Working as a producer for a daily broadcast news team requires attention to detail, organizational skill and the ability to adapt to unpredictable circumstances.
So when the San Bernardino attack happened on the morning of Dec. 2, 2015, Anthony Leong, a Fil-Am news producer for the Bay Area’s NBC station KNTV, knew he had to act quickly and utilize everything he has learned working as a local news producer for the past 10 years.
And that he did. Along with his diligent production team, Leong won a Northern California Emmy Award for their 24-hour continuous coverage of on the San Bernardino attack.
The Emmy Award-winning team included executive producer Dan Pyryt; producers Alison Holeyman, Eric Rich and Leong; anchors Raj Mathai and Janelle Wang; reporters Peggy Bunker and Cheryl Hurd; photojournalists Robert Beasom and Mykie Vang and assignment editor Gonzalo Rojas.
Upon learning of the attack, the team had decided by noon whom to send and by that afternoon, sent their own reporters from the Bay Area to San Bernardino. By the time Leong’s 6 p.m. newscast was set for broadcast, the NBC Bay Area team was able to gather their own information and report their own stories.
“When you cover a story as big as this, you can’t just look at how you can cover it for one hour, you have to see how to cover it for the next 24 hours,” Leong, 33, told the Asian Journal.
Leong said that covering the attack held a lot of significance to the team because of the proximity of the attacks to their home base.
“Attacks like this don’t happen very often, thank God. This was a big story for us because it’s so close to home and because so many people here in the Bay Area know exactly where San Bernardino is,” Leong said, adding that the connection between the Bay Area and the LA area prompted the station to send three separate crews to San Bernardino.
After covering the initial shock of the attack, the station began producing the reaction stories. The team produced “Reality Check” stories, which investigated the perpetrators’ backgrounds and provided in-depth analysis on the attack itself.
Leong was also a part of the news team that was nominated for breaking news coverage of the massive Valley Fire that consumed large portions of Lake County and affected Sonoma and Napa counties in September 2015. KNTV covered the second fire that broke out and had crews broadcast live from the fire line.
While fires frequent the local news cycle in California, Leong said the Valley Fire was an entirely different animal.
“Fires aren’t easy to cover, but you know what to do. But this wasn’t in the playbook or anything like we’ve done before,” said Leong.
With 10 years of experience in of producing news, it isn’t a surprise that the seasoned news producer is receiving praise for his work.
But broadcast journalism wasn’t always Leong’s the dream.
Leong, who is half-Filipino and half-Chinese, knew he wanted to work in television but didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do. The Eagle Rock and Burbank native studied at California State University, Northridge where he majored in television production.
He then landed an internship at ABC/7 in Burbank during his senior year, which helped in establishing his place in the news industry.
“That’s when I fell in love with it,” Leong said, who took up a minor in journalism shortly after realizing he wanted to work in news.
The internship experience helped him get his first producing job at a KESQ, the local CBS station in Palm Springs’. He then spent three years as a news producer in Portland, Oregon.
In late 2013, Leong started working as a news producer for NBC Bay Area.
“I love what I do and whenever I get asked why I like it, I say it’s the one job I’ve ever had that lets me watch television and go on the Internet all day long,” Leong quipped.
After a decade ten years of news producing, Leong doesn’t see himself slowing down anytime soon. A newsman at heart, he remarked at on the fast-paced world of daily broadcast journalism.
Although he does little writing now, he leads a team of writers and producers under him that produce the scripts, which he then copyedits before broadcast. As one of the team’s producers, he makes major editorial decisions on news stories, pitches and develops stories and marshalls breaking news.
The next natural step in his career, Leong said, would to become an executive producer of news.
“There’s no other job where people are so well-informed and know what’s going on, and it blows my mind,” Leong said. “It’s never been the most high-paying job, but it’s always been the most interesting job I can ever think about. You start at square one everyday. Whatever you did yesterday, you can’t rest on your laurels.”