Ten minutes before the Midday show was about to air and reports of a bank robbery began to buzz through the police scanner. All of the practice as an intern producer for WICD Channel 15 and long hours of training at the University of Illinois had prepared me for this — breaking news. It was a refreshing reminder of why I want to be a TV news producer.
The broadcast journalism program at the U of I isn’t very big. My reporting and television classes had about 10 people, each of whom we got to know very well throughout the semester. We knew who was good at putting together a hard news story, who was the creative shooter and who really didn’t want to get into the “business” — which was almost half of my class. Three of my classmates wanted to be reporters, nobody was interested in anchoring and only one had dreams of becoming a producer — me.
Shooting and editing a story for TV class is equivalent to writing a 10 page essay for History class. It takes time, you need sources, and you need to be accurate. Reporting was fun because I would get to talk to actual people and get access to information not everyone has. But I knew reporting wasn’t for me, like a pair of heels that look great on the rack, but realistically make your feet sore after wearing them for an hour.
So my junior year, I applied for a producing internship with WICD and it reinforced what I already knew — my strength lies in writing, organizing, and editing. They hired me, and soon I was producing entire shows, writing scripts, organizing the rundown, and editing video. These were a pair of shoes I knew I could run a few miles in.
Last summer, I interned with NBC Chicago. I can’t even begin to explain how valuable that summer was to my career focus. I was able to investigate stories, go out with reporters, and even field produce. I would practice reporting on camera, watch the recording later, cringe, and hope to do better next time. But really, I knew I wanted to be back in the producer chair, organizing the show, deciding what stories would be aired, writing scripts and watching the clock to make sure the show stays within 30 minutes.
The bank robbery tip was placed at the top of the Midday show. I wrote a quick 20 second script with the information we had with a couple minutes to spare. By the end of the show we learned that there was another bank robbery within minutes of the first. It was a busy breaking news day and it felt great that I was able to say I produced that show.