As the lead producer, the hardest challenge of the day is deciding which story on your rundown is the most important, and should ultimately be the lead story for the show. Generally, it's easy to separate the more serious 'A block' stories from the lighter 'C or D block' stories. However, the real challenge comes in ordering the former – how do you rank the importance of A block stories, especially when they may be completely different, but still provide incredibly significant content? For example, imagine Hurricane Maria made landfall in Florida on the same day as the wildfires erupted in Northern California. Which would be your lead story?
This may be an extreme example, but it just goes to show how difficult this decision can be. However, as the lead producer for a college news production like ATVN, the closer the story is to the heart of USC, and what our student body wants to listen to, the better. In the case of the above situation, that probably means choosing the devastating fires as your lead; after all, they're occurring in the same state, and USC has a massive population of students from Northern California. This is not to say that Hurricane Maria's wreckage in Miami is not important; it's just simply not as close to home as the fires.
Consequently, I would say that location and relevancy to USC are two of the most important criteria when choosing the lead story for the day. Timeliness is also another crucial factor. For example, would you place a massive protest happening on campus today against the Keck dean above a story about the current death toll in the Northern California fires which first developed five days ago? Although the death toll may be horrifying, and occurring in our state, this protest is happening right now, literally at our doorstep, and involves over 200 students. As a result, I'd choose the protest, not only because of relevancy to USC, but mainly because of timeliness.
Sometimes, however, visuals can also hugely influence your lead story. On a couple of the days that I assumed the role of video teammate, I realized that there was limited CNN video on the chosen lead story, and/or video shot by a reporter, anchor or multimedia journalist was not of amazing quality. I obviously relayed this information to my lead producer, and more often than not, changes to the rundown order and lead story were made. After all, compelling video is what draws viewers into a show. As a result, the video teammate can potentially play an important role in helping the lead producer select the lead story for the day.
Ultimately, choosing a lead story can be incredibly difficult. For me, once I evaluate the criteria of location, relevance to USC, timeliness and visuals/video, I know that I can lead my show to success.