Brit Stack was like many journalism students; she was learning about reporting and shooting, editing and writing and keeping her eye out for reporting jobs. But Brit was also smart enough to grab an opportunity, so when she got a chance to take a 6-week producing internship in Jackson, Miss., she jumped at it.
“It was great,” said Stack with a laugh. “You get to know everything that’s going on without leaving the building.”
Immediately following her internship, Stack was offered a producing job at KALB-TV in Alexandria, La. Within months, she was promoted to executive producer.
“Being in a small, rural market makes it hard to generate stories,” Stack said. “Our reporters have to email the news managers by 8 p.m. each night with stories they want to do the next day.”
Stack and news director Keith Weiss then evaluate what the reporters have sent and contribute their own stories into the mix.
In addition to the long days, Stack says producers need other key skills.
“You need to be well organized, love to write and be able to handle multiple projects at once.”
She says it’s not unusual for her to be listening to scanners, checking email and putting together two shows at once, all while she’s supervising reporters out on their stories.
So, how do you prepare to do the job of producer?
“An internship is absolutely vital. In many journalism schools there aren’t classes that focus on producing, so an internship will help you learn a newsroom’s systems and get you writing every day.”
In fact, Stack says even without an internship, you can improve your ability to produce newscasts by writing every day – even if it’s not news writing.
“You’ll just get to know language better,” Stack said.
Of course, every job has its headaches and Stack says sharing responsibility for hiring people is stressful.
“Evaluating job candidates is probably my least favorite part of the job,” said Stack. “One job posting was up for just three days and we got more than 15 applicants.”
The best thing about the job was easy for Stack to articulate.
‘I love writing, being able to write and be in charge. As a producer you get to help shape a newscast and you are putting your vision on the air.”