What does it take to be a successful newscast producer? More than you might think. There’s a lot more to producing than just stacking a show. The decisions a producer makes about what stories to run and in what order are important, of course, but only a small part of the job.
Holly Edgell, executive producer at KOMU-TV, says a producer must be a journalist first, but also a coach, timekeeper, ethics watchdog and shoulder to cry on, among other things.
The newscast producer must be meticulous to a fault; a micro-manager to a degree; patient; cool under pressure AND a quick, confident decision maker. It’s a pretty tall order, and no producer gets everything right all the time.
Edgell oversees producers at the NBC affiliate owned by the University of Missouri. On her News You Can Use blog, she says one of the hardest things for many producers to learn is how to take responsibility for the entire newscast, “even those parts that are not directly your job.”
Basically, that means a producer must connect with everyone on staff who has anything to do with the newscast, from the live truck operators to the meteorologists. But connecting doesn’t mean nagging or giving orders. Here’s Edgell’s advice for dealing with reporters:
Keep in touch (even if they don’t call you, you call them); provide encouragement; ask if a story angle has changed; remind them of deadlines; ask if they need graphics. The more your reporters know you are part of their team, the more they’ll be on yours.
In today’s newsrooms, producers have to be leaders. Good leaders know that if you model what you want from others, you just might get it. And if you ask, “How can I help you?” you just might get some help in return.