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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

The Lead Story Should Engage The Viewer

At this point in the semester, I like to think I finally have the hang of things. I am by no means saying that I don't need to work on anything as a producer but I know what my job is and what I need to get done each week as each teammate. This week, we didn't have any breaking news so our lead story stayed the same throughout the day.  It was a hit and run that killed one man right near campus Tuesday night. I was not the lead teammate for this week, so I didn't choose it myself but I think Kaiti made the right choice.

When choosing a lead story, I usually think about what will USC students care about most. In this case, no USC students were involved in the crash, but DPS responded to the scene and it happened right by campus. We were notified late Tuesday night, so I think it was definitely the right choice for the lead story because some students want to know exactly what happened after they get an emergency text from DPS like they did Tuesday night.

For this particular show, we had a reporter out on the story, so she tweeted about the story and ATVN's account retweeted it. I think there could have definitely been more tweets and a Facebook post about the hit and run, but it's something to think about for the next week. The producers and I checked in on Patricia Silva, who was on the story, multiple times in the day and she was really good about keeping in communication with everyone. We always knew where she was at and what footage she had.

It definitely made our lives easier as producers because she was on top of things. If she wasn't and I was lead producer for that day, I would have either changed the lead or encouraged her to get more elements in order to make the story better. The lead story is the beginning of the show and if you don't grab your viewer in the beginning, then they will just change the channel.

The one thing that happened right before the show started that didn't affect the lead story but affected the top of the show was the USC men's basketball game in the Pac-12 Tournament. The game was very intense and it felt like everyone in the Media Center just stopped to watch the final seconds. Nothing mattered to anyone in that moment except for the result of the game. It was actually a picture perfect moment if anyone had thought to take a picture or video and capture what was happening. It was the final 10 seconds of the game and the score was 67 to 64 with USC in the lead. One player from Arizona State University went in for the layup and USC's Nikola Jovanovic blocked the shot and the Media Center erupted into cheers. It was definitely a moment I won't forget as a producer. This was breaking news for sports, so we added it in the newscast and replaced one of the preshow teases with footage from the game.

As producers, we had to be careful not to get caught up in the excitement too much though because the show was not done yet and most importantly, the lead story wasn't done. Eventually an MJ ended up finishing it because Patricia had to go into the studio, but it's important as a producer that no matter what happens before the show, you have to try and stay as focused as you can. 

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