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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Tackling Big Stories

When it comes to tackling big, breaking stories, I learned it is a team effort. In the heat of the moment, stations are reporting different facts, the wires may not have particularly helpful information and no matter how many sources you call, you can’t get a straight answer. Therefore, in order to create a well-rounded, substantial report of the day’s events, it is essential that everyone show up ready to work.

Next time a big story breaks, I’m going to want to hold a brief but important newsroom meeting. I want everyone, particularly the MJs, to know what is going on and how important it is that they do their absolute best work. I need them to know that today, more than ever, they cannot slack off.

I know that when I was covering the CSU-LA bomb threat, some MJs did not seem to get that this was a time sensitive story. In retrospective, instead of raising my voice to hurry them along, I should have just explained the situation, and why the story was so important. I need to have the faith in my team to be able to pull through, like they ultimately did. 

Secondly, I need to be able to trust my reporters to get stories done and make them look and sound good, and luckily I can. Last week Joy was ready to go and tackle a bomb threat on CSU-LA’s campus. She is an excellent reporter and was able to get great interviews, decent Broll, and most importantly she got the story done on time.

I don’t know how many people can trust their reporters with breaking news like I can trust Joy (and Irene as well) ; however, I know that in a breaking news story, I will be able to get the most important information to the viewer because of them.

And lastly, even though the Team Thursday MJs and Reporters can put a story together brilliantly, it still takes some luck. I had our assignment desk workers calling for information, and we had other people perusing Twitter as well. But sometimes it’s just a little bit of “pixie dust” that the person we stop to interview has a great story or a new tidbit of information.

I’m not saying that as a newsroom we should rely on luck because that is absolutely not the case; however, sometimes your coverage of a story stands out because of something that happened by chance. 

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