My #1 personal motivator for applying to grad school became clear from the very second I walked in the doors of Wallis Annenberg Hall. The opportunity to work in a giant room filled with computers, an edit bay, a state-of-the-art production studio and enough television screens to watch every channel at once was a dream come true.
When I decided to join the producing class for this semester, I did so knowing that I would have an excuse to spend an entire day of the week at the center of operations in the media center. It would be hard work, but I knew it would be fun and worth every last hour.
The first couple of weeks of producing ATVN were difficult, but after nearly two months of work at the job, I was starting to get the hang of it all. I actually felt pretty comfortable until I got an email that USC would be trying out online classes for the Wednesday through Friday before Spring Break. I vividly remember thinking “I’m so glad I signed up to produce on Tuesday. What a mess that would be."
But by the end of our next broadcast, I knew it was probably the last show I would ever produce in the media center. The way events were unfolding throughout the world, it was clear that there would be a “time before COVID-19” and a "time after COVID-19.” My time with ATVN was about to be stuck in the middle and forever changed.
For the last three weeks, all of ATVN’s crew has worked tirelessly to produce news shows from home worthy of the same plaudits made so much more accessible by the conveniences of the media center. It hasn’t been easy. Almost everything about the producing experience has changed. No more iNews, no more live shots, no more directors and no more running around the room to make a last second change to a script.
Though that last one might actually be a good thing, that only begins to explain how every aspect of this job has changed in the last three weeks. We’ve adjusted to new applications, new workflows, new stresses and a litany of new obstacles. We’ve learned to communicate questions early and split the work up in ways that would never have even made sense when we were in the media center. The hours are longer and the work more difficult without the media center, but everyone has responded by doing their best to get back to that comfortable feeling we were all just starting to have when we were on campus.
What COVID-19 hasn’t changed for ATVN is the extraordinary level of patience and dedication shown by every person on this team. Without everyone continuing to give the show 110% of their efforts, it would be impossible to produce any show worthy of the title of “Annenberg TV News.” But, in the middle of a global crisis that sent us all home, we haven’t missed a single show and I think that’s something to be immensely proud of.