Producing Solid Newscasts

August 22, 2002
Category: Archive

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.

Emard discussed what a producer does once walking into the station.

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.