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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

ATVN Producing For Dummies

Congratulations, you signed up for JOUR 403.  You're a producer.  There's no turning back.  Here's some advice.


Half way through the semester I decided it was a grand idea to start going to Soul Cycle every morning at 6 a.m.  This included my days at ATVN.  You may think going nowhere on a stationary bike for an hour to the tunes of Justin Timberlake before the sun rises is not smart.  Au contraire.  It gave me energy so I started off my days at ATVN with a little extra jolt.  That jolt for you might come from a venti iced coffee from Starbucks.  Maybe that jolt is an 8 p.m. bedtime.  Or maybe you're just gifted with the energy levels of a five-year-old eating churros at Disneyland for the first time.  Whatever way works for you, find that energy.

Be friends with your team.

Dedicating a twelve-hour day to forming a newscast can, shockingly, be a little bit of fun.  Team Monday was all about keeping up the laughter throughout our days in the newsroom.  Overall, this will make you happier.  Bonus: If you get Serena and Stacy to laugh during the rundown meeting, everyone will be happier humans.

The name game.

Speaking of being friends, did you know the best friendships start by simply asking someone their name?  You also may want to remember those names.  One of my workers on Monday called me 'Jennifer' for an entire shift one day.  This didn't make me happy.  The next week he called me "Ali."  This also didn't make me happy.  This was seven weeks into the semester.  I was his lead producer.  We are Facebook friends, we work together and I've now known him for two years.  Don't be this person.  Be the person who calls people by name and asks about their pet hamster and their mom's tupperware party.

Stay organized.

Now would be a great time to go back in time and reconnect with those sparkly Lisa Frank notebooks and accordion folders.  At the very least, create a system for yourself that forces you to keep track of all the little things that come flying at you throughout the day.  I know, I know, you've heard this before.  Everyone always tells you to 'make lists' and 'have mini meetings.'  But seriously, as the great slogan Gods at Nike once said, 'Just do it.' 

Create the order of your show before heading into the rundown meeting.

This is humorous because I'll tell you to do this and 99% of the time it's probably still going to be wrong.  I still have trouble with it.  Just be conscientious of it.  During your first rundown meeting Stacy will inevitably say, "well (dramatic pause), this won't be here. We'll come back to this." She does so with love and affection.

What you get for lunch is crucial.

Is the salad line at Seeds too long?  Did Lemonade decide to end the world and not serve chicken chili today?  Moments like these can ruin your day, but don't let them completely deter you from fueling yourself.  Feed yourself people.  Otherwise, you'll be stuck eating M&Ms, veggie chips and gum from the coffee cart.  Hungry producers are angry producers.

Use the right form of your/you're.

This just personally drives me crazy so I figured here was an appropriate place to tell everyone to stop mixing the two up.

Now that you're fed, rested and organized, you're ready to go!  Producing will be one of the most valuable experiences in your time at USC.  You may not want to be a producer the rest of your life, but you will walk away with so many incredibly valuable skills that can lead you through any career path you may pick.  If all else fails, you can at least write some semi-witty blogs along the way.

In other news all of you super-motivated, quick-witted, intelligent, beautiful people should work on Wednesday's newscast next semester.  I will be your Executive Producer, and I will play the Spice Girls on repeat and bring in cookies frequently.

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