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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Devil is in the Details

Crafting a rundown, assigning stories, and going on the air are only primitive elements to producing a high quality newscast: Without careful copy editing and staying on top of other small details, your newscast can easily go down the poop hole. Here are seven vital -- yet small and easily overlookable-- things to consider at 4:00, when the race to the finish begins.

1. Anchor formatting

When assigning which anchor reads which story, be sure that the anchor column in the rundown matches the actual names in the script. Messing this up is a classic rookie mistake that can have devastating results for the flow of your newscast, because one anchor will speak but the other anchor will be on camera. 

2. Other anchor issues

Be sure to look carefully at all of the anchors at the desk before they go on air. Does one of them have too much of their IFB cord showing? Do they need to lower or raise their seats to be on the same level? Is their mic cord properly hidden? Is someone’s hair in the way? Let them know how their on-air presentation is, because the anchors are YOUR storytellers – no matter how well-written the stories are, they won’t be effective to the viewer if they are distracted by an anchor wardrobe malfunction.

3. Story formatting

Ensure that your macros (the little asterisks in iNews that accompany each VO, SOT, FS, etc.) are in properly; it’s easy to assume that a story is formatted as a SOT when you see the red letters “SOT” in the script, but without a macro it will not translate in the studio. Also ensure that the way each story was formatted in iNews is actually how it was edited and sent. This week, we almost had a major hiccup in our newscast because the Cold Open was formatted and written as a SOTVO but edited as just a SOT. 

4.  CGs, TRTs, runs, locators, outcues

These are essential, but easily forgotten. I get it – it’s easy to assume that you’re done with a story after you transfer it over in the editing booth, but you’re not. As the producer, you’ll be CERTAIN to come across at least one locator, CG, run, or outcue that was forgotten – so take 5 minutes to check for those before the show starts. 

5. Copy editing

Spelling errors, factual errors, CURRENT and up-to-date information, and broadcast style writing are some of the many things you should be on the lookout for when copy editing stories. Remember that the video teammate is easily one of the busiest people in the newsroom; he’s running back and forth between the newsroom and the editing booth, he’s checking in with a million MJs at once, and he’s constantly being interrupted and asked a thousand questions. Under those working conditions it’s not hard for a spelling or factual error to slip by him, so YOU will have to take a hands-on approach to dispelling those before 6pm hits.

6. Copy editing

This is so important I have to reiterate it twice. 


...And one more time, for those who think I’m kidding. Copy editing is probably the most important thing to do when the clock starts nearing show time. 

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