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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Advice For Future Producers

As I wrap up my experience at ATVN as a producer, here are some tips I'd like to pass along to future producers. Firstly, it's not as intimidating as it may seem, come in with an open mind. Try and enjoy yourself and embrace the learning experience. Obviously, it is a huge time commitment each and every week, so make sure you put yourself in the best possible position to walk away feeling rewarded at the end of each shift. 

1. Don't be Afraid to Take Risks -- Keep in mind this is not the real world and you can't be fired for making a mistake. I know it may feel like it sometimes and you should treat it like it is a real job, but also keep in mind that you are still a student and this is a learning environment where it is okay if things do not go 100% perfect every single week. One of the biggest pieces of advice I have is to mix up your newscast and try and make it as interesting and dynamic as possible by taking a few risks. For example, bring in a live guest and add a Q&A segment on the couch. Use more jib camera shots. Toss to a reporter live in the Media Center or out in the field. Put one of your anchors at the monitor. Switch around your teases. ATVN is a great place to learn and grow and you shouldn't be scared to try new things and be innovative with your shows. 

2. Make Sure You Have Snacks & Water -- It is not realistic that you will be able to leave to get lunch during your producing shift. Each producer has a million things to do and keep track of, and those tasks become even tougher to manage if you are not well hydrated or if you're hungry. Come prepared and bring lunch (Tom will let you use his microwave if you ask really nicely :)), snacks, and water, gatorade, coffee, or whatever else you think you'll need throughout the day. Some days you barely have time to take a quick bathroom break. Regardless, try and make a little time for yourself and take care of your needs as well. There are also a lot of germs that can be passed around the Media Center, so I'd recommend bringing some hand sanitizer so you can try and avoid whatever flu or cold is going around. 

3. Prepare in Advance When Possible -- With such a big time commitment on your day-of-air producing shift, it can make it difficult to do much preparation in advance, but it will really help you out and alleviate a lot of stress if you come in every morning feeling prepared and have a strong grip on the stories you want to cover and how exactly you plan to do so. Keep up with the local, national and international news on a regular basis, not just the night before your shift. It will help you stay in the loop and be an informed producer. Also, try and arrange interviews ahead of time when possible, or at least start the process of reaching out to potential sources before you arrive in the Media Center at 8 a.m. 

4. Be Organized -- When you are working as a producer at ATVN it can be overwhelming at times because you have so many things to manage at once. I recommend keeping a to do list or some sort of check list to make sure you have a strong grip on what you still need to do and which reporter/MJ/assignment editor/web producer is working on which aspect of the newscast. This will really help you when things get hectic. I use a to do list every week, no matter which producing role I am in and it's a big help throughout the day. 

5. Communicate and Enjoy Yourself -- I know there are a lot of things to worry about and stay on top of during your producing shift, but try and make time to communicate with your other producers and have some fun along the way! Also, get to know your MJs and reporters and when possible try and develop some personal rapport with them. People can work much better together when you like each other and feel comfortable around each other. Embrace your experiences and make some friends along the way! 

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