When selecting the lead story for a newscast, I believe that the most important factors include immediacy, the number of people that the story impacts, as well as the visual elements available to complement the story. To start, while immediacy and a "today element" for a story should always be a point of emphasis, I believe that it is even more vital for the lead story. For instance, I'd be more inclined to use a lead story that breaks in the late afternoon compared to one that broke earlier in the morning or late the night before. Also, I'd likely choose a lead story that impacts thousands or hundreds of thousands of people; however, if a story involves the human loss of life, this could potentially be more newsworthy.
Additionally, because television is such a visual medium, I think it's important to consider the video elements that can be used to complement the lead story. This factor was extremely relevant to my newscast this week, when I worked as the lead producer. At the beginning of the day, my team and I were leaning toward running a story on a training partnership between LAPD and USC. However, after discovering that the story's reporter was unable to gather compelling interviews and video, my team and I decided to change the lead to a story on USC's Hurricane Maria relief efforts for Puerto Rico. Ultimately, we relied on strong CNN video depicting the horrible damage in Puerto Rico and the state's recovery efforts to run with the story.
As a teammate this semester, I believe I've been fairly involved in the selection of the lead story. For example, as the video producer, I often communicate which stories have the strongest visual elements for the top of the newscast. Since I usually don't see the available video until the afternoon when working as the video teammate, I tend to offer my feedback to the lead producer later in the day.
In summary, selecting the newscast's lead story is not an exact skill; in fact, there's sometimes a handful of stories that could be argued to run at the top of the show. Therefore, while the decision ultimately lies within the responsibilities of the lead producer, the process of picking the lead story should include collaboration and discussion among the entire producing team, weighing the immediacy, impact and visual elements of all stories in the rundown.