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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

My Lessons Learned Turned Into Advice For You

Reality has just hit, but I think I'm in denial right now. My last show as a producer at ATVN was on Wednesday. Not only was it my last show as a producer, but my last show ever. ATVN has been a part of my time here at USC since my very first semester in spring of 2012. It feels like yesterday I was sitting at the assignment desk in the old Annenberg basement trying to get in contact with professors to comment on a story. 

It didn't really hit me that I'm graduating until after Wednesday night's show. But I'm getting too sentimental. This is supposed to be about the "newbies" coming in next semester to take Stacy's producing class not us old graduating seniors. Where do I even begin with advice on how to be successful in her class? There are so many suggestions but here are my top six. 

1. Get to know and love your "ride or dies," also known as your producing teammates. 

These people make your life so much easier and you're with them almost 12 hours out of the day, so learn to love them even if you don't. I think I've said this in every blog, but talk to them too. This isn't a library where you have to be quiet the whole time, so be sure to yell if you need to. Keeping in constant communication with people is the key to success for your newscast. You will learn how to work in a team and create the best content for the broadcast. 

2. Don't panic. 

Now the first show you're going to be asking yourself, what was Vanessa talking about? It's impossible not to panic when the top of your show isn't done by 5:30 pm. But just remember, it will get done. The thing about television is that it's exciting and nerve-racking but the worst thing you can do is panic. I panicked one time in the control room when the package at the top of my show wasn't in on time and I can promise you it never happened again. Lesson learned. The news is always unexpected so you just need to roll with the punches as a producer.  

3. Do not yell at people, specifically your MJs. 

These MJs are here to help you. If something comes back and it's not what you expected, don't yell at them. Instead of asking, "Didn't I tell you to get video of the kids playing basketball?" Ask "Why didn't you get video of the kids playing basketball?" A lot of the times, some of the MJs just forget because they are learning. Always, always, always keep that in mind. This is not NBC Nightly News, so don't act like it is. It is definitely a bummer when something doesn't turn out exactly how you wanted or an MJ or reporter doesn't get that sound bite you really wanted for your cold open, but turn it into a teaching moment rather than a yelling moment. 

4. Have fun with social media! 

This will be one of your jobs on the rotation to be the graphics/social media teammate. I think we get caught up in trying to just accomplish our assignments for our producing shift and don't think about the fun we can have with social media. Come up with creative ideas to post for your assignments instead of the regular selfie video teases from reporters and MJs. 

5. Always remember, you are a leader and people look up to you. 

Try to think back to when you were an MJ. Did you like the producers who sat down and helped you and worked with you? Or did you like producers who were frantic and yelling all the time? Probably the ones who sat down and helped you and seemed like they really cared. Like I wrote earlier, the MJs are learning and they're going to look to you to learn from. Some will be very eager to learn and some won't. Either way, just try to help them. For those who aren't eager to learn, try to get them to be eager. You can get mad at the MJs who aren't doing work and just sitting around (yes this does happen), but don't dwell on it. Try to get them to do something and move on. 

6. Don't take anything for granted. 

This is such a cliche and I think I just threw up in my mouth as I wrote it, but it's so true. This is my last piece of advice, probably because I'm a senior, but enjoy every single second of being in that newsroom. I can now say I completely regret not being a part of the new Annenberg Media Center in the fall semester of 2014. I decided I wanted to take a break and I should have never done it. I missed out on a semester of learning in the new converged newsroom. The semester that you produce will go by so fast. Try anything and everything that you want to. If you want to have a live shot, then do it. If you want to have two live shots with the same person just in a different location, then do it. If you want to have the Trojan Marching Band in studio to perform, get them in there! The possibilities are endless in the newsroom, so take full advantage of it. Don't tell yourself you'll wait until next time because soon enough, there won't be any more "next times." 

This producing class is going to be a roller coaster, but it's going to be the best roller coaster you've ever been on. If you don't like roller coasters, I'm sorry, but maybe it will be the best car ride you've been on with hills involved. Some days you're going to hate life and want to have about 10 cocktails after the newscast, but other days are going to be the days you remember forever. But love all the days because every single one of them you will learn at least one thing. OUTCUE=SIG OUT. Vanessa Gomez, ATVN. 

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