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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

To Be Continued...

Wow. I can't believe I finally produced my last show. Looking back, I almost wish we had a few extra weeks. I wouldn't mind sitting in each seat one last time.

(Team Tuesday on our last day.)
(Team Tuesday on our last day.)

The time goes by so quickly. Whether you're in the newsroom or the studio, it seems as if everything is happening at a rapid pace. Here are a few tips for you future producers out there. You're in for a wild ride, but I promise it's worth it!

Let's start off with the basics. Package ideas and morning meetings.

Preparing for the Morning Meeting

1. Check the budget for early stories. Whether it's a protest or court case, often times you may want to cover something that happens at 8AM or even earlier. Knowing them the day before gives you the chance to set up the elements you want for the story. Call the contact number for more information. Let your MJs know ahead of time so they're on time and prepared the next day!

2. Watch the 11PM show the night before. Make a bullet point of all the stories. This way, you have a better idea of what's coming tomorrow. The night before is the easy part!

3. Wake up early to watch the 6AM. Do the same thing and continue down that bullet point list. Between commercial breaks, transfer the bullet points you're making to your storylist of package ideas.

4. Surf the web. Look at the LA Times, local TV stations and even Twitter. I like to go to Google News when it comes to finding the little stories to fill up your storylist. You never know if there's a specific topic you'll need some more information on.

5. Look through the budget again. I tend to get a lot of my package ideas from the budget. Some events, especially those union rallies, offer great visuals and soundbites. Mark up the stories you want to head out to.

6. Start thinking of the elements you already want for stories you are looking to put in the newscast. It's always better to be prepared.

7. CONTRIBUTE! Nothing's worse than feeling like you're in a morning meeting alone. Even if you're just brainstorming on the stop, don't be afraid to speak up. At ATVN, we learn from our mistakes. Mistakes are what make us better!

8. Check the ATVN newscasts from the nights before. We don't want to repeat anything!

(Team Tuesday has a great breaking news face.)
(Team Tuesday has a great breaking news face.)

Web/Graphics Teammate

1. Start sending out important tweets/facebook posts early on. Maybe even before the morning meeting! If you know for sure there are people we will want to talk to, get those requests out as early as possible.

2. Post/assign stories during the morning meeting. I know sometimes it can difficult to multitask. You need to concentrate on the meeting but somehow find time to post 4 stories before noon. Plus, sometimes the meetings run long and you end up with only a few hours to get everything online. Assign the stories you know you'll want once you get there!

3. Put stories in the web rundown throughout the meeting. Be proactive as the web/graphics teammate. Don't wait until the end to decide which stories go on the web. Keep checking with your team as you think of new elements.

4. LOCAL. LOCAL. LOCAL. The stories that give us the most web traffic come from local news! Whether it's on campus or in the LA area, we are USC's first source. Think of your audience when it comes to choosing stories for the web.

5. Visuals. Remember, you will need one photo in the story and another as a thumbnail. Keep that in mind when it comes to choosing stories for the web.

6. Do your own reporting. We don't want to just regurgitate an AP or CNS wire. We're reporters! Encourage your team to make some calls. Ask your friends about a campus story. Reach out to the resources you have available!

7. Get videos up. We often focus so much on the broadcast, but sometimes those stories can end up being old news. So when an MJ/reporter comes back with more/new information, update your story with photos, videos and quotes!

8. Tweet, Facebook and Instagram. Social media is the future.

Video Teammate

1. Know which MJs you want to send to each story. While the morning meeting is going down, look at the schedule and think of which events you can cover. Do you need a car? Can you bus it? What stories are more important than others? These are important issues to think about early on. Be realistic.

2. Request all the CNN video available first. Start looking for sound and video that you know you'll need. For stories such as the Boston Bombings, we knew we had to grab file footage week after week. It's important to know what you have early on and check for updates later.

3. Make a list of all the video you request. It's easy to get lost when you're ordering so much video and keeping track of all the elements. I always like to make a list of the video I have and the elements within each video that I want. Say President Obama had a great quote I wanted to use, copy and paste that so you won't forget when you assign it to an MJ later.

4. Communicate with your lead. It is HIS/HER show. Yes, often times you are simply asked to pick the 'best sound' or 'best video'. But it's extremely important to make sure your lead knows what information you have. The lead should know what he/she wants in the newscast.

5. Use the writers column. It's a great way to keep track of who's doing what. Start filling the column out even before your MJs come in so you're prepared to give an assignment right away. I would often print/find the wires and put the slugs up at the top of the page so I was ready right when an MJ came in for their shift (check for updates of course).

6. Runs. Outcue. TRT. CG. NOTHING is DONE without all of the above. Trust no one and always check for them!

7. Before you leave and pass off to the web/graphics teammate, put the remaining stories up on the board and the assigned people next to them! Clear communication is always important.

Lead Producer

1. Be confident. Always, always come in prepared for the morning meeting. Remember, it's YOUR show and people will be asking you for direction throughout the day. Know what you want and be confident in your decision. If there's a good reason, people will back you up. Don't be afraid!

2. Put all the slugs in right after the meeting and develop/organize them later. This will make things easier for your Video Teammate to assign the stories. It's always better when things are in the rundown early on.

3. Develop every story! Yes, sometimes we won't have the elements we want, but put those lines in anyway. If an expert doesn't get back to us, we'll figure it out when the time comes. It's important to fully develop every story. You'd rather float something you didn't get later than to not have even tried to get the element at all.

4. Always think of BOTH SIDES. There's almost always both sides to every story. Everyone has an opinion. Put lines in!

5. Don't be afraid to break down a package. Sometimes it's better to split things up to clarify things for your audience. Sometimes we even want two anchors to split up the story if there are many elements to cover! And, in this week's case, sometimes a package is only the beginning and putting in lines after will help shape your coverage. Don't try to fit everything into 1:30.

6. Communicate with your team. Whenever changes are made, or if you expect something specific, let your team know. Nothing is worse than expecting something from a specific story and seeing something different in the studio.

7. Don't be afraid to ask questions. This one goes to all the producers. Stacy and Serena aren't that scary! They're there to help you and answer questions. It's better to ask early on than to scramble late in the day!

Producing is challenging! Many of you may feel burned out at the end of the day. But when you see a successful show, that feeling when you leave the newsroom confident, that rush when you get when you see your show go perfectly in the studio, it's all worth it.

I always say I love being a reporter because I often leave the newsroom unsure and come back feeling accomplished. The same goes for producing. To start off with nothing every morning and finishing it off with all the hard work throughout the day, the experience is rewarding.

Final tip? Don't forget to thank your team. Everyone is important when it comes to putting your newscast together. Thanks Team Tuesday! I couldn't have done it without you :)

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