the VOSOT would have an ID in the last column to indicate it had video.

If the MJ shooting the story came back and explained that there was very little broll and it would be really hard to make a VOSOT, then I would have to make a formatting decision. But, if I only change the formatting to a TOPSOT with a Tag and do not change anything else, then my rundown would have multiple errors.

I would have to not only change the formatting, but I would have to change the B/T timing because it would not be as long as a :35 VOSOT would be, and I would have to take out the OTS in the SSCUTLINE for the TOPSOT because there is no anchor lead-in.

These types of changes are made constantly throughout the day, and it is also where many little errors can occur. As lead, one of the hardest things I have found is keeping track of what you have formatted and what the MJs footage will actually allow you to format. You might start off putting a story in the rundown as a VOSOT on one line, a SOT on the next line, and then another VOSOT with a Tag on the third line because there is a lot of information to cover. However, if the MJ is unable to get good broll or get more than one SOT, then no matter what you wanted the formatting to be in the beginning, it has to change to accommodate what is actually delivered.

Beyond formatting decisions, editorial decisions about what content is most important to the USC audience is also something as lead producer I had to consider. Stories that affect the USC community are obviously ones that we want to cover with our newscast, but we want to cover stories that other major news stations are covering as well.

Breaking news stories are always stories we try to include in our newscast if we can. We also try and include local stories that we can send our own MJs and reporters out to cover. Using our own footage that came from ATVN instead of bitcentral is ideal. Major national and international stories are of course something we cover, even though we cannot send our own journalists, because they are of interest to our viewers as well.

Deciding all these different elements of the newscast when I am lead is something I find exciting because at the end of the day, the show that airs is the show that I created, and that is one of the coolest feelings in the world.

I loved being lead and seeing how well our Thursday team would put together our morning meeting ideas and turn them into a full half hour newscast. I am sad today was my last time I get to produce as lead at ATVN, but I enjoyed the experience so much.

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