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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Know Your Job, And Know Your Teammates' Needs

Congratulations to Sam Smith on his big win at The Grammy Award! If you haven't had a chance to listen to his "I'm Not the Only One", here is the chorus of the song:

"You say, I'm crazy. 'Cause you don't think I know what you've done..."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about the Grammys or cheating here (this is an ATVN blog, anyway). All I'm trying to say is: In our newsroom, where lead, video, and web/graphics producers spend the whole day putting together a 30-minute newscast, it's going to be disastrous if we don't know what our fellow producers are doing and have done - that will definitely drive people crazy.

As video producer for Tuesday's newscast, I'm responsible for copy-editing scripts and making sure all videos are online and ready to go on the air. I'm glad to see we had the majority of videos done before 6 p.m., thanks to our lead producer, who constantly notified me of what videos he would like to use in teases and stories, and the graphics producer, who kindly reminded me of missing videos and offered me help during the day. Seamless communication is crucial to our success, it directly affects the quality of our show.

Had I had no idea of what changes the lead producer had made during the past hour, I probably would still have been working on a story or preshow that had been floated already. If my graphics teammate hadn't told me we were going to have a Skype interview at 12 p.m. in advance, I would have had no time to let our reporter and MJ know how to record a video on Skype. It's the communication and exchange of information that matter.

During the day, I constantly checked with the lead producer and made sure we both understand what was going on in the rundown. When a supertease didn't work because we didn't have enough video, we had a discussion and decided to tease another story. When CNN Newsource uploaded a new video of ISIS hostage in the morning, I notified the lead producer and added it to the story. He was also clear when he wanted a specific video, by putting down notes in iNews.

As for the graphics producer, I really appreciate it when she asked me if I needed any help with video from time to time. To be honest, I really hate it when it comes to 5 p.m. That's when I have to put aside my work at hand and show up in the control room. Our graphics producer and EP were the ones who took up my job and chased after reporters and MJs urging them to finish their work (I swear they weren't yelling). I'm very happy to see we, as a trio, had a strong sense of teamwork, and that really made a difference. 

Our debut wasn't flawless: there were CGs not properly done, budgeted time not spaced out, and videos having jump cuts, etc. I also had my own issue with time management: not proficient at multitasking and not efficiently allocating my time throughout the day.

But we as a team tried our best to present a qualified newscast. I believe as we all are getting more comfortable with our positions, we will pay more attention to details and have a better understanding of each other's job. A perfect show doesn't sound that hard to make as long as we always keep our communication channel open to one another. In that sense, we are more like working in an intelligence agency, because an impeccable show is produced only when the information flows.

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