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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Capturing Our Audience

Even after completing my second turn being the lead producer, I still feel like I have so much to learn. I’m slowly but surely gaining confidence in my executive decisions regarding the stories we cover and the elements we exclude. That being said, although there were debatably many other stories strong enough to lead the show this week, I strongly stand by my decision.

The lead story Wednesday covered the deadly hit and run that happened at the intersection of 23rd Street and Portland Street, which is only a few blocks North of campus. While I originally didn’t have this story leading the rundown, the reporter (Patricia Silva) packaging the story informed me she was able to get interviews with family members of the victim. Also, the surveillance video of the accident was released by the Los Angeles Police Department. These two factors, along with the fact that it took place so close to campus, were the reasons behind my decision to lead the show with this story. 

With the latest development being the surveillance video, we started the top of the show with a cold open featuring the footage and introducing the story. This then led into the anchor welcome and was followed by Patricia’s package, which featured recounts of the accident from witnesses along with reaction from family members mourning their loss. 

We used social media throughout the day to not only promote the story, but to investigate and to report. At the beginning of the day, we posted on Twitter and Facebook asking if anyone saw the accident or was at the scene of the crime and whether he or she would be willing to speak with us. Patricia also tweeted information from the field about the memorial the victim’s family had set up on the corner where the accident took place. We also tweeted out the surveillance video when it was released by LAPD and posted the content on Facebook.  

While the nail-biting finish of the USC Men’s Basketball game was a huge breaking news story Wednesday and is a story that greatly appeals to our audience, I didn’t feel like it was strong enough to replace the hit and run story as the show's lead. I felt our coverage on the hit and run was uniquely geared toward our audience and also helped introduce other stories we covered Wednesday, including transitioning into coverage of the Black Hawk helicopter crash in Florida. Although the basketball game was an amazing upset for the Trojans versus the Arizona State Sun Devils, I was confident in my decision to keep the story in the C-block and simply tease it throughout the show to keep people hooked.   

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