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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Research is key for story ideas


Pitching story ideas is what can make or break a newscast.  If you put in the time and energy to research stories the night before the morning meeting, it makes the newscast run more smoothly the next day.  If little to no research is done, it makes the day more stressful and chaotic for people working in the newsroom.

As lead producer on Monday, it was difficult to develop new stories that had not already been done about the firing of Lane Kiffin.  However, thanks to our sports anchor James Santelli, we were able to collaborate to produce several stories on Kiffin, including talking with USC alumni football players, talking with students, listing potential new candidates, and talking about our interim coach, Ed Orgeron.  

But, there were stories we pitched in the meeting that we thought would be easy to cover, which turned out not to be the case.  On Sunday night, I assigned one of our reporters, Julia Deng, to cover a story on elementary school truancy.  What I didn't realize, was that no elementary schools would talk to us about the case.  Thankfully at the last minute, Julia was able to interview an education expert to complete her package.  

In the end, I've learned that it pays off to contact people the night before the newscast.  While I assumed Julia's story wouldn't be too difficult to cover, it turned out to be almost impossible to cover.  While I wasn't the video lead this week, it also helps to put developing stories in the runsheet before the web supervisor comes in later in the afternoon.  This week's newscast has proved to be an experience I can learn from and work to improve on in the future.     

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