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

Late Breaking News for Late Breaking Leads

This week I served as lead producer for the first time at ATVN.

To prepare for my assigned role, I started by frantically going through as much news as possible on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

By the time I got to the newsroom at 7:40 am on Thursday, I felt prepared to create a day’s worth of stories, and I knew I wanted to lead with the Sequester because it did not look like it was going to pass (and it didn’t) but also because it had a broad reach, impacting everyone in one way or another.

However, by the time it was 8 am, my plans for the lead story had already changed. All of our Team Thursday reporters were out, and we had to rely on an anchor package, which could not be started until 12:30 pm. It was already looking bleak for a Sequester story lead.

As the day progressed, there was still no clear frontrunner for the lead story.

The original idea to do a local medical angle for the Sequester story fell through because no researchers or healthcare organizations were willing to speak with us.

Moreover, our only package about an adult education protest also fell through because the protesters were gone by the time the reporter could make it to the scene.

It was about this time that I had to do some quick thinking because news began breaking left and right.

President Obama publicly came out against Proposition 8, the ban on gay marriage, which is great California-angled story. The Las Vegas strip shooter was caught, but in North Hollywood, not in Las Vegas. A 25-year lawsuit by the first openly gay Los Angeles Police Department officer was finally settled. And a juror was removed from the Bell trial, and the jurors were also deadlocked.

For me, choosing a lead then came down to the elements we could get, and the relevance of the stories to USC students. 

With no packages, and a bunch of late breaking stories, my Sequester lead of that morning seemed out of the running.

I eventually decided, in the rundown meeting at that, to lead with the Vegas shooting. For me this story was recent, as in it broke later in the day. It also had an appeal to USC students who always seem to be travelling to and from Las Vegas. However, what really made the story stand out was that the shooter was caught in North Hollywood, another place frequented by USC students.

In the end, I was happy with my choice for lead. It seemed the show’s crew had not yet heard that the Vegas shooter was arrested, and they were suprised he was caught so close to Los Angeles.

My biggest take away from picking a lead story this week is to always remain flexible. Because news can break in an instant, a producer has to be willing to adapt and change their stories throughout the day. 

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.