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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

USC's First Source for News

A great newscast is made up of stories that are valuable to our audience. Although we are “USC’s First Source for News,” ATVN’s coverage targets and impacts more than just the people who live, work and study on campus. Our audience includes the surrounding community and residents across L.A. and Southern California. When our content is posted on the web, our reach is national and global.

As a student-produced newscast, we have our fair share of limitations. Our staff is comprised of busy, ambitious college students who divide their time among many different commitments. Our technology allows us to produce newscasts that look and sound great, but it is not always dependable. Our journalists are at various stages of experience and sometimes we have to work on basic reporting skills before we can tackle more advanced and ambitious reporting.

That being said, our overall news coverage is definitely competitive with professional news stations. On a daily basis, our multimedia journalists and reporters are out in the field alongside the top L.A. stations on big local stories. We often use our extensive personal and professional networks to find people outside of our immediate community, which adds value to national and international stories. Most importantly, we are strong at “owning” USC news because it is a foundational part of our role as the only campus TV station. ATVN is a hybrid of a campus station, a local station and an online news outlet. Those three elements together form our unique identity.

This week, the first three stories in our newscast were valuable to our audience. They also highlighted our strengths as a news team. As lead producer, I was confident we successfully delivered the most important and relevant news early in the show.

The lead story about the closure of emergency rooms impacted communities across Southern California. Every single person, regardless of age, race, creed, gender or any other factor, should care when patients are being turned away from urgent care, because we all need healthcare. The reporter’s package was balanced and compelling. It also incorporated clear and informative graphics to aid our audience’s understanding of the closures.

The second story covered a rally by a group of cafeteria workers at Pomona College who were looking to unionize. I liked this as the second story, because it was a hard news story with a human angle. It was particularly important because it impacted a university community that is much like our own at USC. Plus, Los Angeles is well known for its strong labor unions, so it is definitely a story a professional local station would cover. One of our limitations as a station is often the lack of people resources to cover a wider region of Southern California, but for this story, with sharp planning and organization, our reporter was able to make it to Pomona and back with time to spare.

The third story showcased the official welcome for new USC basketball coach Andy Enfield. The great thing about USC sports stories is that they are often national stories as well. Our coverage is highly relevant to our immediate community, yet also extends throughout the sports world. Other news organizations view ATVN Sports as a credible source of news, because we can be first on the scene, we have knowledge of what’s going on right on our campus and we have strong ties with the USC athletic department.

The rest of our show was also very strong this week, which I think is a testament to the entire team. We had a great mix of more local, national and international news. Every week, the show contains so many moving parts and it gets more and more complicated as the semester progresses. We are improving a lot on paying careful attention and making every story count.

All of that being said, please read my co-producer Lillian’s explanation of the big crisis in the control room that crippled our live show this week. The technical failure was out of our hands, but I am still very proud of us for putting our hearts into every second of our show.

At the end of the day, a great newscast resonates with the people long after the credits roll. We should aim to tell our audience information that they didn’t even know they wanted to know. It is our responsibility to capture and keep their attention with compelling visuals, thoughtful writing and truly interesting content. Every week, more and more of our newscast fits this mission and I could not be more proud.

One of our greatest strengths as a news team is our common interest in learning about and creating Journalism (with a capital “J”). Whether it’s a hard news story that our audience needs to know, a weather forecast to help people plan their weekend, a sports story that shakes up the sports world or just a fun human interest story that puts a smile on someone’s face, ATVN is a unique opportunity for us to collaborate as a team and connect with our community. In the coming weeks, I look forward to continually improving the quality of our work and reinforcing our brand as “USC’s First Source for News.”

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