Ariana Springer sits on Manhattan bound E train going through her emails to see what waits for her at work. She hasn’t been at work in 24 hours, and so much has already happened in those hours. She is one of the night time producers for WNBC—the local news affiliate for NBC news.
This isn’t what Springer imagined her life to be, while growing up in Nashville. She dreamt of making films. It wasn’t until, she went to the University of Miami that she decided to switch her major from film to communications, “I disliked the ‘hurry up and then wait’ philosophy of film. Also, at that time, I had interned at CBS as an editor and found the daily deadlines of local news thrilling.”
Springer’s first position in news was as an editor but quickly moved over to writing and producing local news. She stayed in Miami for ten years before moving to New York City, “I didn’t expect to move. I would’ve stayed in Miami. But I got married to a New Yorker, and he wanted to move back. I agreed under the condition, that I had to have a job already in place.” And as luck would have it, that stipulation turned out easy for her, “I worked for the local affiliate of NBC in Miami, they used to post openings in different cities. I applied for a producing gig and here I am.” Springer has acclimated to the rush of New York, and nothing shocks her except for the real estate and rent prices in New York.
When Springer arrives at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, she takes the elevator to the ….floor and the first thing she does when she gets to her desk, is turn on her little tv screen. She is watching the live feeds to see what reporter is where and what they are reporting. She already knows most of information, since she checked her email on the train, but she checks to see if there are updates, “Often, if a reporter did a story in the morning, then a new reporter takes over the story for the evening. In my emails, it tells me who worked on the morning story and who is taking over the evening story.”
Springer then reads the Assignment desk planner and the wires for any developing stories. Since she is a local news producer, she also receives the NYPD dispatch service, where she can see all the emergencies happening in the city. She starts creating a rundown (schedule of the show) and assigning stories to writers, “This process can take most of the night, sometimes right at the minute the newscast is about to happen. I am constantly changing the rundown, depending on video we have, or don’t have, or breaking news stories, and sometimes it can be the reporter hasn’t reached the scene yet or is still editing. The rundown might look complete but it’s never complete. It’s always a work in progress.”
Springer is quickly called into the “war room” for a meeting with the other producers and executive producer to go over the night’s stories. The meeting lasts anywhere between 30-40 minutes.
Springer has no minute to spare, she eats at her desk, is on the phone constantly, and has eyes on every tv screen in the newsroom. She runs to the editing room to watch edited videos, and then goes to the graphics department to request graphics for the show. She edits scripts, writes tosses, teases and headlines.
When it’s time for the show, she has barely ten minutes as she walks into the control room and greets the director of the newscast, asking him if he has any questions, “This right here is the best and worst part of this job for me. I am excited and anxious at the same time. I always feel like I’m holding my breath the entire time I’m in here.”
“I think it’s important to share stories and spread the word about important events and causes. That is the definite high of this profession, the low is definitely when you have to report stories with horrific details that you just can’t and will never forget.” Springer notes the Sandy Hook story particularly is one that she will never forget. She recalls how she felt uncomfortable reporting the details of the shooting. “I’ve been doing this long enough that I’ve seen a little bit everything, but that story….” She doesn’t finish that sentence.
She notes her biggest challenge is introducing new technology to her staff, “I generally overcome this by making sure everyone has the training they need.”
Springer is content where she is but aspires to move to a leadership position or produce a newsmagazine show,” I really enjoy researching and building a compelling story.”
When Springer is not producing, she loves to spend time with her family, which includes her five -year-old son, Zach, “My priorities have shifted. That’s not to say I don’t love the news business, but I miss out a lot of family time when I am at work.” Her favorite family activity is going to see the Yankees.