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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Hope For The Best, But Expect The Worst


Yesterday, I entered the newsroom with a newfound determination, authority, and confidence. I was firm in my resolve: this week’s newscast is going to be better than last week’s. Now, considering the mishaps that plagued my previous show, I found a twisted sense of comfort in the fact that it really couldn’t get much worse. Due to my lack of preparation, when my lead package fell through, I was left writing an alternative welcome and rearranging the rundown literally five seconds before show time. For me, trying to think clearly and write quality content in such a pressure-driven environment was nearly impossible. As a result, the beginning of my broadcast appeared disjointed and unrefined. Although supremely disappointing, my lackluster performance as lead producer taught me an invaluable lesson – always have a plan B! Furthermore, this experience reinvigorated my fierce competitive nature, igniting within me an unquenchable desire to work harder than I ever thought possible. 

This week, as the video teammate, I took it upon myself to ensure that the various elements of the show, specifically the videos/scripts, came together in a timely manner. Unfortunately, there was a technical problem, which made it so that the rundown did not depict when a video was finalized. Consequently, I was forced to devise a new system to maintain structure. I ended up writing a list of all the stories that required videos. Next to each story slug, I kept a running tab of the status of its video/script. After I officially approved the details of a video/script, I would physically cross it off my list and communicate to the lead producer that it was done. Ultimately, Monday’s technical problem required me to be solution oriented and, in turn, I felt more organized and knowledgeable than ever before. My MJs and I worked efficiently and synchronously, but, most importantly, we had a great deal of fun.

Towards the end of my shift, I was praised for being more “bossy.” I finally realized that, as the producer, these newscasts belong to my teammates and I and, therefore, we must take charge. Although I have always been a victim of my passive-aggressiveness, I have found that it is easier to be a leader when you’re fully aware of your duties and responsibilities. Furthermore, you can demand respect when you have a detailed execution plan, as well as a backup (maybe even two). When MJs didn’t have enough footage or were struggling to find a decent sound bite in an interview, they would turn to me regarding the next steps; hence, I constantly had to be armed with answers. Whether you are the lead, video, or graphics teammate, since journalism operates in chaos, your success depends on your ability to foresee the problem before it arises. It’s Murphy’s Law: if anything can go wrong, it will!

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