Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Wanna Be a Producer! Or do I...?

For my night side producer shadow, I shadowed Becca Habegger and Alex Carbello. I worked mostly with Becca but I also spent time with Alex while Becca was busy doing other things. When I asked Alex what the responsibilities of a producer are he simply said “everything.” And then when he stopped to think about it, he decided that a producer is really responsible for almost everything. And as I paid attention to what Becca did, she really had a lot of responsibilities. Becca had to keep track of reporters, which ended up being more of a challenge than I expected. They called her all night, and if they didn’t she had to call them and make sure everything was going okay. She had to make sure their story ideas were good enough. Two reporters had their stories fall through so she had to help them find better story idea.
Another major responsibility of the producer is creating the rundown. This is very important because it determines what the newscast will be. The producer decides what news will go in the newscast. Especially when it is a late cast, the producer has to decide which older pieces from earlier newscasts should be run again. The producer decides where the different news stories go. She/he has to put them in the order that they will appear in the newscast, and it has to be a logical order. The only thing that Becca really didn’t have to touch was the sports block. She didn’t worry about it. Sports decides how they want to use the time they are allotted. Becca also did a lot of writing. I had no idea that she was going to have to do that.
During the newscast, back in the control room, the producer’s job becomes really stressful. The pressure is really on. The producer has to make sure that the newscast is running at the right time. If the newscast is over time, the producer has to decide which stories to drop. Then, she/he has to communicate these changes to the anchors. Becca changed the newscast so that Eric Blumberg cut to break instead of the anchors, and they got a little confused. If you are a reporter and you are in doubt of what you are doing, you can go to iNews. The producer puts the reporters jobs in iNews. Or if you are still confused, just ask!
Alex said that the most important thing he learned since coming to the station is to not be afraid to speak up, in terms of asking questions and expressing your feelings. If you have a certain stance on a story, you need to be able to let the producer know, in a polite way. And you need to be able to ask questions. Lauren Styler also emphasized this. They both said that being able to ask questions is important. Becca said that it’s better to ask a question that you think is stupid than have something stupid go on air. The most common mistake the reporters make is not asking questions and not communicating. Alex said the hardest part of his job is dealing with a different set of reporters everyday. Because of this, they require more attention and you don’t know them as well.
The producer has a big job and a lot of people to keep track of. The best way for reporters to help producers do their job is to stay on time. This doesn’t just mean arriving at the station when you say you will, it pertain to the length of your package. If you are allotted 1.10, then you should stick with it. But, if you should go over or under your time, let the producer know as soon as possible.
So how does one know whether or not they should be a producer? The way I see it, you have to gauge this for yourself. If you are very uncomfortable in front of the camera, then you would be better suited for producing. Producers have to be “control freaks” said Alex. The other thing to consider is which you like more- reporting or producing. I found my producer shadow very interesting, but I think I would rather be a reporter.

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