Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Porsha Grant: The Architect of the Newscast.

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.


Sofia Pignitor said...

I thought she was a good speaker. Although she was significantly less formal than most of our speakers, I thought it made it easier to sit through. Also I wasn't aware of the structure that a producer follows in terms of a career path, so I thought that was interesting. I am also now aware of how many corporations disney actually owns, its pretty astounding, and slightly frightening that they hold so much media power. But It was glad to hear her say that their ownership does not influence the content of the program.

Darragh Friedman said...

I thought that Porsha was fairly interesting because she hit on the key points of ambition, teamwork, honesty and the caste system inside the entertainment industry. She was very much cognizant of the power that TV has in our culture, but I was both relived and impressed by her seeming responsibility concerning how she herself can effect audiences with her decisions. Plus, the woman was just FULL of soundbites!!!

Jake DiLanzo said...

I thought she was the best speaker we had to date because she was funny and seemed really personable. When I listen to someone tell about their experiences and what they did to be successful, I think it's refreshing to see someone who is down to earth just like everyone else. She is young, sophisticated, and courageous. I enjoyed it very much!

Zack Connor said...

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Porsha speak. Most journalists that I have seen speak have always seemed very serious and almost as if there is no fun in their work. It's as if their job is only a duty they must fulfill to society and to themselves. Although, I believe that journalism is a vital asset to society and is highly important, I also think that a journalist is also a glorified storyteller. This is getting off track, but I feel as if Porsha had a really good grasp on journalism, in general. Yes, it's a serious job, but it is also a fun job that you can fall in love with because she certainly has. She lightened the outlook for those of us going into the field, reiterating the thought that as long as you're tenacious, you should be fine.

Olga said...

I absolutely agree with the last two posts - Porsha really was very personable and engaging. She does an incredible job, and the same time remains very down-to-earth and open in sharing her achievements and tips. She seemed truly passionate about what she does, and I found it very inspiring. She really got me thinking about this position for the future!

Justin Wagner said...

Porsha Grant was a perfect example of someone successfully entering and ascending the ranks of the media circuit. By using her outgoing and expressive attitude she was able to gain guidance about the career she was pursuing from the most experienced players in the game. She believes in this career field so much she even left her comfort zone and her home town to risk it all on the line and succeed in life. She lives with no regret presently and loves doing her job everyday. Her main goal is to get the most true and appropriate news to her common folk without signs of corruption and that's what I believe in. Even though this field of work is being questioned by many to see if it still has a pulse, Porsha Grant's life experiences has led me to believe that journalism isn't dying. It just needs fresh writers. People who see what's going on with this country as it is straight up. Not filtered to the masses to keep it's audience senseless and ill informed.

Dave Mack said...

In my opinion Porsha Grant was very unprofessional. It did not seem like she had anything prepared to share with the class. She repeated herself way too much. When questions were asked she did not really expand and go into depth with her answer like the other guests that have come into our class. She lost her train of thought a few times. Overall it was annoying to listen to because of what she had to share had to be pulled out of her.

Geo said...

FYI: she wasn't supposed to prepare anything. The intention was for her visit to be a Q&A.

- George
(the teacher who has no problems with differing opinions but just wants everyone to know the ground rules)

summerkennedy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chase Senior said...

It was great to see and learn about the behind the scenes aspect of the newscast. The anchors usually receive all the hype. Indeed their job is a difficult task as it takes true talent and skill to succeed on the television but people like Porsha make the whole operation work.

Porsha was very personable and down to earth and told the class everything we needed/wanted to know about the production aspect ranging from providing stories, to her daily schedule. Props to Porsha for coming in and giving a very interesting speech.

Minjia Yu said...

Generally speaking, Porsha impressed me of her positive attitude and relaxed appearance, which kind of different from what I pictured “producers”. I knew little about what producers do before, and her vivid descriptions of her job let me learn that this career could be really abundant. Although this work could be stressful, she seems good at dealing with it, by the enthusiasm she showed and the casual way she talked. Moreover, her experience also indicates that there are lots of possibilities in one’s life, which is rather inspiring.

Emily DiCicco said...

I liked that Porsha was less formal than previous speakers. It made it seem more real and down to earth. She spoke to use like she was speaking to other professionals in her life.
It was enlightening to learn about about aspects of journalism behind the scenes. It illustrated that there's a lot more you can do in the field of journalism than anchor or write a column.

Anonymous said...

Rahmeek Jones said..

I enjoyed Porsha Grant for coming to our class she really opened my eyes about what to actually look forward in doing to break into the business. I love her new cast with Action News at 4 which I watch everyday if I can. Porsha Grant was the best person in my belief you came and talked with our class this semester.