I thought I got to know myself after spending six months at home during quarantine. I learned that I like to listen to the NPR “Up First” podcast every morning, that spending hours in the kitchen is therapeutic for me, and that I need to meditate using the Headspace app before falling asleep.
But when I came back to school this semester, my daily routine got turned upside down. I quickly learned that my early bedtime and morning rituals needed some adaptations. Although I never perfected a routine for my day-of-air production, I realized that I need structure to do my best work.
That being said, serving as the lead producer was NOT my strong suit. Being the lead producer is an important job that requires a specific skill set (that’s an understatement). Changing the order of the rundown last minute to report on breaking news and writing leads during a time crunch proved to be very, very difficult for me. At the beginning of the semester, I was nervous that this would take a toll on the quality of our show. Thanks to my amazing team (and support group), I was comfortable asking questions and collaborating with the other producers, writing coaches, and anchors to get the job done.
It was important for me to learn what I didn’t like before finding exactly what I do like: being Brett’s teammate. I make the distinction here of being “Brett’s” teammate because our different skill sets allow us to work great together.
I learned that I love working with our multimedia journalists (MJs) on stories, editing videos for social media, and picking up interviews and writing when our MJs were sick or we didn’t have the bandwidth.
I don’t need to be calling all the shots, but it’s the little jobs behind the scenes that I enjoy the most. For example, organizing and conducting the “Tips for Trojans” interviews with Wing Lee, Shannon Reiffen, and Dan Toomey were a highlight of my experience as a producer. Having a weekly segment on the show (something I could depend on), gave me the structure I needed to produce high quality content.
Producing the social videos was also something I really enjoyed because I liked the storytelling aspect of it and highlighting one or two people. My favorite social video was the one I created about Devin Martin, a USC student who interned at NASA. Martin sent a ton of great photos of his work experience and a great video of him watching the launch of the Mars Perseverance Rover. Additionally, our executive producer Nisha taught me how to put a Gaussian blur on the video to make the background blend better.
Again, it’s the little things that made Tuesdays special for me. I think a big part of the positive work environment came from everyone’s communication as a team and people’s willingness to step up and do the nitty gritty work towards the end of the day: editing voice overs (VOs), adding in missing computer graphics (CGs), checking spelling.
Overall, I learned that producing a newscast takes a village, and it opened my eyes to the realities of a (virtual) newsroom. Being an anchor is not as glamorous as it may seem, and being the lead producer is definitely not as simple as some of my classmates (and Stacy) make it look. Although I still love long-form journalism because time is on my side, there is something special about television broadcast and the adrenaline rush you get from a full day of production.
I love long-form journalism. Interviewing a person and crafting a story with deeper analysis is in my comfort zone. But there was something special about television broadcast production. It is an adrenaline rush that I’ve never felt before.
I still don’t understand how 10 hours fly by so quickly and how I feel so close to a team I’ve never met in person. But I do know that whether you’re lead producer or the teammate, good communication skills and teamwork are the key to producing a successful show. Position titles may seem intimidating and concrete, but everyone played multiple roles in Tuesday’s producer Zoom.