Essay: Being a TV news web producer

This friendly essay was passed out to tween girls at an event for Girls, Inc. of the CSRA, a local group dedicated to giving young ladies the skills they need to find successful careers. A female anchor, a female photographer and I all spoke about what we do and how the girls might pursue careers in our fields.

A web producer is like a magazine editor.  All the different things the news organization does come together on the website, and the web producer manages it all.

Many facets to web producing

  • Content management
    • News stories
    • Information/Resources
    • Polls/Surveys
    • Links
  • Marketing/Promotions
    • Contests
    • Station activities
    • Network shows
  • Advertising
    • Ad design and placement

Skills and experience

There are many different software applications that can be used when producing for the web.  What’s essential is not learning specific content management systems, but knowing how they work in general and being adaptable.

However, there are some skills and experience that every web producer should have as a foundation:

  • Image editing software (e.g., Photoshop)
  • HTML (advanced site features without eating space or bandwidth)
  • other programming languages are extremely helpful (CSS is huge)
  • Flash
  • above average spelling, grammar, and writing ability (for editing)
  • organizational skills (for determining where things go on the site)
  • research skills (for looking into new technologies/features)
  • people skills (working with others in the company, meetings, etc.)

Software I use

  • Photoshop: Highly robust and industry standard image creation and manipulation software.
  • Dreamweaver: This web programming application is user friendly and packed with features.  I use it in the Code view to edit HTML and CSS.
  • Clickability’s CMPublish content management system: Use of the same CMS allows all stations in our group to share resources, including advertising campaigns, third party features, etc.  The software is feature-rich, allowing among other things many different types of content and many different types of web visitor reports.
  • WorldNow video producer tool: Our live show is recorded and ingested into an online video database, from which I create clips for the website. WorldNow is one of the top content management companies at this time, and their video player will soon see an impressive upgrade.

Third party applications and services

Content is key on any website.  The more pages you have, the more likely it is that you’ll be found in a search, but you also want every page on your site to have useful content.  There are many free applications and services out there that many people use, such as MySpace or digg.  A good web producer will try to find ways to represent the station on as many of these services as possible, to increase the chance of websurfers finding the site.

There are also many companies whose business is solely based on selling content and services to the visitors to existing websites.  A web producer needs to be able to evaluate these to see which ones suit the market and which ones probably won’t be useful.

Always changing

Ultimately, to be a web producer you have to be willing to learn new things daily and to completely change your strategy to match the flow of the web.  Even though the web has been around for many years now, businesses and markets are still figuring out how they want to use it.  Fresh ideas are definitely a plus.  The main goal is to present a product that is both useful and easy to use, but in the highly competitive TV market, you’ve also got to do it in a way that’s a level above the competition.