Venturing Into the Newsroom

This past week I added a day of work at WAVY to follow a producer. I’ve always been interested in the production side of TV, so shadowing someone who does it for a living gave me insight as to what it’s like.

I followed Bob Bennett, the award-winning producer of the 6 p.m. show. To start the day, we went to the news meeting in the morning where all of the reporters, assignment desk personnel and producers of each daily show discuss what stories are being run and when. It was a great experience to see and listen in on the coordination of news stories to see what it takes to run an entire day of interesting TV.

At first I was surprised that Bob had me at the station that early, since his show isn’t until the late afternoon. I quickly learned that it takes an entire day to produce a 30 minutes show. Writing all of the scripts with teases and tags coupled with ensuring the newscast is filled with stories that will keep the viewers interested is a daunting task.

Complications can always arise when producing a show, such as having too much crime or too many stories located in a single area. Bob quickly showed me that making the entire viewership happy goes hand-in-hand with having a successful station. For example, viewers in Hampton don’t want to hear five straight stories about Virginia Beach and vice versa.

Spending time in the newsroom also showed me the importance of weather for the show. I never realized how important the chance of thunderstorms were until I followed Bob. People want to know the weather because it can stand in the way of a lot of summer plans, so leading the show with weather when appropriate can be another way to make the viewers happy. So all day long we kept an eye out on the forecast to see if any sever weather broke that could give us vital content for the show.

In sports, the anchors primarily write their own scripts, so Bob showed me what it’s like to write for a news anchor. I always thought it must be difficult writing a script for someone other than yourself, but Bob told me the way he does it: put the anchor’s voice inside your head and write it like you are them. That idea immediately made sense to me, and it’s something that I think can help me when I become a producer one day.

Although most of the day was spent learning how to produce, when we had down time Bob gave me some social media tips. He has a few thousand followers on Twitter and I barely have 200 so I listened carefully. So far, I’m up eight followers since last week so it’s safe to say his help is working. I’ve got a long way to go until I have a thousand followers, but I’ll take as many as I can get.

Not only was following hard news for the day an adjustment, but learning all the work that goes into producing just a 30 minute show was eye-opening. But Bob showed me so many aspects of production that made me feel the time spent is well worth it, as long as it keeps the viewers happy.


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