The towering building comes into view as nine student reporters from JSR visit NBC Universal Studios for a studio tour. The busy security lets the cars in and we pass the big sets and stages attached to the building. Producers and employees frantically walk between the streets, and we enter the NBC studio.
Once we enter the building, Shanna Mendiola greets us by the door with a warm welcome. An Emmy Award winning meteorologist, she hosts the NBC4 Southern California’s morning newscast. As our tour guide, she gives the inside scoop of the behind the scenes in news broadcast.
She first states that this broadcasting station is the newest station in the U.S.; barely made three years ago. The advanced technology and rooms showcase the new condition of the building.
Going underground, we meet various producers planning current news, editors editing footage, and various employees watching over the current live broadcasts. Mendiola explains that there are hundreds of people working backstage who make the whole process of live broadcasting successful.
The building sports several makeup rooms where anchors go to get their makeup and hair done. The makeup artist explains that their usual makeup is largely based on foundation and powder to produce a matte look that looks good with the various lighting and cameras.
The editing rooms have various TVs and screens where employees can connect and bring in various broadcasts and news from all over the world. There are also individual soundproof recording rooms where anchors can record their voiceovers.
Leading us to one of the broadcasting rooms, we got to see a live broadcast filming behind the cameras. As a meteorologist, Mendiola explains that she has to wake up at 2:00-3:00 a.m. every morning to head to work. She starts off every morning with researching the day’s weather and coming up with a weather report that she will broadcast live at 4:30 a.m. on channel 4. She also states that while news anchors have a script that they can read off of a teleprompter, meteorologists have to improvise their report and say everything on the spot.
As she explains this, an overhead speaker explains that we have to be silent for the news will go live in under one minute. We all watch silently as the news anchor starts the broadcast talking about the long season of snowboarding that just ended and turning over the news to the other meteorologist. The meteorologist updates the current weather by pointing to a green screen. As soon as he is done, the broadcast is over.
In what seems like a quick flurry of time, the tour comes to an end as we begin to understand all the work it takes for a live news broadcast. It is now clear that, despite the short moments we get to watch on television, the backstage work and effort that takes much longer than the broadcast itself make it all possible. Truly a great learning experience, this JSR field trip to the NBC Studios not only helped solidify for some their interest in broadcast journalism, but also helped us student reporters gain a deeper understanding of journalism in itself.