I’ve always been a visual person.

When I was six, a benign tumor called cholesteatoma overtook the mastoid bone of my right ear. After three surgeries and weeks of recovery, I was left nearly deaf on my right side. Because of my hearing loss, I’ve learned to rely on my visual senses to better understand the world around me.

This auditory limitation has been both a positive and a negative in the world of student journalism. For every time I’d be caught saying, “What?,” I could also be found at the front of the control room pulling together an animated graphic in under 20 minutes. While an undergraduate student journalist, I learned how to communicate in a noisy newsroom, advocate for myself when I missed something, and use creative graphics to highlight my visual strengths.

This graphic plays at the opening of ATVN's Monday politics segment. The art director, Julia Nguyen, created animated graphics for the show's sports, politics, and international blocks.
This graphic plays at the opening of ATVN's Monday politics segment. The art director, Julia Nguyen, created animated graphics for the show's sports, politics, and international blocks.

This semester as a producer, I’ve tried to play to my abilities and integrate more creativity into the show by designing new segment graphics. I also spend extra time each Monday ensuring our newest addition, Gone Viral, runs smoothly and really pops.

At the mid-semester point, our producing class developed a list of objectives to keep us on track with creating new and engaging content. As a student producer, you’re always working to reinforce your news judgment and learning better ways to communicate with others. Sticking to these goals gives us something to strive for each week as we work together to finalize the show. I’m a very task-oriented person, so for me, making a list of goals gives me priorities for fine-tuning my communication skills and learning how to better organize stories.

Bigger picture, better details

Having seen the progression of these shows over the semester, I’m encouraged by how the graphics we order turn out. Speaking to my goal of implementing more creativity, I wanted to create new visual elements to break up the mix of anchors and voice overs (VOs). I asked our art director if she could design graphics at the start of the politics, sports, and international segments, and they turned out great! These animated graphics have become an essential part of our show. Every week, it’s satisfying to see them roll on screen in conjunction with their short and sweet pop of music. I believe it makes the show a little smoother and adds in a fun sprinkle of color and sound.

This past Monday, it was my turn to help as the teammate, assisting my co-producer, Anisha Banerjee, as she served as lead producer. Aside from helping Anisha, I’m also in charge of graphics and pulling visual elements together as the teammate. One of my most time-consuming tasks is to edit our newest segment, mixing graphics, music, banners, and Zoom recordings to make it look cohesive.

As a detail-oriented person, it can sometimes be more difficult to think big-picture when every story has its own nuances. That being said, looking at the broader scope when designing visuals helps you create much finer details in these graphics. You understand the story and what needs to happen to ensure viewers understand it too.

Thinking to the future, I know the skills I’m honing at USC and in our producing class will be essential for whatever job I end up in. Even if I don’t work in news, being a better communicator, looking at the bigger picture, and having a set of personal goals make you a valuable asset to any team. And having an eye for design doesn’t hurt either.