Telum Talks To...Ali Ventura, Senior Set Up Producer for The Project
Describe a day in the life of a Senior Set Up Producer.
It's quite a long day! At around 7.30am, the senior producers look around for story ideas and discuss them to figure out if they'll work for the show that night. Usually we have a few things already locked in and we're just looking for something daily. It could be newsy, relatable or something everyone's talking about.
I'll send an email to the whole team with the rough plan, then jump on a call with the Newshub team to see what they're doing for the day. Then we have our producer meeting where we discuss pitches, ideas, and the show the night before.
After that, the seniors and EP confirm what we're doing for the day and I assign stories to the producers. From there, it's making the show! Subbing, answering emails, sometimes we'll have planning meetings where we look ahead to the rest of the week and discuss pitches.
At 4pm we have a meeting with the hosts and go through all the questions for our interviews and chat points for the show. The afternoon involves watching the stories, signing them off, making any last-minute changes, checking the news, and our show airs at 7pm. We're out the door after we have a post-show debrief.
What is the greatest challenge you face as a producer?
Finding the right angle for a story. Given we are straight after the news, we always try to make sure we're bringing our audience something different. We don't want to repeat what they've seen all day, and we want to give them something that will either inform, surprise, or make them feel seen - relatability is key!
Do you have a most memorable story you’ve worked on to date?
No one story particularly comes to mind, but I'm really stoked with how we were able to deliver important stories about Covid during the pandemic. We kept it fun but never lost sight of the fact we had to keep everyone informed and entertained during a really tough time.
The most memorable show is probably the one I'm working on right now though - we're doing a show entirely in te reo Māori to celebrate te wiki o te reo Māori! It's a mammoth effort but one we're so proud of...fingers crossed we pull it off!
What would your ideal story pitch from a PR look like?
Anything that feels new, has solid talent and serves our audience. News you can use is really helpful! Affected talent is a must - sorry companies but we don't want CEOs if we can help it. We want real people telling interesting stories.
Do you have any editorial deadlines that people should know about?
If it's a daily story, the earlier, the better. We have usually locked in our story for the day by 10.30am so if you have a great talking head for a newsy story, flick me an email in the morning. We usually do our planning meetings on Monday and Thursday, so both days are great to send us pitches.
If you have a full inbox, what's going to make you click to open something?
The shorter the better - get to the point. Basically, I need to know the gist of the story in the first two sentences. If you've got great talent, put that name in the subject line, we'll always notice it!