Digital producer. Web producer. Digital content editor. There are a lot of names for those who manage TV station websites, but the job is becoming more and more important within every single TV station around the country. So what does it take to be a digital producer, and what skills are needed?
This one is pretty clear, yet fresh college graduates or interns are thrown into this position all the time without any previous writing experience. But that is not the worst thing for this job, because the average web producer will write 40-60 stories a day, so many of them get really good really fast — because they have to.
A basic set of news writing skills, paired with a talented newsroom all around them, will help even the newest employee learn these skills.
If you are looking to be a digital content producer for TV, you should be taking print journalism courses in college. It seems that very few broadcast journalism courses are teaching actual writing, so someone with print writing experience will have a leg up on someone who has never experienced how to actually write the news.
It is becoming more and more clear that the AP Stylebook is not a mandatory item to use when writing news in a TV newsroom these days, but it is still as important as ever.
In the AP Stylebook, updated every few years by the Associated Press, you will learn the correct ways to use terms, phrases, and names. And whether or not you disagree with them (Oxford comma included), they are the standard for the news industry.
Patience may be the most important skill to being a TV web producer. This is for multiple reasons.
1. Even though digital is becoming more and more important to news operations of all kinds, not everyone agrees. Because of this, on-air broadcasts are often prioritized ahead of anything digital. The best digital producers know how to do their job, and do it well, without the resources of the rest of the news department.
2. Different stations have different ways of managing their content. But whether the digital producer is responsible for re-writing or editing reporter content, or if the reporter is responsible for doing their own, you will likely be dealing with a lot of different reporters, each with different skills.
As previously mentioned, very few broadcast journalism departments are teaching print writing — and so as a web producer, you may be working with a lot of people who have no idea how to write for web.
It’s important to be patient with these people, and train them if necessary.
Training skills are crucial for anyone who is managing content for a TV station website.
As a web producer, you will likely be responsible for training new web producers, and even interns and reporters. You will be responsible for training on writing for web, basic coding, and perhaps most importantly: the CMS. Especially if reporters are responsible for uploading their own stories, they will need detailed instructions on how to use (and troubleshoot) the CMS.
Basic web and coding skills
You are not required to be a developer by any means. But the best web producers know at least basic HTML, but it’s worth taking a few HTML and basic CSS courses as well.
One of the most important things you can do as a web producer is be able to troubleshoot any technical situation that arises, and knowing how to code (even very basically) will help with that.
Digital marketing skills
Although a news person shouldn’t be responsible for any form of marketing the station, these days having some digital marketing skills (social media, Google Analytics, etc.) are becoming more necessary.
Understanding your audience, knowing which types of stories are working best, and being able to report this back to management are crucial to the job these days.
Photo and video editing
While you will likely not be responsible for any major photo or video editing, you will have to find a photo for every single story you post, as well as editing and posting all videos that exist.
The video editing you have to do will likely not come from a video platform — rather, you will probably be editing video after the newscast runs. You will become an expert in whichever platform your company uses to record their newscasts.
However, you should also have basic video editing skills, because there will be situations when you need to pull video before it was run on the air.