What's a Producer Do Anyways?

by - January 11, 2014

On average I answer about 20 phone calls a day. Not all of them are from viewers - maybe half. My favorites are those who ask who I am and then proceed to tell me how much they enjoy watching me on the news. Explaining to them why that's impossible is pointless - to viewers, if you work in t.v. news, you're on the air.

To say that the average person doesn't understand how the news works is probably the biggest understatement in the business. To many of the people who call, the anchors are the only people who do any work. Forget about the reporters and producers and anyone else who's behind the scenes.

I've talked before about how newsrooms truly operate but it was more to do with the network-affiliate relationship. This post will be more about how the newsroom is run and the functions of different people, specifically the producer. It seems to be the most misunderstood role in news, at least in my neck of the woods anyway.

Let's start at the top, shall we?

The anchors are the most-recognized faces. They are the face of the news and generally draw the most reaction. If a story is wrong, they are who gets blamed by the public. But when it comes to day-to-day operations, the anchors don't typically cover stories. They spend their days reading through scripts written by other people. They are the last line of defense for fact errors.

The reporters are who viewers see around town most often. They deal with the public day in and day out. They work with mayors, councilmen, schools, crazy people, you name it.

Then there's the producer, a.k.a. me. We are the creators of the shows, and we are responsible for everything that is in it. If something is wrong, it ultimately falls back on us.

I kind of fell into producing. It was a stroke of luck and a good friend who landed me my first job - in a field I had no training in. It just so happened I had a knack for it.

One of the first things I learned is that being a producer is all about balance. Not only do producers have to rely on themselves to put together a good show, but they also have to rely on everyone else to ensure it goes off smoothly, and at times that can be frustrating.

Producers are the middle-man of the newsroom. We're involved in every situation, and more often than not how the producer reacts sets the tone of those situations. In times of crisis, it's the producer who answers the question, "what now?"

TVNewsCheck keeps up with what's going on in the broadcast industry. In this article, they refer to producers as the leaders of the newsroom, and I wholeheartedly agree. Producers decide which stories run, where they run and how they run. They determine which reporters go live and which anchor reads what story.

TVNewsCheck says it best: "Without question, the producer influences and touches more content than anyone else."

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  1. Before I was a producer I was an anchor and field reporter for a few years. Ten years after I had made my last on camera appearance, people were still coming up to me and telling me they enjoy watching me every night.

    I worked in three different newsrooms. Some of the anchors were conscientious while others took 2 hour dinner breaks then watched television and talked to their friends on the phone the rest of the evening while I slaved away putting together copy, monitoring the wire services, editing tapes, listening to the scanner and coordinating teams in the field. A balanced news team is obviously a better situation but office politics can prevent you from achieving that goal. Anchors tend to be worshiped by everybody from the man on the street to station management.

    1. Fortunately, I've worked with some good ones. About the only thing they've ever done that's been grumble-worthy is take too-long dinner breaks, haha.