One of the most popular pieces on the Fast Company website right now offers up nine pieces of advice for someone just getting started in a career. It’s worth the read if you’re a recent grad looking for work or are relatively new on the job.
Now, if that job you’re seeking is that of a newscast producer, Advancing the Story rounded up some advice that’s tailor made for you.
1. It seems silly now, but until I started my first job, I don’t believe I fully understood the responsibility I have to viewers. That said, it took all of a day before it hit me like a brick. Whether it’s calls, emails, or Facebook comments, I quickly learned how deeply embedded viewers are in the news-gathering process,” said Miriam Cresswell, newscast producer at WAAY-TV in Huntsville, Alabama. “As a producer, you’re not only a decision maker in the newsroom, but you’re also a decision maker within your community. The stories you choose, as well as how you choose to cover them, directly affect your viewers. Because of that, I have to continually ask myself, “Is this important to my viewers? What do they need to know? What would they want to know?” There’s a good bit of power in a producer’s hands, and if you want viewers to keep tuning in, you can’t take that lightly.”
2. “I didn’t realize how stressful the producer role can be,” said Erica Davis, a producer for the 6 p.m. show at WDAM-TV in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. “If something goes down or goes wrong in the control room, you’re the first person people look at to fix it. Management and the other people working expect you to be the one to take care of any problems.”
She also thought the pay would be a bit better. “Coming out of school, I was under the impression the producers made better money than reporters did. But honestly there isn’t much difference, and for the amount each does and the responsibilities of each, I was surprised to learn this.”
3. “I knew as a producer I’d have to be a jack of all trades, but I didn’t realize how much. Daily I write, act as phone book for MMJs, stack the show, build graphics, run the TelePrompTer, edit video, and pull video from network,” said Brit Stack, the executive producer at KALB-TV in Alexandria, Louisiana. “There have also been times where I have had to go shoot video, haul boxes of paper for the printer, and I’ve even had to run the audio board once or twice, which is hilarious because it was of necessity and I had no clue what I was doing.”
4. “One of the things I didn’t know that I definitely know now is the tremendous amount of responsibility that goes with producing,” said Doug Morris, a producer for the 5 p.m. newscast at WDAM. He also made the point that the producer must be the brains behind the whole operation. “You’ve got to be the architect of the broadcast to look it over with a very sharp eye because missing any detail could lead to a mistake on air.”
5. “I didn’t know anchors have different read rates,” said Tamara Hinton, a producer for the 10 p.m. show at WDAM. “Honestly I thought something like that wouldn’t have a big effect on the show, but it has a huge effect on the timing of the show which obviously the producers are trying to perfect for each show.”
So, what have we missed producers? What do you wish you had known before getting into that control room for the first time? We’d love to have your comments.
Thanks to newscast producer Pete Porter for his help in producing this post.