All posts by Tamara John

Producing with Integrity

Most of us have seen the lower case or capital “e i” on the upper right hand side of the television screen for select children’s shows. I have learned that ensuring that a show is both educational and informative is only the beginning when producing programming for children. In fact, it is necessary to have integrity as well, and to be extremely meticulous in all three of these aspects of production.

In fact, I have seen this best demonstrated by the children’s television programs produced by the independent television company I am interning with. These programs promote education and literacy by featuring them in different segments throughout each episode. In one program, children from all over the country and world are invited to submit their original writing. The producers of the program make sure to read all stories submitted. Once a story is selected, a script is written for it. The scriptwriter is very careful to maintain the structural integrity of each story and anything written by the child is attributed to them. They also ensure that proper and inoffensive language is used and maintained throughout the script. The family of each child is then informed that their child’s story has been selected. After the producer has approved the final script, the costuming and sets are designed.

The producers of this program make sure to dot every “I” and cross every “T,” even down to the correct pronunciation and gender of the selected story’s author.  Although, this takes a lot of time, I have seen how extremely valuable these extra steps are to the child and their family.  During the production of the show, correct grammar and pronunciation are also checked and changed if needed.  In the production phase of the show, the child’s story is brought to life by the talented skills of professional actors. Finally, in post-production, the show is edited, special effects and all of the final touches are made to perfect the show. After the final cut of the show has been made, the child’s family is mailed a DVD of the show and receives a call to inform them when the show will be broadcast. This has been done for over 1500 children.

Although, this is just one case study, I have learned through observation—more than anything, integrity and responsibility are vital as a producer/media manager. In this case, not only is the producer responsible for including educational elements in each show while maintaining the story’s integrity; but they are also responsible for making each subsequent season as valuable to the child and audience as the first.

– Tamara John

Living Independently: A Blessing and a Curse

I am currently interning with a privately owned independent broadcasting company in Chicago-land. As an observer in this company, I realize that existing as an independent media company has its benefits but also its disadvantages. One of the advantages of being an independent company in Chicago is location. Chicago is the third largest media market in the United States and is what some consider to be the #1 market for radio and television. A media company in such a large market has a larger and more diverse potential audience. As an independent company, decisions can be made much faster. For example, a Southern Illinois media affiliate of a large media conglomerate must first go through corporate before major decisions can be made. However, decisions can be made by just walking down the hall.  There are no “suits” coming in to check operations because everyone in this broadcasting company is in the same building.

One challenge faced by this independent broadcaster is programming. Often times, because the company is not a major conglomerate, it can be boxed out of programming by network-affiliated stations. Distributors may choose to go with a well-known station. An independent broadcaster does not have as many resources as a major conglomerate and therefore may not have the funds to purchase more popular syndicated programming. This challenge also relates to the sales department when selling advertising space. Major advertisers may completely refuse to advertise on an upcoming network. Furthermore, if the network does not subscribe to Nielsen, they are not even considered for advertising by most major ad. agencies.

My company, much like many other media companies, is facing the challenge of penetrating and adapting to our social media society. While networks that primarily produce original programming such as MTV can also put their programming online, strict licensing agreements with distributors makes this nearly impossible for a TV station that is heavily reliant on syndicated programming. Finally, I must say that in such a competitive and challenging global media age, I fully believe that my company is doing quite well as an independent. I also believe that there is a bright future ahead for it!

-Tamara John