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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

You Can Do It!

It's hard to believe how quickly my semester as an ATVN producer flew by. It has been a real adventure, a worthy challenge and an unforgettable learning opportunity. Here are a few pieces of advice to help future producers get the most out of the experience:
  1. Get to know (and learn to love) your team. You and your producing teammates, executive producer and executive producer shadow are about to get really cozy in the newsroom. The fact of the matter is, once you've seen each other at 7:45 am and spent 12 hours in a basement together, there's no going back. From day one, treat your team like your friends, even if you don't think of them that way yet. Before you know it, you will consider them your best buddies. Teammates depend on each other in every possible way, so the more you enjoy being around them, the more you're willing and able to have each other's backs when you need it.
  2. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Producing is all about trying things out for yourself. You can read a dozen handouts and watch a hundred newscasts, but until you're in the hot seat, you won't really know how scary and exhilerating it can be. It's a tough job and there are so many things to remember and keep track of. Don't be afraid to ask questions and never put yourself down for making a mistake. It's called a learning lab for a reason. You can try and fail and still succeed, as long as you learn and improve the next time around.
  3. Be the "doer." In the newsroom, it's easy to tell who's "into it" and who's not. There are people who will sit back and meander through their shift and there are people who are there to make it happen. Be the person that pushes your news team forward. Be vocal, be enthusiastic, be brave. Come to work every day with a "can-do" attitude. When you're short-staffed or running out of time, focus on what you can do, not what you can't. And then, here's the it! There's nothing better than a producer who can make and execute a decision under the toughest pressure and maximize even the most limited resources. Don't hesitate to crank out a story script, edit a video or drop in a CG if you see that no one else is around to get it done. You are a leader in the newsroom, but oftentimes, you have to be a "doer" too.
  4. Keep calm. The newsroom is a stressful environment where people show their true colors under pressure. If you ever get frustrated, whether it's with someone else, yourself or just the equipment, step back for a minute and take some deep breaths. It doesn't help to raise your voice or get snappy. The most effective producer is one that exudes calm and stability, because this reassures others that you are in control. That being said, the newsroom can get tense and tempers do flare up, so if they do, always remember to smooth things over after the show. Most of the time it's saying something as simple as, "I know things were really stressful today, but thanks for working with me through it. I couldn't have done it without you."
  5. Praise your staff. At ATVN, we see a lot of mistakes. The first few weeks are especially tough, because you and your team's technical skills aren't up to par yet with your vision of how you want the newscast to turn out. While it's easy to focus on what went wrong in your newscast, it's more important and productive to focus on what went right. Even the smallest thing done right deserves praise. Point out to an MJ which parts of their script you like, even if you have to change some of it. Take the time to text your reporters after the show and tell them what you liked about their package. Recognizing good work boosts morale and reinforces excellence. 
  6. Say "thank you" every chance you get. Whether it's the assignment desk, MJ's, reporters, anchors, producers, EP's, Serena, Stacy, Tom, John, Bianca or the pizza delivery man, saying thank you goes a long way. Say thank you more often than you think you should and say it like you mean it. In the heat of the moment or after a long day, it's easy to take people for granted. Expressing gratitude is a reminder to your staff that you appreciate them and their hard work every day.
  7. Have fun!
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