Telum Talks To: Irra Lee from TVNZ

Telum Talks To: Irra Lee from TVNZ

By Cindy Paskalina Kweesar

Telum Media spoke to Irra Lee, Producer for Q+A at TVNZ, about her role and what an ideal pitch for the programme should look like.

Describe a day in the life of a Producer at Q+A.
There is no typical day in this role. It really depends on what's happening in the news cycle. That could mean, on any given day, I could be going out on a shoot for a story, meeting new people to interview, making phone calls, going through pitches, researching, interviewing, editing video, writing for, among a multitude of things. 

Tell us more about your team.
Our core team is spread across Auckland and Wellington. In Auckland, we have our Executive Producer, our Host, our Video Editor, and myself. In Wellington, we have a Producer and Reporter. Occasionally, we also feature stories from other 1News reporters across the country.

Do you have any editorial deadlines that people should know about?
We have a weekly rhythm for putting a show together for Sunday. Tuesdays are usually our admin, ideation, and research day. It's also usually the best day to go out and meet people. By Wednesday, we tend to have some idea about what we may want to cover on the show. We then spend the rest of the week filming stories, researching, editing, and putting the production elements of the show together.

Of course, like with all things in news, it could change in an instant. For the most part, though, we usually have more time than daily news shows to prepare for each episode. That means we have the ability to delve deeply into topics.

What is the greatest challenge you face as a producer?
Within one Q+A episode, we will usually cover a broad range of subjects. We try to combine topics that are somewhat unexpected (but still relevant) with people with unique perspectives that our audience may have not heard a lot from before. With any topic we feature, we ask ourselves if we're moving the conversation forward in some way. That can be challenging when there are one or two events that are dominating the news cycle. 

What are some of the most memorable stories you've worked on to date?
Our series of interviews with political party leaders in the lead-up to 2023's general election was demanding from a team research and preparation perspective. 

Other stories that stick with me are Indira Stewart's report about high school students who have to work long hours while studying to support their families and a story we did about migrant workers from China who alleged they were not getting the work they were promised and were consequently struggling to survive.

What would your ideal story pitch look like?
  • If it's a time-sensitive interview, the earlier in the week you get your pitch in, the better.
  • We're always on the lookout for unique voices with lived experience and expertise that can move our national conversations forward.
  • Pitching through email first is usually best for complex subjects. We have the time for longer interviews and can explore topics in depth. 

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Irra Lee


TVNZ 1 Q+A (New Zealand)

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