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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Catching a Break

Call me an adventure junkie, but each time I hear a wire come in, each time I hear that that 'beep beep' go off from iNews, part of me hopes it's a big story that will change everything.

Maybe it's the excitement surrounding breaking news, maybe I just like working under pressure or maybe I enjoy stressing myself and my team out. Whatever it is, I live for those moments. Thankfully, this semester has had its fair share of excitement.

As journalists, we live for the next big story. The frenzy of the newsroom, the action out on the field... it's what makes every day so different from the next. Everything and anything we do beats a desk job with the same boring routine. If I've learned anything, it's to always be prepared. 

The Dorner Manhunt. The Boston Bombings. The Texas Explosion. Each story broke at its own pace, and each story developed with time. New elements came in on a daily, or even hourly basis. The key to telling each story successfully was to be ready.

Take a deep breath and put in the elements you want and need. It's your show! You decide what goes into it. Think about your audience, think about your top story and go from there.

If you look at the Boston Bombings, so much has changed in a week. Just yesterday, we broke down the story by giving the nuts and bolts, providing updates on the investigation, intertwining interviews and including the aftermath.

The boat owner who found one of the suspects spoke out for the first time. The MIT officer and eight-year-old boy were remembered. And local businesses and families briefly returned to Boylston Street.

During the morning meeting, we barely even mentioned Boston. We knew we wanted to provide some updates, but the rundown only had a few lines and the show remained light. By the end of the day, it was a top story again and it made up almost the entire A block.

Things changed throughout the day and we learn to adapt to every situation. Whether it's assigning someone to a new element of the story or never burying the lead in the anchor intro, these are things we've learned to do on a regular basis.

It's about staying calm throughout the process and doing the best you can. Yelling and freaking out doesn't do any good for anyone.

Interviews may fall through and I promise you the rundown will never stay the same. But if you're ready for what happens, if you at least try and prepare yourself, if you state the facts, you'll have a show you're proud of.

Next week, it'll be my last week producing at ATVN. As planned, I'll be the lead producer. I'm hoping for some breaking news. Anyone with me?

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