PORSHA GRANT WAS DOING an internship at a newscast in Georgia when she noticed a woman quietly sitting in the corner. Porsha learned that the woman was the newscast producer, the architect of the show. So she shadowed the woman and learned about the job. Pretty quickly, Porsha's dreams of being an on-air reporter were gone. She realized that she wanted to run a show.
"You're in charge," Porsha, who now produces for the 4 PM show on 6abc, said yesterday in class. "You're in control and you sit in the air condition while doing it."
She has a world of things to consider when shaping her newscast (which is the 4:30 to 5:00 pm portion of the show). She must decide what is the most important story, when to run the other stories, who should be covering what, and when do they need to go live. She must also set the rundown so that the show flows, and that there is no awkward juxtaposition of stories.
"We look for stories that are going to affect the most people," she said.
Weather is the greatest common denominator, she added. The 4:00 show is popular with women, so the newscast offers a lot of consumer affairs stories and lighter news. They are trying to appeal to a younger viewership, so the anchors (below) are younger and there are a lot of multimedia elements to the show. Twitter is referenced frequently.
Planning for the show begins at 9 am when they have their story budget meeting. On some days, however, she scraps everything they've planned because breaking news occurs.
She said that it's a massive responsibility being a journalist, especially at 6abc, which has been the top rated news station in Philadelphia for nearly four decades.
"I take it very seriously," Porsha said. "I want people to get something from my newscast."
She followed up with, "I'm not a brain surgeon. I'm not going to cut a vein and somebody's going to die."
The successful formula for the station includes developing the personalities of the reporters and anchors so that viewers feel a connection to them, and the station seemingly being everywhere. They'll cover everything from community project ribbon cuttings to the royal wedding.
"We're everywhere there's a story," she said.
Here are a few other things she said that stuck out to me:
• Broadcast journalists must be good writers. What does that mean? You need to be able to condense complicated stories into understandable copy that can be presented quickly - as little as 25 seconds. The tone needs to be conversational. You can be colloquial but you still need proper grammar.
• There is no rule or true path to landing your dream job. Some people bounce from smaller station to larger station, to larger station. Others work their way up from within one operation.
• Porsha left her hometown and family in Georgia because she loves what she does.
• "Breaking in can be difficult," she said. But if you do internships and be aggressive when you are there, you'll impress people. "Take the initiative. People will remember you for that."
• To be on television, you need an "accent-less, Midwestern" delivery.
• When reporter Alicia Vitarelli said on air that her dress came from Saks, the store sold out of the dress the next day.
• Reporters, anchors and newscasts that sensationalize information will see short term bumps in their ratings. but it won't last. "Viewers aren't dumb," Porsha said.
• Despite 6abc being an owned and operated station, part of the Disney family, there is no mandate to promote Disney products. They do, however, promote abc programming like Dancing With the Stars and Diane Sawyer exclusive interviews.
• The best part of her job? "I really do feel like I'm helping people," she said.
6 months ago