Skip navigation
Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Lead With What Most Relates To Your Viewer

The top of the show is your do or die moment--it's the first impression and determines whether or not a viewer will stay tuned.  That's why your lead needs to have it all: a compelling topic, great sound, captivating video and strong writing.

Wednesday's show had quite a bit of news and, to our advantage, a good deal of USC-related news.  The Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to Trojan professor Arieh Warshel; our football team hosted a pep rally featuring the marching band, song girls and players; and Wednesday marked the tenth day of the government shutdown.  There was strong content to choose from for the lead, and it was imperative that we keep our viewers in mind when deciding what's at the top of our show.

We decided to open the show with the chemistry professor who won a nobel prize.  Did it fit the lead criteria?  It was a compelling topic.  We had good sound from the winner himself, his chemistry students and university president Max Nikias. The video wasn't terribly captivating, but the topic itself and how it hit close to home (or right at home) outweighed that factor.  And the writing was clear. 

I think the most important part of the story was speaking to his students.  How incredible is it that Trojans are learning from a Nobel Prize recipient?  If I was a viewer (which, I guess, technically I am since I watch the show in the control room), I would want to watch the newscast because the biggest story pertained to my school, my education and my Trojan pride.  As newscasters, we don't just give people information they need, we also give them information they want to hear. 

Opening with the Nobel Prize story also made for a smooth transition into the football excitement on campus.  The positive tone from the first package flowed into the excitement for what people are calling the "Coach O Era." That then segued nicely into the rest of our content.

A lead story needs to grab and sustain your attention.  I believe our Nobel Prize story did just that.

Leave a comment

We've Moved!

By Sam Bergum
01/21/16 | 11:09 a.m. PST

Visit us at!

USC Basketball Knocks Off Rival UCLA 89- 75

By Scott Cook
01/14/16 | 12:05 a.m. PST

USC defeats UCLA with stellar play from their Freshmen. 

Holiday Bowl - USC vs Wisconsin Post-Game Press Conference

Su'a Cravens: "It's the players that need to step up"

Darreus Rogers: "It comes down to the players"

Trojans Fall to Wisconsin in the Holiday Bowl 23-21

We detected that you might be on a mobile device such as an iPad or iPhone. Sorry, at this time the video box is only visible on desktop computers.