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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Great Research Makes a Compelling Show

Finding good stories is the key to having an interesting newscast. Without engaging content, the newscast lacks value. To find package ideas, I’ve found that it’s best to look for stories the morning of our newscast instead of trying to find ideas the night before. This means on our day of air I need to wake up pretty early, but then I can guarantee all the stories are relevant and timely. I love getting ahead on homework and trying to complete work before it’s due, but I have found that doing that for ATVN isn’t beneficial to me. 

When I wake up on Thursday mornings, I immediately read the New York Times Thursday briefing, a twice daily email that briefly explains the top stories of the day. This email helps me find information for my story list. Usually the briefing helps me with international and national stories. 

While I’m drinking my morning coffee and eating breakfast, I stream the local NBC newscast on my phone. I love listening to the morning stories while I wakeup, and sometimes I find great package ideas here. 

I also check Twitter and TweetDeck for stories. I’ve found TweetDeck is a great resource, as I can search for specific word mentions. I have refined searches for “Los Angeles” and “USC,” which come in handy when I’m looking for local stories that our reporters can package.

I’ve found that stories other outlets have packaged or are starting to package are great for the newscast. Also, stories based on trends or recent studies are very interesting. Usually stories that are based on events, such as press conferences, are not that strong. Reporters can tell compelling stories when there are chances to get multiple elements at different locations. I do think events are great to cover, but I haven’t found that the best packages come from events.

Our package ideas are what drive the newscast, so I’ve realized it’s important to come in with well thought out ideas. Sometimes I think of good package ideas later in the day, but at that point the reporters have usually already been sent out. For example, last week we sent a reporter to cover a fun, light-hearted Halloween story at the LA Zoo. Once we sent her out, I realized that was a terrible idea and that we should have used our reporter for a hard news story that could for sure be used in our newscast. The LA Zoo story was perfect for our kicker, but we shouldn’t have sent a reporter to that event. Luckily, she was able to work on a hard news story after leaving the zoo.

You can count on me to be up at 6 a.m. next Thursday!
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