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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Dear MJs

I admit it. When I was a multimedia journalist, I was one of those kids that hid in the corner.

That's me when I was a MJ. I was helping with a live shot!
That's me when I was a MJ. I was helping with a live shot!

Yup, I was one of those MJs. But why did I do it? Well… I was confused. I didn’t really understand how ATVN worked. Whenever I was asked to work on a SOT (sound on tape or soundbite), a VO (voiceover), or CGs (character generators or lower thirds), I got mini anxiety attacks because I didn’t know what any of these things were! I tried to learn as much as I could by asking questions, but many producers didn’t really take the time to explain things to me because they were wrapped up with hectic deadlines. Shift after shift, I became frustrated and lost motivation. I began to dread going to ATVN as soon as I felt like I wasn’t effectively contributing to the team.

So I get it. I understand why it’s difficult to be a MJ. But, even though things can get tough, there were many things that I could have been done that would have made my MJ experience at ATVN more positive, fun and productive.

If I could go back and be a MJ again, these are the things I would do:

Me at the assignment desk when I was a sophomore!
Me at the assignment desk when I was a sophomore!

  1. ASK MORE QUESTIONS. What is that column in iNews for? How do I adjust sound levels? How do I set up a Skype interview? What the heck is TRT?
  2. BE MORE WILLING TO EXPLORE. Yes, it is a shame that MJs are currently not reimbursed for gas or parking, but sometimes going off of campus exposes you to some of the most unique opportunities. Going off campus gives you real world experience, and provides you with the opportunity to meet new people!
  3. ASK FOR MORE WORK. Yes, you may have finished editing that 20 second teaser, but there is still a lot more work to be done! The more practice you get with writing and editing, the quicker and better you will get.
  4. USE AVAILABLE RESOURCES. If producers can’t help you, there are writing coaches and supervisors available for you to use. They are there to help, so use them!
  5. TAKE RISKS. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Even though ATVN often follows a pattern of VOs and SOTs, don’t be shy to suggest ways for the show to break some norms!
  6. WRITE MORE. When I was a MJ I always tried to avoid writing. I instead asked for tasks that only required me to edit video. But writing is SO important, and practice makes perfect!

Now, as a producer, I know exactly what needs to be done to get a successful show on air. It's frustrating to reflect on my MJ experience, and I really wish I could go back in time to make some changes. I'm so glad I became a producer because it allowed me to see the pure joy and excitement that a newsroom has to offer!

In addition to being a MJ, I also volunteered as an Assistant Director!
In addition to being a MJ, I also volunteered as an Assistant Director!

So, current MJs, don’t be afraid to ask questions and to ask for help. If you are having trouble with something, demand attention. Although it may not seem like it, MJs are VERY important to our newscast. Without you, we wouldn’t have a show! So thank you for all of your hard work! 


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