Producing television newscasts teaches you a lot of specific TV skills. Things like the jargon we use, how to make a graphic, how to make a line in iNews – nitty-gritty technical skills that are vital to getting the show on air, but may not transfer over into other jobs. More importantly, it teaches you skills that are universal – they'll benefit you whether you choose to work in TV news, journalism in general or other fields entirely.
You learn how to organize people and materials, prioritize information and communicate effectively – skills that are valuable in any job. One I'd like to focus more on is writing.
Writing is, of course, at the heart of journalism. It's all about taking facts, context and firsthand accounts and weaving them into a story. The goal is to inform people, and hopefully make them care. It's a part of the job that never fails to excite me. And being a good writer makes you much more effective at it.
In my shift as a producer, I'm required to write one story, plus the first few lines of our newscast and the teases, which show viewers what's coming up. Writing all of these elements requires knowledge of what the stories are, what original elements we're using to tell them, what angles we're taking, what video we have, what the best video is – I could go on. You have to really know the stories.
It also requires editorial judgment: what is the most exciting part of each story? How can I present this to viewers so they want to watch more, either out of interest or urgency? Usually this judgment has to be made in a limited amount of time. There's a lot to do and very little time to do it, especially when news breaks late in the day.
And if all that weren't enough, the writing has to be conversational, concise and sharp. It has to sound good and sell the story, often in less than ten seconds. In short, there's a lot to juggle.
Writing is something I'm working on now, and I'm sure it's something I'll always be practicing. It's a muscle that I want to make stronger, especially in a pinch. As someone who wants to be a TV producer, this is essential. But even if I weren't interested in TV, it's still a valuable skill to have.
Writing isn't something you can escape outside of journalism. There will always be emails to be written, flyers to be made or proposals to be drafted. Written communication is at the heart of many jobs. Knowing how to write well or tell a story in a way that's easy for people to understand is valuable, and it will serve me well wherever I work.