This week was my last ATVN show I’ll be a part of. Once it uploaded, I took some time to think about where I was in January and where I am now. In our first class, our professor asked what skills are needed to be a good producer, and she even asked the question again in our last class. Producers said patience, multitasking, and communication, and I mentioned teaching as said in my last blog post. These are all, without a doubt, crucial to producing, but future producers also need to understand that they are ultimately team builders.
This past show, I found myself with nothing to do at 4:30 p.m., which is usually the most stressful hour in the Media Center. All of the MJs (multimedia journalists) had their stories, editors were cutting the show, and we were waiting for more interviews to upload. Of course, there were areas where I could have helped, like cutting the cold open, but we already delegated an MJ to that task. Technically, this is exactly what is supposed to happen. If the producers do their jobs right, the less work they have.
This is all because of team building. A producer teaches new people not only to give them a foundation of the ATVN dynamic, but also to craft a team where people can own certain parts of the newscast with little help. In fact, a great indicator of whether you’ve done well as a producer by the end of the semester is seeing if MJs, reporters, and anchors can film, edit, and write relatively independently. It’s a team effort, but you have to have the team first to be successful.
It’s important to acknowledge the soft skills when making a team. You can get frustrated and decide that you’re going to edit a story that was given to an MJ, or you can tell the MJ specifically what you want while being conscious of their schedule and skill level. It’s about being polite, remembering people’s names, and thanking them for their work and time since many are volunteers.
When I started as an MJ last spring, I genuinely felt like people wanted me and that I belonged. The work wasn’t always my favorite; I’m not crazy about awkwardly filming random “man on the street” interviews, but it was the executive producer, Courtney Burke, and producers, like Colin Taylor, who put genuine care in getting to know me and effort in showing me the process. That alone encouraged me to want to keep coming at 12:30 p.m., on the dot, every Thursday for my shift.
For the future leaders of Annenberg Media, it’s more than getting the show done. You have to motivate people to want to be there, and that’s the hardest skill. There are times when MJs may not show up, but instead of blaming anyone, ask yourself what you can do to make people want to help. The heart of the Media Center is not ATVN nor any desk. It’s the community that manages to form relationships that last far beyond USC. It’s your job to continue that humanity in journalism, and I hope you welcome the newcomers to Annenberg Media with open arms as my producers once did with me.