I often tell producers that having an associate producer is a great opportunity to prepare yourself for management one day.  This is someone who often needs direction and training, and  whose success can be tied to your own.  Still, many producers just don’t know how to effectively utilize an associate producer.  So let’s go over some basic rules of thumb about who AP’s are and how they should be used:

  • Helpers not writers
  • Segment designers
  • Second sets of eyes

The first mistake many producers make when given an associate producer is to have the AP write the entire newscast.  Then the producer just goes back and fact checks it.  Delegating is one thing, having the AP essentially do your job is another.  Writing is a key part of producing.  If you don’t relish it, don’t produce.  Your AP is your helper.  So you need to assign your AP specific things to write.  Then you have an AP earn more opportunities depending on their skill levels.  For example, an AP of mine initially wrote the national news segment for me.  She wanted more, so I told her to match her words and video better.  She did, then she got to write the wacky video of the day segment.  Next, I let her segment produce more.  I let her find the stories, come tell me what our options were, which ones she liked and why.  Once she was comfortable with that, I let her write teases for the segments she produced.  By then, she was understanding the sell of a story.  As she pushed herself and grew, I got more time to dedicate to certain elements in the newscast where I wanted to push myself and grow.  This in turn helped her see that producing is an evolution in many ways.  We were able to have great philosophical discussions.  She was eventually able to fill in for me, when I was off and the quality of the newscast did not  suffer.

Another key area where producers do not utilize their AP’s properly is checking for errors.  I had my AP’s read through every super and graphic in the newscast.  They started at the bottom of the rundown and worked their way up.  This forced them to pay more attention to the details because they had to look at the rundown in a different way.  This was a great way for them to take some responsibility and for me to see how detail oriented each AP was.

When you become a manager, you have to be able to assess each person you oversee.  You have to help build on their strengths and know how to minimize their weaknesses.  Your AP’s are the perfect way to practice assessing these qualities.  And if your AP never grows into a competent producer, it reflects badly on you.  This is true of managers and their employees as well.


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