Once in awhile, new advisers ask me what our workflow is for our class. I tell them that workflows are unique to every program, but they all contain the most valuable parts.
I try to model mine after the newsrooms I worked in. At the beginning of the day, we’d do the story pitch, move on to determining what stories will work for that show, etc.
The following is our production schedule for a monthly, 30-minute show:
- Beats – Students are reminded the week before story ideas are due that they must contact their “point person” for their assigned beat (e.g. – principal, district communications director, department heads, coaches, etc.)
- Story Ideas – Students are expected to have at least 4 story ideas. I use a handout that goes into more detail because I want them to think about the story a little bit more. As a class, we try to whittle down the stories for that show. If it doesn’t get done during class, my producers finish that part up.
- Assigning stories – After story ideas, producers then pair people up with the stories, give them a deadline, determine a total running time (TRT) for their story and assign them to the editing computer.
- Story Pitch – We’ll get together a day or two after the students get their assignments and, after a day or two of collaboration/brainstorming, they’ll pitch their idea to the rest of the class. This helps because sometimes other students will have an idea or a couple of contacts for them.
- Rough Draft scripts – Rough drafts are usually due one week after they get their story assignment. Producers and the adviser look them over and make sure they’re going in the direction that was discussed during the story pitch. They’ll also look them over to make sure their writing is clear and adheres to the broadcast style of writing. More peer-to-peer editing than anything else.
- Shooting Deadline – We started tinkering with this last year. We implemented it because people were waiting until the last possible second to get things shot. Do we ask ALL of their shots be done by a certain day? No, that’s impossible. The deadline for this is your b-roll/first interview deadline. Keeps the kids accountable. It’s a work in progress, but it helped us. These are usually due a few days after rough drafts.
- Final Deadline – We spread out deadlines over 3 days (usually Monday-Wednesday). That way, there’s not a log-jam at the computers. Producers will approve stories and, if there are changes to be made, they will make those recommendations to the reporters for that story. On Thursday, our producers put the show together and on Friday we launch. On that Thursday, we also remind staff about Beat Sheets.
- Post-Mortem – When we come back on Monday, we critique the show in class. Over the years, my students have told me that this is the key step in making them better. Do not forsake this to get to the next show!