Production Blogs

An ode to the era of Zoom producing

Advice for future producers who (hopefully) won’t endure the ups and downs of remote production.

To be honest, I can’t believe we’re at the end of this bizarre, virtual year. Every spring semester goes by quickly, but this one felt faster than others (thanks a lot, Zoom).

Thinking back on my four months of producing, I’ve learned the importance of effective communication and what it means to be in charge of your own editorial decisions. I will admit, I was initially pretty intimidated by the idea of remotely producing a news show. It seemed daunting — and at first, it was. Spending 12 hours on Zoom every Monday, pulling together interviews, video and scripts from the four walls of my bedroom with minimal breaks was something I had to get used to. As weeks passed, however, the intimidation felt less real, and I was more on top of what I wanted to do for the show. So, I give you these tips for surviving the rollercoaster that is *remote* news producing:

Tip 1: Trust your choices

I am the queen of overthinking. I second-guess most of my decisions, searching for what I believe is the perfect choice for any given scenario. Stacy Scholder, our professor and the director of ATVN, always reminds us that there’s no right or wrong story decision. It’s how you back up that story that matters.

When selecting pitches, be sure to know why you’ve chosen them. This lends you more credibility as a producer and makes it easier on the multimedia journalists (MJs) to find sources and know the angle of the story. It also gives you more confidence in your judgment and you have a better grasp of what’s in your show. Having confidence in your abilities is also a plus, so believe in the work you do!

Tip 2: Variety is key (and not the magazine)

I love profiles and highlighting people doing new and interesting things. At the beginning of the semester, I was so consumed with covering harder news stories that I forgot I could bring human-interest narratives to the table. Toward the end, I tried to find some profile-driven pieces that could highlight individuals doing interesting things in the USC community.

This week, we covered an award-winning photographer and USC alum who has been using his background in film to promote conservation work. The visuals were compelling and the interview went over really well:

I’m glad we covered this segment, and it reminded me of the importance of not just covering breaking news stories as a producer. Variety is super important — remember, cover your audience! Report on stories that reflect your community. This show is for THEM. Always remember that.

Tip 3: Take breaks

I didn’t and I regret it.

As lead producer, I was on my laptop from our 8 a.m. meetings to when the show was posted and we wrapped for the week. My mental health definitely suffered for it, so make sure to schedule time to take care of yourself. It’s easier said than done, especially with remote production. BUT setting personal boundaries is important and translates into any future job. Be sure to make your mental health a priority.

Tip 4: Have fun, and make it your own!

Remember, you’re a student! You! Can! Mess! Up!

This is the time to try new things, make mistakes, and absorb anything and everything you can. Lord knows I made a ton of mistakes this semester, but they helped me grow as a producer and reporter. HOWEVER. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t lower your standards. Because, hey, this is a news show. It gets published. And people (including potential employers) can see your work, so make sure it’s something you’re proud of.

So, that’s it. I’m excited to see the 2021-2022 version of ATVN. Even though I’m graduating, I’ll definitely be scouring YouTube for the next season of shows. Good luck, ya’ll!