Broadcast journalism

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Photo and broadcast journalists interviewing government official after a building collapse

Broadcast journalism is the field of news and journals which are "broadcast", that is, published by electrical methods instead of the older methods, such as printed newspapers and posters. Broadcast methods include radio (via air, cable, and Internet), television (via air, cable, and Internet) and the World Wide Web. Such media disperse pictures (static and moving), visual text and sounds.

Scripts for broadcast tend to be written differently from text to be read by the public. For instance, the former is generally less complex and more conversational. Radio and television are designed to be seen and heard sooner and more often than a daily or weekly newspaper.


Broadcast articles can be written as "packages", "readers", "voice-overs" (VO) and "sound on tape" (SOT).

A "sack" is an edited set of video clips for a news story and is common on television. It is typically narrated by a reporter. It is a story with audio, video, graphics and video effects. The news anchor, or presenter, usually reads a "lead-in" (introduction) before the package is aired and may conclude the story with additional information, called a "tag".

A "reader" is an article read without accompanying video or sound. Sometimes an "over the shoulder digital on-screen graphic" is added.

A voice-over, or VO, is a video article narrated by the anchor.

Sound on tape, or SOT, is sound or video usually recorded in the field. It is usually an interview or soundbite.

Radio was the first medium for broadcast journalism. Many of the first radio stations were co-operative community radio ventures not making a profit. Later, radio advertising to pay for programs was pioneered in radio. Later still, television displaced radio and newspapers as the main news sources for most of the public in industrialized countries.

Some of the programming on radio is locally produced and some is broadcast by a radio network, for example, by syndication. The "talent" (professional voices) talk to the audience, including reading the news. People tune in to hear engaging radio personalities, music, and information. In radio news, stories include speech soundbites, the recorded sounds of events themselves, and the anchor or host.

Some radio news might run for just four minutes, but contain 12–15 stories. These new bulletins must balance the desire for a broad overview of current events with the audience's limited capacity to focus on a large number of different stories.[1]

The radio industry has undergone a radical consolidation of ownership, with fewer companies owning the thousands of stations. Large media conglomerates such as Clear Channel Communications own most of the radio stations in the United States. That has resulted in more "niche" formats and the sharing of resources within clusters of stations, de-emphasizing local news and information. There has been concern over whether this concentration serves the public. The opposition says that the range of political views expressed is greatly narrowed and that local concerns are neglected, including local emergencies, for which communication is critical.[citation needed] Automation has resulted in many stations broadcasting for many hours a day with no one on the station premises.


Television (TV) news is considered by many to be the most influential medium for journalism.[by whom?] For most of the American public, local news and national TV newscasts are the primary news sources.[attribution needed] Not only the numbers of audience viewers, but the effect on each viewer is considered more persuasive ("The medium is the message").[2] Television is dominated by attractive visuals (including beauty, action, and shock), with short soundbites and fast "cuts" (changes of camera angle). Television viewing numbers have become fragmented, with the introduction of cable news channels, such as Cable News Network (CNN), Fox News Channel and MSNBC.

A journalist works on location at the Loma Prieta Earthquake in San Francisco's Marina District October 1989.

Local television[edit]

The industry divides local television in North America into media markets. These television markets are defined by viewing area and are ranked by the number of audience viewers. New broadcast journalists generally start in the smaller markets with fewer viewers and move up to larger television stations and television networks after gaining experience. The larger stations usually have more resources and better pay.

United States stations typically broadcast local news three or four times a day: around 4:30–6 am, 11:30 or noon, 5 or 6 pm, and 10 or 11 at night. Most of the nightly local newscasts are 30 minutes, and include sports television and weather. News anchors are shown sitting at a desk in a television studio. The news anchors read teleprompters that contain local interest stories and breaking news. Reporters frequently tell their stories outside the formal television studio in the field, in a remote broadcast setting where Electronic news-gathering (ENG) techniques are used with production trucks. Daytime television or morning shows include more "soft" news and feature pieces, while the evening news emphasizes "hard" news.

News jobs[edit]

News anchors (formerly "anchormen") serve as masters-of-ceremonies and are usually shown facing a professional video camera in a television studio while reading unseen teleprompters. The anchors are often in pairs (co-anchors), who sit side by side and often alternate their reading. Meteorologists stand in front of chroma key backgrounds to describe weather forecasting and show maps, charts and pictures. Reporters research and write the stories and sometimes use video editing to prepare the story for air into a "package". Reporters are usually engaged in electronic field production (EFP) and are accompanied by a videographer at the scenes of the news; the latter holds the camera. the videographer or assistants manage the audio and lighting; they are in charge of setting up live television shots and might edit using a non-linear editing system (NLE). Segment producers choose, research and write stories, as well as deciding the timing and arrangement of the newscast. Associate producer, if any, specialize in other elements of the show such as graphics.

Production jobs[edit]

Main article: Television crew

A newscast director is in charge of television show preparation, including assigning camera and talent (cast) positions on the set, as well as selecting the camera shots and other elements for either recorded or live television video production. The technical director (TD) operates the video switcher, which controls and mixes all the elements of the show. At smaller stations, the Director and Technical Director are the same person.

A graphics operator operates a character generator (CG) that produces the lower third on-screen titles and full-page digital on-screen graphics. The audio technician operates the audio mixing console. The technician is in charge of the microphones, music and audio tape. Often, production assistants operate the teleprompters and professional video cameras and serve as lighting and rigging technicians (grips).

Online convergence[edit]

Convergence is the sharing and cross-promoting of content from a variety of media, all of which, in theory, converge and become one medium. In broadcast news, the internet is a key to convergence. Frequently, broadcast journalists also write text stories for the Web, usually accompanied by the graphics and sound of the original story. Websites offer the audience an interactive form where they can learn more about a story, can be referred to related articles, can offer comments for publication and can print stories at home. Technological convergence also lets newsrooms collaborate with other media, broadcast outlets sometimes have partnerships with their print counterparts.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Carole Fleming (10 September 2009). The Radio Handbook. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-25810-8. 
  2. ^ Marshall MacLuhan (1995). Understanding media. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-63159-4.