NBC's "Making a Difference"
Behind the camera with producer Tracey Lyons
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
Tracey Lyons' job at NBC Nightly News is behind the camera, researching, writing, and editing. As producer of the "Making a Difference" segment for NBC Nightly News, she and her team report on good news, searching the country for people who have dedicated their lives to making a positive impact on the world.
Lyons works out of NBC Studios World Headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Center, in New York City. She earned her chops in the hard news business working as a correspondent and a producer for a variety of NBC's news programs.
Once she finds a story, Lyons assigns a reporter and a camera person to go to the location, no matter where in the U.S. it may be. Lyons manages the research and writing of the story, directing the shoot and interviews. Working with the reporter, she helps edit the segment and prepare it for broadcast. One of the toughest parts of her job, she says, is working under strict deadlines.
A producer is crucial to TV news. The producer tells the story, and even though it's on TV, producing a audio/visual piece takes a lot of writing -- good writing. Lyons shared some writing tips with the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.
"You have to answer the questions: What? Who? Why? When? How?," she said. "If you answer all of those questions, you'll make a great story."
Lyons explained the difference between news on TV and in a newspaper. On TV, viewers can actually see a story as it happens. Newspapers tell the story after it has already happened. She gave an example.
"I'm showing on TV a zebra that escaped from the Atlanta zoo yesterday who's running down the highway," she said. "You might see that and think, 'I don't see that every day!' If you were writing in a newspaper setting, you would just take a photo of that zebra and the story would be static."
The newspaper story can only cover what happens at one particular time, but television can tell a story in real time.
When telling a TV news story, the producer is the manager of all the elements including research, writing, and coordinating the reporter, cameraman and editor. For Lyons, that's what makes the job so great.
"When you come into the journalism business, you meet the funniest people, the smartest people, and the nicect people," she said. "Every day is something new and exciting. I love my job."
For more tips from professional journalists, check out the Scholastic Kids Press Corps Tips from the Pros page.
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