An important element in producing a show is making sure everyone is on the same page. The more people are clear about their role and responsibilities in the newsroom, the more likely the show will turn out great.
But producing a day-of-air show is stressful at times and communicating with others can be the first thing that goes out the window when you’re worried about your own responsibilities. One of the biggest challenges I faced as a producer was making sure that stress didn’t affect the way I communicated to my producers and our multimedia journalists (MJs).
I think that towards the end of the semester our MJs got the hang of updating us on the stories we assigned them. And while that line of communication is necessary for the lead producer, so she knows what elements she has to work with when organizing our show, I think exchanging opinions and ideas about how a story should be told is also important.
This week we had someone on our team post a story pitch that didn’t seem to have a new angle. We initially dismissed it, since the person wasn’t in the media center yet, and it didn’t seem like there was much more to the story than what had happened over Thanksgiving break. There were also other new stories that we wanted to focus on, like Kamala Harris dropping out of the presidential race, the first Latina unanimously elected Los Angeles City Council president and the House Intelligence Committee report on President Trump’s impeachment inquiry.
When that person who pitched the story we dismissed came in for her shift, she really wanted to cover Gabrielle Union getting fired from America’s Got Talent, and I understood her completely. While there wasn’t a new development in the story that day, it turns out there was an issue that was still relevant: toxic workplace culture. The person was trying to communicate that to us, but I think we as producers were too focused on the other stories and didn’t think the Union story would actually fit in our rundown. I think we should have been more open to talking about the story if the journalist was as passionate as she was about it. Instead of dismissing the pitch, it would have been more productive to work with her to see if there was an angle that would work for our show.
I remember as a reporter, when there was a story I really wanted to cover, I would find as many reasons as I could to convince my producers to green light the story. It was my responsibility as a reporter to convince them why that story is important and relevant, but it was also the producer’s responsibility to hear me out and work with me if she believed in my ability as a reporter and wanted good material for the newscast.
I know that MJs, reporters and anchors often feel my tension and stress when they talk to me, but I think creating space that welcomes their perspective on stories makes a difference in our show.
My lead producer made room in the rundown and we included the Gabrielle Union workplace culture story, even though the angle wasn’t as clear as I would have liked. Many factors definitely played a role -- like the amount of time we gave the story and how much time she had to find sources. I think if we would have spent the time helping her with the angle of the story instead of debating its value, it would have made all of our jobs easier and much less stressful. Everyone plays an important role in creating the show, even if it’s the producer who has the final editorial decision.