When I first decided I wanted to be a producer for Annenberg TV News (ATVN), I pictured myself sitting at the producer’s seat in the control room. I certainly didn’t picture myself sitting at a desk in my mom’s room, but here we are.
This semester has been anything but ordinary, but at this point in time, I am surprisingly grateful for that. Producing remote shows for ATVN has taught me three key lessons that I want to share with future producers: listen up, be present, and be intentional.
Lesson #1: Listen up.
Working with a team on Zoom comes with challenges. Sometimes it’s an issue with screen sharing and other times it is just a laggy internet connection. Even though Zoom has some imperfections, the best part about it is that we are all together, all day long. I know that sounds daunting and sure the Zoom fatigue sets in from time to time, but I am always there to listen to a soundbite or answer any questions.
In the media center, sometimes you have to track down multimedia journalists (MJs) to see what they are working on, but on Zoom everyone is literally right in front of your eyes. As a producer, it is so important to actively listen to your MJs and executive producer so that you know which soundbite will end up in the show or if an interview just fell through. The producer needs to know who is working on what and what still needs to be done, so listen up!
Lesson #2: Be present.
I know what you’re thinking: “How am I supposed to be present on Zoom?” I’m not going to pretend like it’s always easy, but it is possible! We all zone out from time to time, but you have to remember that this virtual space is our new newsroom.
The best way to be present on Zoom is to truly engage with your team. I have made so many fun memories and bonded with members of my team in a meaningful way. As a producer, your team of anchors, MJs, and your executive producer will keep you sane. More than that, they make producing these remote shows possible. Once you build a relationship with each of your team members, it doesn’t only make the quality of the show better, but it makes everyone’s experience memorable.
As a producer, you may sometimes feel a ton of pressure since you’re the one creating the rundown and making editorial decisions. In those moments of stress, you have to remember that you’re not alone because your team is always there for you. Connecting with your team on day one is key, so be present!
Lesson #3: Be intentional.
As a producer, you always want to be proud of your team’s newscast so make intentional choices about the stories you cover and the voices you want to incorporate. In the morning editorial meeting, think about the stories that are interesting to you and more importantly, the stories that are interesting to your team and audience!
Believe it or not, Zoom makes it so much easier to schedule interviews with people that we may not have been able to interview when we worked in person. You have an opportunity to interview people across the globe, so encourage your MJs and reporters to expand their reach and interview diverse people with a fresh perspective. Producing ATVN remotely is a unique opportunity, so be intentional when you pursue stories!
I produced my last show on Monday and I’m already starting to miss it. Thank you to my incredible team and my executive producer, Nisha, for making Mondays one of my favorite days of the week.
Now, if you have a stressful dream about the rundown, go ahead and give me a call because believe me I’ve been there. But in all honesty, this has been the most incredible learning experience and I can’t imagine producing remote shows with any other team.
If you are passionate about being a producer, do it! Take a leap of faith even if the shows are produced remotely and just remember to listen up, be present, and be intentional.