Upon leaving the USC Annenberg Media Center on Tuesday evening, I could not help but reflect on that evening's edition of Annenberg TV News. I left feeling the show had been one of the most successful newscasts of the semester. But perhaps the bigger question lingering in my mind was "why?" Why did I deem this newscast as one of the best of the semester, and what, specifically, was the primary reason for the newscast's success?
For starters, most of our videos had been sent to the server by 4:45 p.m. The graphics were also ready by the time of our run-through. As a result of the aforementioned factors, the studio crew was able to run through much of the show, thus helping to catch any errors.
But I believe there is a superior reason as to why the show was so successful; we had a multitude of diverse, newsworthy stories. While I admit we can never know when quality current events will occur on our campus and across our region, country, and world, a news producer must be able to decide what to do with those stories and how to report on them.
In Tuesday's case, we had a number of stories from which we were able to select. From Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifying on Capitol Hill, to three UCLA basketball players returning to L.A.X. from China where they were accused of shoplifting, and even to a breaking news mass shooting that left five dead, there was plenty to choose from. Once again, I admit the fact that we had so many major stories from which to choose is something I recognize does not always occur. But I quickly learned it's not always about the stories of the day, but more so what you do with those stories to relate them to people and grab the viewers' attention.
Ultimately, as lead producer, I made the decision to lead with the UCLA players' return to Los Angeles. While there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer in determining the top story for the day, I felt this story was of the most importance to our audience as well as to Southern California. It was therefore decided that we would lead with this story and include a live report from L.A.X.
Leading with this story and including a live report from the airport was a good decision, as it went from being an old story to a "what's happening right now" story. Just minutes before we went live, the players arrived at L.A.X, which added to the "right now" aspect of the coverage and live shot. We also included man-on-the-street interviews one of our multimedia journalists (MJs) gathered of UCLA students earlier in the day. This allowed our coverage to reach beyond L.A.X.
Following the live shot, we aired a statement released by U.C.L.A. Chancellor, Gene Block. We concluded the segment with a sound bite from President Trump. With all of the aforementioned angles, we successfully turned a story that may have seemed old and hyper-local into one that had current, national, and international appeal.
Following the newscast, my fellow producers let me know they felt this was a good story with which to lead the show. Furthermore, I feel our audience would have agreed that this story was the most important and best covered of the day, as USC Annenberg Media reported on it from all sides. For that reason, this story helped define and foreshadow the success we had during the rest of the newscast.
Upon coming home, I ultimately realized why the newscast was so successful. Success is not always determined by the stories you choose from, but rather what you do with them.