By Greg Asciutto
Scholder, who joined USC Annenberg in 2007 as an ATVN associate director and journalism lecturer, takes over the student-produced broadcast news organization for newly appointed Annenberg Media Center Executive Director Serena Cha.
“What I enjoy is teaching students — having them get excited about working in a newsroom, putting on a newscast and working together to make that happen,” Scholder said. “There’s something really special about everybody coming together, working hard and being able to put together a newscast where people say, ‘Wow — we got it all, we did a good job, we learned something. Look at what we were able to produce.’”
An award-winning program with an extensive list of alumni who are dominating broadcast markets in Southern California and beyond, ATVN is poised to make giant strides under Scholder’s leadership.
Currently, more than 200 students from all majors and disciplines staff ATVN during regular Monday to Thursday operations. Reporters, producers, anchors and technical specialists produce live studio broadcasts that air daily on USC’s Trojan Vision station. Additionally, ATVN boasts its own multimedia website and a number of social networks, giving students many opportunities to get involved.
“We like to think of ourselves as a local news station covering local news, campus news — news that students care about — in addition to national and international news,” said Scholder. “We feel like we can do a good job of reporting stories, analyzing them and giving different angles to them, whether they’re here on campus or somewhere around the world.”
In Fall 2014, ATVN will get two cutting-edge studios when the state-of-the-art, 88,000-square-foot Wallis Annenberg Hall opens its doors to a new era of journalism.
One large room, equipped with a green screen for weather reports as well as audience seating, will house the main nightly broadcast. A smaller studio with a “Good Morning America”-styled window backdrop will allow ATVN to add live sports and current affairs shows to its regular schedule of programs.
“This is an opportunity really to expand what we do here at ATVN,” Scholder said. “For students, there are going to be even more possibilities for production in terms of how to do a newscast.”
In Wallis Annenberg Hall, ATVN staffers will also work with members of USC Annenberg’s other student media outlets under the umbrella of the new Annenberg Media Center.
“We all have slightly different ideas on how to cover news, and I think we can all sort of maintain our own identities but also work together, collaborate and teach each other some new things,” said Scholder.
Prior to her role with ATVN, Scholder worked as a leading broadcast news producer in Los Angeles for 15 years. Stints with KCAL, KCBS, KNBC and KABC earned her three Emmy Awards, two Golden Mike Awards and an Associated Press Award for 30-minute newscast production.
“There are a lot of things about television that are incredible and that can have a profound impact on society,” she said. “Writing-to-video, telling amazing stories, connecting with people … I think that’s sort of the potential that students have that want to get into this field.
“What I think is so great about ATVN is that there are skills we teach that I think transcend journalism, that transcend broadcast or television or any of these professions. Skills like learning how to communicate with people so that you are understood and clear. Skills on how to motivate people to work with you … skills about being detail-oriented, skills for dealing with pressure and the stress of working in that kind of an environment. There are a lot of things to me that transcend television, that are very translatable into the professional field no matter what you do.”
ATVN will hold its spring semester open house Wednesday, Jan. 22.
“If you’re here on campus, and you’re ever curious about what it takes to put on a television newscast, here’s your chance to check it out,” Scholder said. “Sometimes you don’t know what’s out there until you try. If you’re at Annenberg, or even just here at USC, it’s an opportunity to open your eyes to something new.”