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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Do You Care?

ATVN serves the USC community, so naturally, we want to produce stories that interest our viewers.  Luckily for me and the rest of my producing team, we are the demographic of our audience.  And if I were tuning in, here are a few things I would want to see.

1) Is Lindsay Lohan actually pregnant?  Will she name her child Regina George?  Will it wear pink on all Wednesday's, or only a select few?

2) Why on Earth would Coach Enfield leave Florida Gulf Coast for USC?  Have you seen the FGC campus?  It's on a beach, classrooms overlook the ocean and home basketball games usually sell out.  Why switch to South Central where if the Galen Center ever did reach capacity, Pat Haden would probably provide free In-N-Out for the whole campus and declare it a school-wide holiday?

3) Shockingly, I'd like to know what's going on in the world, the country and the state I currently live in, California.  This doesn't mean I want to sit and listen to a city council meeting, but it means if there is a flight attendant protest going on at LAX, I want to know why.  If there's a new iPhone application that tells me about Los Angeles, I want to know what it does and how I can use it.  If a "Kid President" is speaking from the White House, I want to know what he has to say.  And if Barbara Walters isn't actually retiring, I want to give her a big hug and say, "You go, girl."

A typical, local newscast most likely wouldn't dream of leading with the news that an MTV reality star was found dead in West Virginia.  But, for a solid chunk of Monday, that's what we had set as the lead.

I've never heard of "Buckwild." My MTV knowledge starts at "Date My Mom" and ends at "Sixteen and Pregnant," but the new series about twenty-somethings gallivanting around West Virginia had slipped right past my radar and into a mental trash bin with other MTV reality greats like "Ridiculousness" and "Snooki & JWoww." 

Yet, the death of Shane Gandee somehow made it into the mix of stories that would potentially start our show.  And it makes sense.  Kind of.

Gandee was a 21-year-old.  We're running a show that's broadcast to a bunch of 21-year-old college kids.  A few 60-year-olds may tune in, shout out to you Karl and Sharon Benson!, but for the most part, anyone who is watching is in their late teens and early 20's.  Thus, a story like the death of an MTV star has potential importance.

Eventually, we decided not to have Gandee as the lead, although we did keep him in our A-block. 

What did we lead with instead?  We headed over to the diamond and focused on the matchup between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers at Opening Day at Dodgers Field.  The little sports nut in me beamed.  We led with a sports story.  I'm doing a victory lap around the newsroom with Nick Burton as soon as I get back.

But jokes aside, that story was actually important to our viewers.  Here at USC, we have both Dodgers and Giants fans and everyone was pumped for the first pitch to be thrown out and ready for the Los Angeles MLB season to begin.

At ATVN, we want to attract viewers not send their eyes in the other direction.  If we can find a niche to draw them in, like a local baseball showdown, then it doesn't matter that it's sports.  It just matters that it's interesting.

And if it's not, you can always refer to Lindsay Lohan's Twitter account to keep you up to date with latest hard hitting news.

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