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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Stories Set the Tone


I spend most of my Monday on the hunt for news. I watch the local newscasts, I check every alert the apps on my phone send, and I read through every article I can find on Twitter. I spend Monday being a news junkie, especially because I know that the next day I'll be glad that I did. When you're a producer you have to know the news and there just isn't any way around that. You must be aware of what is going on because chances are it will end up in your newscast. 

But then again, no matter how much you plan or how many newscasts you watch, you're never truly prepared because this is news. You can't be prepared. If you read about it yesterday that means it's no longer news, for the most part. I think that understanding is beginning to help me develop better package ideas to bring to the morning meeting. It's definitely the most challenging part of producing at this point in the semester.  

We had so many great stories this week because we got started early, particularly with the packages. Our reporters were proactive with the stories they wanted to cover the night before and they were able to get started and finish early. As a producer, I loved that. 

In addition, ATVN was not left alone to cover every story. I had been hearing all about this "converged newsroom" since the new building was planned and today was the first time I really understood what that meant. We had representatives from ARN and Neon Tommy at our morning meeting and between our three outlets we got several different elements that we could share with each other.

I've found that the best way you can prepare for your producing shift is to come ready with good story ideas. Ideally, you'll have a vision for what they could turn into with different b-roll shots, potential interviews and graphic ideas. Now, with the converged newsroom, even if you come in with a half-baked idea there are plenty of other minds in the room that can help you flush it out and turn it into a great one.   

Regardless of how much news you watch or how many different outlets are helping you cover a story, things happen. Sometimes you have a vision for a series of VOs and SOTs and then the elements don't come together in time to make air. Sometimes you have extra interviews you would love to put in your story but your show is already two minutes heavy and some of the other elements take priority. Other times, you are confronted with breaking news five minutes before your rundown is supposed to be final and you have to scramble. The news waits for no one and I'm trying to learn how to catch up. 

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