Production Blogs

That’s a wrap! The fall 2021 season of ATVN comes to an end

My closing thoughts on producing a newscast and my advice to future student producers.

A photo of Wednesday's ATVN producers, anchors, and control room crew in the studio.

On the first day of JOUR 403: Television News and Sports Production, our professor, Stacy Scholder, posed a question to the class: what skills does a newscast producer need?

Many of my classmates responded with traits like being empathetic, open-minded and uplifting.

Don’t get me wrong. Those are all valuable characteristics, and every producer should strive to promote a comfortable and supportive atmosphere for everyone who contributes to the newscast.

But after producing Annenberg TV News for an entire semester, I would like to offer a few pieces of advice to future producing students that I wish I knew before I got started.

1. Keep your eyes on the clock.

Time management is huge as a producer, and it’s not easy. Many of my classmates and I struggled with timing, even during our last production day.

Stacy will give you reminders to help you with timing at the beginning of the semester. But soon enough, you will be expected to keep track of time. That means being ready to meet with Stacy to go over story elements and the order of the rundown, meet with your sports anchors to approve their stories, and assign stories to multimedia journalists as they come in for their shifts.

When it feels slow, there are lots of things you can do!

Check wires and news sources for breaking news, and start writing your teases. Start with the teases at the bottom and work your way up. The stories at the end will most likely stay put, while the top of your show may alter depending on new developments or breaking news.

You can walk into the edit bay and check out some of the visuals and sound your reporters have gathered for the newscast. Ask yourself if you have a cold open and note what stories have strong visuals that might make for captivating show teases.

2. Directors don’t like surprises. So don’t surprise them.

Your directors aren’t in the Media Center for the morning pitch meetings or the reporting during the day. They try to make sense of the rundown themselves when they get to the control room, but it is your responsibility to ensure they understand your vision.

Do your directors a favor by informing them about every change you make to the final rundown. But, Danielle? Once the rundown is final, why would there be changes? From breaking news to a missing script or the show running heavy, the possibilities that require making a last-minute change to the rundown are endless!

Please remember to appreciate your director and the rest of the control room crew. They save you in times of panic.

3. Take that confidence pill! And embrace being a leader in the newsroom.

Confidence goes a long way. And whether you feel prepared or not, having the title of “producer” makes people in the newsroom view you in a different light.

Don’t let the pressure get the best of you.

Every day is different. Some days, the lead story will jump out at you, and the story order will be crystal clear. Other days, you might struggle to fill up your show.

But in these times when you feel like you can’t possibly put on a show, know that you can, and you will. As Stacy says, “lean into the chaos.” A big part of producing is real-time problem-solving. Be confident in your producing skills and create backup plans when you can. And, of course, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

You’re in for a wild ride, but it will be an experience you will never forget.

This story was written as an assignment in JOUR403: Television News Production with Professor Stacy Scholder. Annenberg Media student editors also reviewed the story and published it per newsroom guidelines.