You are the leader of the team! Communicate clearly and often! Make
sure your staff is on top of their responsibilities.
Night before (by 8pm):
- Contact SOJO's to get time/info on their packages. Get scripts from them.
- Write the hello and goodbye for the newscast.
- Check out news sources to see if they have articles or listings of events that will be happening on the day of the newscast. Come up with at least two ideas for your same-day reporter.
- Sketch out a rough rundown and email it to the professors.
Here are some basic sources:
7:30 am (or earlier!)
Arrive in the newsroom.
- Check out the news of the day. (Same sources as night before.)
- Check out the CNN Feed to see what stories are available. View the website http://newsource.cnn.com for a log of what's on the feed.
- Make a list of stories you'd like to include, the form they will take and how long they might run (estimate :20 for a reader, :30 for a VO, :45 for a VO/SOT, and 2:00 for a package including intro and tag, 1:30 for a LL PKG).
- Write down the stories you intend to use in the newscast on the dry-erase board in the classroom. Note the source of the story, whether they are from CNN, LLPKG, and any additional material that is needed by others in the newsroom.
Meet with same-day reporter/photographer teams to decide what they’ll be covering. (Reporters are expected to have ideas too. These ideas may be discussed the night before, but producers should be flexible to reassign same-day reporters in the event of breaking news). Meet with anchors to assign stories that need to be written.
- Make adjustments to the rundown. You’ll finalize it later. You have a “news hole” of roughly 15:00 to fill. (This already accounts for open/close, teases, sports, weather and breaks.)
- Add up stories you know you have. Subtract them from your total news hole. Now you know how much time you still need to fill.
- Choose your lead story. Try to build the newscast with local/state news as your lead unless there is a major national story. If there is, look for a local angle for your same-day reporter. Lead with the national story then place the local story after it.
- Choose the rest of the stories and finish assigning writers. Write assignments on the board, including sources for information and format of story. It’s best to have anchors write their own stories, rather than writing for each other.
- Backtime the show. Go in :30 light.
Polish your rundown. Add OTS graphics.
- Write the teases, including the Open. Sports and Weather will write their own.
Sports and Weather rundown should be included in your rundown by now.
- Allow the director to add their technical information to your rundown.
- Print six copies of the rundown and distribute them to editing, anchors and other writers.
- Review scripts from writers and reporters…make sure they are formatted correctly and that they are accurate…check for things like attribution, CG information, TRT. (Instructor will help with this.)
- Check in with same-day reporters. Jump in and help if someone needs it.
- Make sure CG's are turned in by 10:30.
- Check on script piles. Make sure stories are in order and that two-page stories have a +1.
PRINT AND ADD YOUR INITIALS TO THE FINAL RUNDOWN. Have the director also add their initials so we know it is the FINAL rundown. Have someone make copies of rundowns (15) and scripts (2). Make sure edit lab has final rundown.
Leave for studio.
If there is time, try to squeak in a rehearsal of the A-Block.
End of newscast.
Brief review of newscast.
How many stories should the anchor read in succession?
- Answer: Two stories back-to-back max per anchor…and only if the stories are related, otherwise switch anchors between stories.
Do all packages have tags?
- Answer: Not always.
Producing Solid Newscasts
By MICHELLE EMARD, Writer/producer, KABC-TV Los Angeles
News producers lead stressful but high-energy lives. They play the roles of ship captain, team quarterback, airplane pilot. They are jacks of all trades.
The news producer is the mediator, the copy editor, the negotiator, and the overall decision-maker for his or her station. Therefore, as a producer, Michelle Emard says, you must possess grace under pressure at all times. And throughout the day, you have to maintain an attitude of respect for all (this includes interns), and realize that news is a team effort.
Your first question to yourself should be, what is the news of the day? And more importantly, why should I care? Once this has been assessed, she says, you are prepared to start your day. But, there are a few things every news producer should know. You need to know your demographics (who your viewers are and what ages they are). You need to know your assignment desk, and you need to know exactly what it is you're trying to do once you walk in to work, which is to build your rundown.
Building your rundown is somewhat difficult in the beginning, Emard says, but keeping in mind the basics will help. You want to balance out your blocks, and try to have an equal amount of positive and negative news.
Your first block should be about 8-9 minutes long (your audience may start channel surfing if it is too short).
Weather is important! Never make your audience wait for it! Emard stressed this several times throughout the workshop. Nats and soundbytes tend to keep upcoming stories interesting, so try to use them as much as possible.
The same applies for graphics, bugs, and headlines and teasers. Be creative! This is your goal as a producer. Your viewers will quickly lose track of a story that lacks creativity.
And finally, play to your anchors' strengths. Doing this also will be vital in keeping viewer attention.
Emard concluded the workshop with some practical advice: "Make your newscast collapsible in the event of any last-minute emergency."
And remember to request feedback from your team.