It was highly recommended to me that I take Stacy's advanced production class, and now after fifteen weeks, I understand why. Producing Annenberg TV News every week was truly such a unique experience.
I have learned so much throughout this course. The beginning of the semester, until I'd say about the midway point, can be extremely frustrating as there is quite a huge learning curve. Media center terminology and overall workflow is tough to grasp immediately. I personally felt defeated many times because I felt as if, knowledge wise, I was way behind the rest of my media center team. I usually pick up on new skills pretty quickly and have a great memory, but I very much underestimated the complexity, variety, and just overall scale of this operation (an operation that we, the producers, are essentially running).
I have two main recommendations for new producers: watch Annenberg TV News and take a lot of notes. All ATVN shows are on Annenberg Media's YouTube channel. Do yourself a huge favor and watch a couple of shows at the start of your semester. First off, this will give you a great idea as to the different possibilities you can employ as a producer when it comes to graphics, anchor location, writing styles, and teases. You will also be able to critique the show through a critical lens as a viewer and understand what works and what doesn't.
At some point during your week, you should also go back and watch your own show! "Watching" the show in the control room isn't exactly time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. You are still working during the live broadcast, and in many cases, you must be most alert during this time. With everything going on around you, the clock hits 6:28:30 in an instant and you don't get to process your own show.
Second, you must get a notebook and take notes starting with the training period but also throughout the entire semester. You really do learn new things each and every shift you work on the newscast. You will seriously thank me. This will save you so much stress and anxiety, because once you're thrown into the producer chair you want to be confident in your role. For me, this only happened in the last couple of weeks of the semester. Write yourself a checklist, break down technological processes into their specific steps, and most importantly write down the names and positions of all your teammates—from your multimedia reporters to your studio crew. I promise you, getting to know these people is the key to enjoying yourself in the media center. The people make the show and the experience what it is, and while I guarantee you will have many frustrating, eye-rolling moments, on the last post-mortem (our after-show meetings) you will be looking around the room at an amazing, semi-dysfunctional family that just created several hours of original news content. I love my media center family, they are some of the most special, talented, and driven people I have had the pleasure of meeting during my time at USC.