How to Plan a Morning Newscast

By Doug Drew 

The most important elements of a successful morning newscast don’t occur during the newscast, they occur before and after the show.

An editorial meeting should be held each morning immediately following the newscast. It is in this meeting where you need to plan your coverage for the next day. The best morning newscasts set their own agenda and don’t wait around for spot news.

Brainstorming session
The morning meeting is NOT a post-mortem where people sit around and gripe about fonts that were wrong, tape that rolled late, or live shots that missed slot. This is a planning session. It’s a brainstorming meeting, and it’s crucial if you want to have a morning newscast that goes beyond covering the news of the day. It should be open to anyone involved in the morning show. The more ideas the better!

Go beyond news of the day
Even though most people are somewhat brain dead from working most of the night or getting up early in the morning, a meeting right after the newscast is critical. If you don’t have a meeting and nothing special is planned, then the show will be nothing more than news of the day, and that’s what the other guys have across the street.

Pre-Show Check-In
It’s not like I enjoy meetings, but as many people as possible should also get together about an hour before the start of the show in the morning as well. This is really more of a “talking points” meeting. This is where you make sure you are still “on-topic.” Often it’s the anchors who are responsible for suggesting what the “talkers of the day” are going to be. Inside the newsroom overnight the staff is isolated, but the anchors come in with a fresh perspective having checked out the cable news before leaving home and listening to the radio on the drive in.

The goal: get viewers ready for the day ahead
The daily planning session and the pre-show meeting don’t have to go very long, but they are critical in making sure the newscast is in tune with viewer interests. Remember, the best morning shows get viewers ready for the day ahead, and a meeting before and after the show will help make sure you are on-topic each day.

Doug Drew is a morning news specialist with 602 Communications. You can reach him at