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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Perfectionism VS. Efficiency

Efficiency takes priority when you're working on deadline to produce a 30-minute newscast.

There are scripts to write, videos to edit and transfer, graphics to create, run-throughs to practice, back-up stories to plan and all sorts of unexpected technical issues to resolve. Whether we're ready or not, ATVN airs at 6:00 every night. It all has to get done by then - and it often feels like there simply isn't time to perfect anything.

This doesn't sit well with my propensity for obsessive-compulsive perfectionism. I'm the E.P. shadow who uses a bubble level to check the aligment of everything I write on the white-board; I was the reporter who point-blank refused to send packages until 90 seconds before my slot so I could use every last second to double-check my editing; being the producer who approves subpar VOs and hands my anchors un-copy edited scripts doesn't feel right.

Now that everybody on Team Thursday has had a few weeks to familiarize themselves with their ATVN responsibilities, it's time focus on quality control - in addition to deadline-oriented efficiency. I'm confident we have what it takes to produce a newscast in a timely and meticulous manner.

This starts with organization and careful delegation of responsibilities. I've noticed things start to fall through the cracks when MJs or assignment editors have to leave at the end of their shifts, and people who take over for them aren't quite sure how to finish their stories. Worse, producers sometimes aren't even aware that things haven't been finished, and don't know to hand them off to other people.

Perfectionism is very much an individual trait, but there are plenty of things we can do as a newsroom team to maintain steady productivity and produce high quality material throughout the day.



  • Rather than simply saying, "Tell the next desk person what you were working on" when assignment editors leave, we need to actually listen to that conversation as it happens and fill in anything that was left out. Many follow-up calls that need to be made when we're scheduling interviews and requesting statements don't go through because there isn't enough continuity at the desk.
  • No more handwritten lists scribbled in highlighter ink on scraps of paper. I want all notes taken by assignment editors to be typed into iNews. Full sentences, time stamps and initials, pretty please.
  • All interviews scheduled by assignment editors must be written on the white board and listed chronologically in the "INTERVIEWS" box I draw at 7 a.m. Phone numbers, names and corresponding story slugs would also be appreciated.



  • We should start photocopying MJ Story Sheets and keeping an organized log of all the originals. Each person who takes over to work on the story should get a copy, and any questions for the video teammate can quickly be answered by referencing their own log of story sheets. When more than one MJ works on an assignment, there is far too much confusion about who was interviewed, where the footage is, what specific bites to use and how much of the story was already written or planned out.
  • This may be excessive, but I really appreciate MJs who text me photos of how they framed their interviews and quick summaries of what they said before they head back to the newsroom. I'm constantly checking my phone and can tell them immediately whether or not they need to stay and ask another question, re-shoot the interview from a different angle, etc.
  • Scripts need to be checked by producers before any video is edited to match them. This is easier than copy editing later in the day and then having to re-edit and re-send the video.



  • Please, please, please check in with us throughout the day. If calling the desk and being put on hold is too much of an ordeal when you're out in the field, just shoot me a quick text to let me know where you are and what you still need to get.
  • Technical problems are often out of your control - we get it. But let the producers know if you're having trouble importing footage or you realized one of your key interviews doesn't have audio. Tom may be your go-to guy for all things Avid-related, but we might have b-roll or an unused soundbite from an MJ that you can use instead.
  • Script approval is not the only time you're allowed to ask for help with writing. Feel free to interrupt any of the producers if you're stuck with your script.
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