Industry Trends

Facebook & Journalism: The Influence of Facebook on the News

How many of us wake up in the morning, pick up our smartphones, and turn to Facebook? Ok, maybe you wait until you get to work or get a cup of coffee. In any case, if you look at Facebook daily, you’re not alone. There are more than 2.13 billion active Facebook users worldwide and 1.40 billion of them log on daily, according to Zephoria’s February 2018 update on Facebook statistics.

With so many of us checking in on our newsfeed regularly, it’s no surprise that Facebook’s influence on the news is huge and fraught with controversy. Here we consider how Facebook users are shaped by — and help to shape — the news.

Facebook’s power to affect politics and your emotions.

The mainstream media notoriously underestimated Donald Trump’s possibilities for winning the presidency in the weeks and months leading up to the 2016 election. And during that time, so much conspiracy and misinformation circulated on Facebook, that some observers wonder if Facebook should not shoulder some blame for allowing or missing fake news.

One such story, found in the “Trending News” section of Facebook in September from fictional WTOE 5 News, claimed that Pope Francis had endorsed Trump. Another from the fake Denver Guardian, published just days before the election, claimed that an FBI agent connected to leaks of Clinton’s emails was involved in a murder-suicide, the Deseret News reported shortly after the election, and they drew connections between the great influence Facebook could potentially have on voters, and the emotional effect it proved to have just a few years earlier.

For a week in 2012 Facebook “tinkered with users’ emotions,” according to a 2014 NY Times article. Whether Facebook was justified in its experiment or not, the results showed pretty convincingly, and not particularly surprisingly, that when shown negative content in their newsfeed, people felt worse, and when shown positive content, they felt better.

Is Facebook’s news really news?

Although Facebook is not a news site, it provides a forum for people to share the stories that excite and titillate, inflame or give smiles. Perhaps a problem is that hard news stories have to compete with weddings and funerals, cat pics and endless fun activities like seeing what you’d look like if you were a person of the opposite sex. Yet, is that so different from traditional news outlets?

“Entertainment was beating up on news long before Zuckerberg was born,” this Atlantic article reminds us. “The back sections of the newspaper have long cross-subsidized the foreign coverage of the A-section.” However, in traditional print, even if we bought the paper for the funnies or sports, we could hardly fail to notice what the publishers had decided were the day’s headlines.

With Facebook, we train our newsfeed to show us what we want to see, by liking, commenting and sharing, so we have the power to make our newsfeed truly newsy. “You can hide your most frivolous friends, follow the Facebook page of every national newspaper, and share every NBC News link that comes your way,” The Atlantic reminds us. “But you don’t.”

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Why not?

Now, Facebook is looking to better identify what is actually “news” by establishing a curated “breaking news” tab in Watch. It will feature content generated by Facebook’s news partners, and Facebook and those partners will split any revenue. That’s important, because you can’t just give content away. (Does GM give you a free car?) You somehow have to monetize it, while at the same time facing up to the perceived responsibility social media has for somehow mitigating news trolls…

Do you want to be a maker of news instead of just a consumer? Check out NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism program to learn more.

6 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Studied Broadcast Journalism

Lights, camera, action! Celebrities grace our television and movie screens on a daily basis. But not every film and television celebrity’s career started with acting. For our aspiring broadcast journalism students, it may be encouraging to hear that the skills they learn in NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism conservatory translate well to a slew of professions — including a life in the limelight.

Whether they studied broadcast journalism or communications, it might surprise you to learn these celebs were on a journalistic track … just like you:

Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey received his bachelor’s degree in radio, television, and film in 1993 from the University of Texas at Austin. Originally, McConaughey wanted to go to law school after graduating from college, but he realized he was not interested in becoming a lawyer.

David Letterman

David Letterman graduated from the department of radio and television at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He began his broadcasting career during college as an announcer and newscaster at the student-run radio station, WBST. Letterman was fired, and later became involved with another campus station, WAGO-AM 570.

Howard Stern

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Most people know Howard Stern best as a radio personality, but he is also a television host, author, and actor. Stern graduated magna cum laude from Boston University in communications. He also received a diploma from the Radio Engineering Institute of Electronics in Fredericksburg, Virginia. After completion, he earned a first class radio-telephone operator license — which is a required certificate for all radio broadcasters issued by the Federal Communications Commission.

Jerry Seinfeld

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Jerry Seinfeld first attended State University of New York at Oswego. However, during his second year, he transferred to Queens College, City University of New York. He graduated in communications and theater.

Wendy Williams

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Wendy Williams isn’t your typical daytime talk show host. Williams attended Northeastern University in Boston from 1982-1986, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in communications. While she was in college, she was a DJ for the radio station, WRBB.

James Marsden

Heartthrob James Marsden attended Oklahoma University to study broadcast journalism, but he ended up dropping out of college to pursue a career in acting.

This just goes to show, you never know where broadcast journalism can take you!

Do you know any celebrities who studied broadcast journalism? Let us know below! Ready to study broadcast journalism? Apply today for the New York Film Academy’s Broadcast Journalism School.

Broadcast Journalists: Why You Should Spend a Year in NYC

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It’s fair to say that nothing is more exciting than being a broadcast journalist in New York City. Aspiring anchors, presenters and reporters from around the world flock to this capital of commerce, entertainment, and industry, seeking to make a mark and gain experience alongside broadcast giants.

Not only is the city bursting with millions of stories, but it is also the headquarters for an astounding concentration of leading new media and traditional news companies. If you’re wondering why New York City might be the right place to spend a year studying broadcast journalism, we’ve rounded up some great reasons:

News Happens Here

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From Wall Street to Broadway, from the Bronx to Staten Island, the world pays attention to stories that center on events in New York City. For example, New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism students Ljuba-Lada Marinovic and Kyle Morris were able to make it to the scene to cover breaking news regarding a tragic car accident in Times Square, shooting a story for European media giant RTL. New York City is the right place to be if you want to be where news breaks first.

Feeding Your Passion

Broadcast journalists, first and foremost, are storytellers — and that requires passion and craft. What better way to feed your passion for journalism than by living in New York, a major global city packed with thriving culture, diversity, incredible art, amazing food, awe-inspiring landmarks, jaw-dropping skylines, and enough sizzling energy to inspire you and your work for the rest of your life?

Industry Connections

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As Forbes notes, most national media outlets are centered in only a handful of major cities, and New York is at the top of the list! Here, aspiring journalists are in the heart of the world’s leading new media companies, such as theSkimm, Group Nine Media, SheKnows, Gimlet Media, Refinery29, Mic, NewsWhip, and News Deeply.

And, if you want to go the more tradition route, there’s ABC, Univision, CBS, MSNBC, Fox News, NBC, CNN, Telemundo, ESPN, MTV, and more.

From morning shows to late night news, from new media to The New York Times, the city provides an incredible opportunity for aspiring broadcast journalists to experience their industry at its zenith.

Learn from the Best

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At the New York Film Academy, aspiring broadcasters learn from a faculty of working industry professionals who remain active in the field. And, in addition, NYFA students may have the opportunity to enjoy special master classes and workshops taught through our Guest Speaker series. Past broadcast journalism guests have included MSNBC primetime host Rachel Maddow, Emmy award-winning journalist Bob Dotson, and photojournalist Stanley Greene.

As a NYFA student you’ll talk with network Executive Producers, as well as top producers from digital news publishers, who visit NYFA to give our Broadcast Journalism students insightful “off-the-record” briefings. Students in the conservatory program get an exclusive “behind-the-scenes” tour of NBC News. Our instructors have local, national, even international production credits.

Community

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New York City is a wonderful environment to not only pursue a new professional life, but also to be able to plug in with like-minded people who are passionate about shared interests besides your work. You’ll be able to meet and develop relationships with many of the best and brightest fellow broadcasters in the world; As one of the most diverse cities on the planet, New York offers burgeoning broadcast journalism students opportunities to grow and flourish not only in their professional pursuits, but also in their personal lives. Here, the world is at your fingertips.

Incredible Training Opportunities

Most of all, New York City itself offers aspiring journalists incredible opportunities to roll up their sleeves and get busy crafting content. At the New York Film Academy’s conservatory program, broadcast students are making their own stories hands-on from day one. You’ll learn from working industry professionals and get plenty of practice covering stories from every angle with some of the latest technology. Most importantly, you will find your own “editorial voice,” the qualities that make you stand out as unique.

Ready to start your journey as a broadcast journalist in New York City? Check out NYFA’s broadcast journalism programs.

 

How Broadcast Journalism is Shifting in 2017

Broadcast journalism has played a significant role over the last few decades in reporting national and international news. In 1935, Howard Armstrong broadcast the first radio transmission by using frequency modulation — which we know better as FM today.

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In the beginning, broadcast journalism was used for entertainment purposes. Radio news broadcasts did take place in the 1930s, but local commentators were limited on the length of news segments. Edward Murrow, a commentator for CBS, took over broadcast journalism and radio news there in 1937. He moved to London to become CBS’ chief correspondent for Europe, and it was then that radio news took off.

He started the pioneering radio news program “World News Roundup,” the first that allowed listeners to hear reports from around the globe. By 1940, Murrow’s audience of listeners had grown to 22 million, and included President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his cabinet. The Nazi concentration camp in Buchenwald was just one of the many sensitive topics that Murrow tackled in his radio program,

When Murrow moved back to New York City, he was approached about hosting a weekly program on a new, still largely experimental medium — television. His program, “See It Now,” aired in 1951, and helped set the standards for today’s broadcast journalism.  

 

New York Film Academy’s Broadcast Journalism School

The journalism industry can often be highly competitive — especially when it comes to broadcast journalism. The New York Film Academy’s Broadcast Journalism School isn’t your typical school. Our program offers students hands-on experience and emphasizes professional skills that will give students the edge that they need for their career in the real world.

NYFA faculty members have worked on diverse platforms such as “ABC World News Tonight,” “PBS NewsHour,” and “NBC Nightly News.” Our instructors, with real world experience, are one of the reasons that NYFA is one of the leading broadcast journalism schools in the nation. One NYFA alumna and one student journalist became accredited by the White House Press Corps, and were chose to accompany President Barack Obama to the 2016 NATO Heads-of-State Summit in Poland. This opportunity for our alumna and student journalist made history because they were the first student journalists to ever travel with the president of the U.S.

 

Broadcast Journalism and Politics

Gone are the days when presidents traveled heavily and promoted themselves door-to-door during the presidential campaign. In today’s modern age, candidates communicate with voters through multiple electronic and digital platforms. Most of the candidates were poised on social media with well-rehearsed answers for interviews. Voters generally only got glimpses of in-person interactions when the Democratic and Republican candidates bared their teeth at one another during live-streamed debates.

The relationship between broadcast journalists and political candidates is often tumultuous. In February, White House press secretary Sean Spicer barred reporters from several large outlets, including “The New York Times” and “CNN,” from attending an off-camera press briefing.  During the presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump often targeted members of the media, stating that they were feeding the public wrong information.  

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We rarely see technology transforming politics, but the election of 2016 proved that the media could inform and influence the public down to the last Instagram post. Throughout the campaign, Ted Cruz live-streamed his appearances on Periscope. Marco Rubio used “Snapchat Stories” at all his stops along the campaign trail. Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush went head-to-head on Twitter over student debt, while Bernie Sanders had almost 2 million followers on Facebook.  

Prior to the 2016 election, some presidential candidates would offer exclusive one-on-one interviews with media before Election Day. Exclusive interviews with the media are often promoted heavily but are often limited. Nonetheless, this type of exposure is free publicity and is a win-win for everyone.

Sitting down casually with talk shows are also free and harmless media coverage. President Barack Obama appeared several times on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” during his eight-year term. During his final appearance with the talk show host, Obama talked about what he had planned to do once her left office. These types of interviews can humanize a president or presidential candidate and make them more relatable with the public.

So what does this shift toward social media in the realm of political, news, and even business coverage mean for the future of broadcast journalism?

The Future of Broadcast Journalism

There has been a rapid rise of online media viewing, often driven by platforms such as video-on-demand and video-sharing websites.

While broadcast journalism remains one of the top ways to receive news, there is no doubt that digital media has emerged as the most important source of news among millennials. Aspiring broadcast journalists must adapt and learn to excel in a variety of media. That’s why the NYFA Broadcast Journalism program is a skills-based course of study. By becoming proficient in the techniques of multimedia journalism, our graduates are ready for careers in both legacy as well as digital media.

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According to Richard Sambrook, professor of journalism at Cardiff University, “…better Internet connections, better devices, and better file compression formats, combined with an aggressive expansion in online video offerings from both video on demand services like Netflix and social media platforms like Facebook means that things are changing, and that the pace of change facing television and television news providers is accelerating.”

At NFYA, we equip our broadcast journalism students with knowledge that will allow them to grow with the industry. In addition to traditional broadcast skills, our year-one broadcast students will learn how to create first-person narratives found on digital platforms such as Vice, Wired, Vox, Quartz and AJ+. We also offer a variety of intensive broadcast workshops.

What do you think the future holds for broadcast journalism? Let us know your thoughts below! And check out NYFA’s broadcast journalism programs.

 

Women to Follow in Broadcast Journalism

With thousands of female journalists working all over the world, the field of broadcast journalism has come a long way over the last few decades. To the aspiring female journalists ready to work her way up, we recommend following these incredible women. These journalism powerhouses also started from the bottom but worked their way up the ladder to become some of the most prominent figures in the industry today.

1. Christiane Amanpour

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Born to an Iranian father and English mother, Amanpour grew up in England but left at an early age to study journalism at the University of Rhode Island’s Harrington School of Communication and Media. In 1983, she got her big break when hired by CNN as an entry-level desk assistant.

Amanpour eventually took on assignments in Europe where she reported on the fall of European communism, democratic revolutions of Eastern Europe, and the Persian Gulf War. Her reputation for being fearless grew while covering the Gulf and Bosnian wars while reporting from dangerous areas.

The British-Iranian journalist is now Chief International Correspondent for CNN, host of the nightly interview program Amanpour, and Global Affairs Anchor of AbC News. Amanpour has received numerous journalism awards and is known for being followed on Twitter by countless world leaders across the globe.

2. Kathryn Adie

Adie is an English journalist who became known for diving into the hottest disaster and war zones to deliver high-quality reporting. Getting her start at BBC as a station assistant, she eventually rose to television by joining the national news team in 1976.

She gained fame for being the first on the scene during the London Iranian Embassy siege of 1980, arriving just when the embassy was stormed by the Special Air Service. Adie went on to do many other close-to-the-action reports, some of which involved getting shot at and suffering injuries.

You can currently follow Adie on “From Our Own Correspondent,” a weekly BBC Radio 4 program she has served as presenter for since 1998.

3. Megyn Kelly

Kelly was born in Syracuse, New York, but spent most of her teenage years in Albany. During that time, she graduated high school and lost her father to a heart attack at the age of 15. After graduating from Albany Law School in 1995, she worked at a Chicago law firm office before being hired by ABC affiliate WJLA-TV as a general assignment reporter in the District of Columbia.

To the dismay of CNN president Jonathan Klein, Kelly left to join Fox News Channel in 2004. There, she provided legal segments while hosting “Kelly’s Court.” After several different positions, Kelly rose to fame while covering the 2012 United States presidential election.

Kelly is currently host of “The Kelly File,” a program that covers late-breaking stories in a live format. Her greatest accolade to date has been her inclusion in the 2014 Time list of the 100 most influential people.

4. Katie Couric

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Couric is an author and American journalist who has served as host on all three of the biggest television networks in the U.S.— ABC, CBS, and NBC. She graduated in 1979 from the University of Virginia and landed her first job that same year at the ABC News bureau in Washington, D.C and eventually joined CNN as an assignment editor.

From there, Couric served as an assignment editor for CNN and also reported for NBC-owned WRC-TV. Her work there earned her an Emmy and Associated Press award. In 1989, Couric joined NBC News as Deputy Pentagon Correspondent but soon became host of Today.

She would go on to work for CBC between 2006 and 2011 before returning back to ABC News. Couric is currently the Global News Anchor for Yahoo! and in 2004 was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. Her first book, “The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives,” became a New York Times best-seller.

5. Diane Sawyer

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Sawyer got her start in the early ‘70s as an assistant to Jerry Warren, the White House deputy press secretary. Her initial role was to write press releases but eventually was tasked with drafting public statements for Richard Nixon. Sawyer eventually served as staff assistant to the president and worked during his Watergate scandal and resignation, including helping Nixon write his memoirs.

In 1978, Sawyer joined CBS News as general-assignment reporter and in 1984 became the first female correspondent on “60 Minutes”. During this time the program remained s of the top most-watched in the country. Between 1999 and 2014, Sawyer served as anchor and co-anchor on prominent programs like Good Morning America, Primetime, and ABC World News.

Few female journalists have received as many awards and recognition as Sawyer. This included being inducted into the Television Hall of Fame, two Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, and being named one of the 30 most powerful women in America by Ladies’ Home Journal.

The inspiration doesn’t end there. It would truly be remiss if we at the New York Film Academy did not offer a special shout out to another woman taking the broadcast journalism industry by storm: our very own alumna….

Joelle Garguillo

Garguillo worked in business and finance until she decided to take a risk and chase her dream of broadcast journalism. After a little research, she decided on the New York Film Academy’s intensive, hands-on program. It’s a choice Garguillo says is “the best decision I ever made.” She went from NYFA’s four-week program to the eight-week, and then a semester, and then a year. Upon successfully completing her studies, Garguillo went on to secure a job with NBC that has led her to build a full career as a digital journalist at NBC News and a correspondent on “New York Live,” “The Today Show” and the “Weekend Today Show.”

Garguillo sat down with NYFA to discuss her experiences: “How NYFA prepared me for the real world was that I realized what it took to put together two minutes, whether it be for online, for TV, or for just class, takes a lot of work. And that’s what NYFA did for me. NYFA prepared me for the amount of work and love and care you will put into every single story.” Garguillo was able to turn her NYFA education, passion, and determination into a prolific career as a leading digital journalist.

Who are your broadcast journalism heroes? Let us know in the comments below!

How the 2016 Presidential Election is Changing Journalism

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Election season is in full swing here in the United States, which means journalists all over the country are doing the same thing they do every four years — delivering news to American citizens. Of course, the way people receive their news has been changing drastically over the last decade or two.

Only 15 years ago, no one had mobile phones, blogs, and social media sites. Now, our news has exploded through the digital, mobile, and social media landscape. 

Thanks to the 2016 presidential election and two “interesting” major candidates, we’re seeing that technology has a greater impact on broadcast journalism than ever before. Digital video is ubiquitous. Journalistic integrity is more critical — and more impactful — than ever. Thanks to a very unusual election cycle, it’s easy to see that aspiring broadcast journalists must navigate an industry of increasing complexity and importance, and have perhaps more responsibility than ever when it comes to communicating with the public. This is partially why the Broadcast Journalism programs at NYFA concentrate on equipping future journalists with the diverse cross-disciplinary skills, experience, and ethical awareness necessary for the reality of 21st century journalism; journalism is changing, and changing fast. And it matters, a lot.

Here are some of the biggest ways this upcoming election has changed the game when it comes to how people communicate — and consume — news.

Domination of Social Media

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Arguably the most significant new technology today, social media has taken a major part in the coverage of the 2016 election. From Facebook and Twitter to Tumblr and Reddit, there are plenty of online sources for people to get their news. But how much larger is social media’s influence today than, say, 10 years ago?

According to Pew Research Center, only eight percent of Americans used social networking sites in 2005. But by September of 2013, than figure changed to 73 percent. Now, we’re seeing a dramatic increase in older voters using social media to follow political figures and get their election news.

For broadcast journalists, social media offers the perfect platform for delivering news in many ways, like linking articles, posting messages, and the use of full motion and digital video. With Facebook and Twitter, journalists are also able to engage their audience of thousands like never before.

Now, the question of delivering all social media news fairly is more important than ever. What’s stopping Twitter and Facebook from implementing algorithms that favor a specific political party, subtly skewing election coverage? There’s already heavy speculation that Twitter curates trending hashtags, which means that what you see as the most popular topics may not actually be the most popular. And there’s no law regulating a social media platform’s power to do this. And, on the flip side, how do journalists navigate the ethical side of social media news? This is a new frontier, and a very important question for the future of media consumption.

Mobile Dethrones Other Platforms

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There was a time when the popular way to obtain news was via newspaper, television, and radio. But with the rise of mobile phones, these classic news sources have seen a decrease in use.

According to Pew Research Center’s 2016 report, daily newspaper circulation fell by seven percent, and newspaper ad revenue also fell by eight percent, between 2014 and 2015. In other words, fewer people are looking to print publications for their news — even when there is no election going on.

And what about radio? Although it isn’t as prominent as before, FM radio still makes up 54 percent of all listening. Another popular listening platform is the podcast, which allows you to download and consume audio whenever you desire. Newer podcasts even display images along with the audio, while vodcasts include video clips as well.

As for television, research shows that the number of late-night local news viewers has fallen as much as 22 percent since 2007. Local TV stations are still seeing an increase in revenue and audience growth in 2016 — which is common during election years — but it seems only older Americans still depend on television. Millennials tend to rely on alternative news sources.

The slow decline of these stalwart media platforms is all thanks to the advent of the smart phone. People don’t need to switch on a radio or television to receive news, much less flip through a black-and-white text. Instead, news and information from all over the world is already available in the palm of their hands — on a device most of us carry at all times.

In keeping with the times, broadcast journalists are turning more to apps and social media pages in order to do their job. And this certainly applies in the case of covering the 2016 Presidential Election.

Credibility in Question More Than Ever

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We’ve already talked about how big social media sites can get away with “curating” the news you see. Just last month, Facebook began changing their trending feature after an outcry from political conservatives.

The fact is, accusations of bias in broadcast journalism are nothing new. But thanks to new platforms and software, questions of authenticity are on the rise. There’s no denying the rise of Adobe Photoshop and other powerful graphic editing tools, and their questionable presence in journalism.

Of course, we know that the media manipulating photographs and other images is nothing new. But with so many people flipping through their social media sites and (sadly) believing everything they see, using altered images can prove more influential than ever before.

On top of facing increased scrutiny in an ever-broadening, increasingly cluttered landscape, broadcast journalists now face the challenge of providing honest, authentic news and images across a huge spectrum of platforms when everyone else might not be playing fair. Now more than ever, integrity and professionalism are key. This is why, as Bill Einreinhofer, NYFA’s Chair of Broadcast Journalism, observes: “NYFA students learn the ethical responsibilities that come with being journalist. It’s not just a ‘job.’” Indeed, broadcast journalism is a calling — and an essential social service, made more social than ever in this changing landscape of news consumption. And the world needs multimedia journalists capable of working across platforms to deliver truth to a growing digital audience.

 

Creative Jobs Ideal For Broadcast Journalists: Looking Beyond The Nightly News

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In the past, we’ve discussed some of the different job roles at TV stations, but not every graduate with a broadcast journalism degree works in television or radio permanently. Studying broadcast journalism provides graduates with a wide variety of skills that can be useful in other areas of the news business, or different fields entirely.

Why Some Broadcast Journalists Change Careers

The average Millennial changes jobs every 4.4 years, according to this Forbes article from a few years ago. That’s an average for all workers; individuals in television news often change jobs every two or three years, especially if they’re in on-air positions where contracts are typically renegotiated that often. While some people may work at one station for twenty years or more, it’s much more common to change stations and job titles at least a few times.

Some broadcast journalists acquire new job titles as they work their way up to a career goal—say, evening news anchor in a “Top 100” station. However, some broadcast journalists leave the broadcasting business entirely, moving to print journalism or related fields like PR, marketing, or photography.

Reasons to Explore Other Options

There are a lot of reasons people look for creative jobs in a different field. Sometimes journalists enjoy the job, but after a while they realize they’d prefer a career with a nine-to-five schedule. In television news, dayside schedules usually start around two or three in the morning; those working evening shifts usually start work some time in the afternoon, and stay until well after the ten or eleven o’clock news. Larger stations may have a mid-day shift that starts in the morning and ends after the six o’clock news—but those shifts are highly coveted and someone still has to work the other time slots.

Some journalists change careers for financial reasons. Most people start their broadcast careers in smaller markets where pay is generally low, even for on-air positions. There have been situations where a reporter and three photographers were all living together because none of them could afford his own apartment—and there were frequent arguments in the newsroom about who was late with his share of the rent.

Working your way up to a bigger market is a way to improve your pay grade, but if you’ve chosen to stay in a city to be close to a significant other, family members, or friends, you might find that a career in television news or radio may not help you to reach your financial goals in a timely manner—if ever.

Sometimes leaving broadcasting can be an involuntary situation, especially if you work on-air. Stations often decide not to renegotiate contracts for reasons anchors and reporters have little or no control over—they may want someone younger, someone who appeals to a different demographic, or someone who does better in ratings. Often station managers think they can improve ratings by replacing an anchor with “a new face.” A non-compete clause in your contract may keep you from doing on-air work in your DMA for a certain period of time after the contract ends—usually two or three years. Again, you might find work in another market, but if you don’t want to move, you’ll have to consider another career choice.

Different Career Paths In Journalism and Other Fields

Regardless of your reasons for leaving a broadcasting job, a broadcast journalism certificate or diploma provides a versatile set of skills that will serve you well in many fields.

Public Relations and Marketing

Many public relations firms like to hire former journalists. Someone who has evaluated what is and isn’t newsworthy is in the perfect position to shape publicity efforts. You know what caused you to ignore a press release, and you also know what made you pursue a story, or pitch it to your supervisor. These skills could extend into a marketing or advertising career, where experience with a TV station’s production of local ads is also helpful.

Sales

The connection may not seem obvious at first, but journalists also build skills that boost sales careers. In a broadcasting job, you spend a lot of time trying to talk people into things—granting interviews, telling you the truth, and giving you a useful tip. Building rapport with interview subjects leads to better, more emotionally honest soundbites; in a sales jobs, it leads to a lasting relationship with customers, which ultimately leads to more sales.

Corporate

Many large corporations have their own in-house “news” operations. In order to keep employees at far-flung locations across the country or around the world up-to-date, they produce their own “news programs.” These can be half-hour programs suitable of viewing on desktop computers, or short stand-alone stories that can be watched on mobile devices. The era of the “company newsletter” is long past, replaced by corporate video. Large companies also produce Video News Releases (VNRs), which supplement or replace convention press releases. Sometimes they consist entirely of raw footage stations can then edit as they choose, while others include a fully produced package that a station need only insert a voiceover based on an accompanying script. As more and more people use full-motion video as their primary source of information, video producers will continue to play a key role corporate communications.

Photography and Documentary Films

People who have worked behind the camera sometimes find rewarding careers using their skills in other photography or videography jobs. You might work in still photography, possibly for print or online news sources. If you like the idea of working for yourself, you could do some freelance work, taking video of weddings and other personal events people want professionally recorded. If you prefer a steady paycheck, you might work for a business that provides these services.

Print Journalism, Blogs, Vlogs, and Websites

Some broadcasters may move to print or online news sources. You might enjoy the opportunity to write longer, more in-depth stories—especially for websites, where there is neither a time limit like you would have in broadcast, nor a page space limit like you would find at a newspaper. Although your editor will still give you word count limits to keep you focused on the most interesting parts of the story, you will have the opportunity to provide more detail, or different perspectives. While newspapers and magazines do have page-space limits, they still pride themselves on providing a more in-depth look at news than television or radio.

You can also choose to start your own blog or vlog (video blog) about news—or a particular type of news, like entertainment or sports. Some former journalists enjoy using their writing skills to tell stories in their own way, while others like being able to editorialize, instead of trying to keep their opinions out of their news coverage. Your skills in shooting and editing will also come in handy if you want to do a vlog or post video.

Successful blogs and vlogs are sometimes financially rewarding—however, it usually takes time to build a following, and not every video goes viral. You should plan to have a day job while building your blog into a viable source of income.

Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

“Opening Up Libel Laws” – Can the President Do That?

Donald Trump speaking on the campaign trail

Last week presidential candidate Donald Trump told supporters at a rally in Texas that, if elected, he wants to “open up libel laws” to make suing media organizations easier. A Business Insider article contains the full quote from his speech:

“I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money…. So that when The New York Times writes a hit piece, which is a total disgrace—or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons—write a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected.”

But Isn’t That Already the Law?

In a previous article, we discussed the burdens of proof for a libel suit, which include proving the defendant made a statement about the plaintiff (the person suing) that was both injurious and false. So if a media organization said something that was “negative and horrible and false” about Donald Trump—or Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, or anyone else running for public office—then yes, that candidate could sue for libel.

However, because Trump, Clinton, Sanders, Cruz, and everyone else running for public office are considered public officials, they would also have to prove something called “actual malice,” defined as knowing a statement is false and acting with reckless disregard for the statement’s truth or falsity.

Keep in mind, this only applies to three groups: Public officials, a group that includes politicians and many government employees; public figures, a group including celebrities, athletes, and heads of major corporations; and limited-purpose public figures—individuals who have inserted themselves into a particular controversy with the goal of influencing the outcome. If you don’t fall into any of the above categories, and a media outlet says something about you that is both false and injurious, you would not have to prove actual malice to win a defamation suit.

The idea of actual malice is to protect freedom of the press, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment. Public figures, after all, already command the media’s attention and can refute negative statements easily. If a media organization said something patently false and injurious about a presidential candidate like Trump, he could call a press conference and denounce the false statement any time he wanted. The average person would not have that luxury and would find it more difficult to refute a libelous statement.

While Trump wasn’t specific about what aspect of libel laws he wanted to change, actual malice would probably be the biggest stumbling block if a public figure wanted to sue for libel over a statement that met the other burdens of proof.

Does the President Have the Authority to Rewrite Libel Laws?

A Washington Post article notes that rewriting any of the country’s laws exceeds presidential authority in most circumstances. However, the article also notes that presidents nominate justices for the Supreme Court, and a president might appoint a justice who could swing the Supreme Court decision in the president’s favor, should a specific case about libel make its way to the highest court in the land. While it is theoretically possible for a president to change the libel laws (or other kinds of laws) in this way, future journalists can rest assured that this is a highly unlikely scenario.

Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

The Ultimate List Of Broadcast Journalism Terms

The Ultimate List of Broadcast Journalism Jobs

The amount of technical jargon in the world of journalism—often even for very simple concepts—is notorious, and even if you’ve spent a few years at broadcast journalism school there will still be terms that’ll inevitably mystify you when starting your career.

But fret not! Below you’ll find a glossary of the most common broadcast journalism terms, as well as definitions for the most confusing and ambiguous lingo still used today:

Common Broadcast Journalism Terms & Slang

Advocacy Journalism – In which the reporter or journalist openly declares their stance on an issue while attempting to espouse it with factual reporting.

Active Proceedings – Any ongoing judicial case in which the activities of journalists may impede or subvert the proceedings, typically spanning between the arrest of a suspect and sentencing. Those who contravene reporting restrictions on active proceedings may be held in contempt of court.

Actuality – Sometimes shortened to “act.” Any audio recording taken outside of the studio on location (typically referred to as a sound bite in radio; see below.)

Anchor – News anchors are responsible for presenting stories on-camera, usually from a studio location though work can take place in the field. See our broadcast journalism jobs page for more info on the different professions within the field.

AP Stylebook – The Associated Press Stylebook, commonly adhered to as the industry standard on formatting and word usage in news writing.

A-Roll – The main portion of audio video footage in a news story.

Aston – An increasingly uncommon term for the strap line, more popularly known in broadcast journalism as the lower third (see below)

Attribution – The written phrase that identifies the source of a fact, opinion, or quote in a story.

Back Timing – The practice of rehearsing the final segment of a news broadcast and timing it; during the live broadcast, the director may then speed up or slow down this segment to coincide with the scheduled finishing time of the program.

Backgrounder – A story used to provide history and context to a current news story.

Beats – The areas of expertise in which a journalist or reporter covers on a regular basis and on an in-depth level, such as politics, health, or law enforcement.

Beat Checks – A list of established contacts that a beat reporter will frequently touch base to find or develop a story. These could include the local law enforcement agency, city council, hospital, or other sources.

Blind Interview – More common in print than in broadcast journalism, a blind or off-the-record interview is one in which the interviewee is intentionally left unaccredited (also known as a non-attributable.)

Bridge – An audio track linking between two news items.

Breakbumper – A short (2-10 second) indent used as filler leading into and out of commercial breaks. Often shortened to “bump,” but not to be confused with the verb of the same name (to bump a story is to place it higher or lower on the scale of priority.)

B-Roll – Supplementary material to complement the A-Roll, such as establishing shots or graphical overlays.

Chroma Key – Also known as green screening. See this post for further information.

Chyron – The words on the screen that identify speakers, locations, or story subjects. Chryon is a trade name for a type of character generator. 

Citizen Journalism – Reporting which takes place outside of what is usually considered mainstream media, predominantly carried out by members of the public without formal training. Can include the work of bloggers and social media platforms.

Closed-Ended Question  A direct question intended to elicit a yes-or-no answer as opposed to an open-ended question intended to encourage a lengthy answer.

Cold Copy – News script not previously read by the reporter until the camera is rolling. Sometimes referred to by the slang term “rip n’ read.”

Cold Open – Any type of video which rolls before the camera cuts to the anchors, usually featuring a voice over and ending on a form of cliffhanger.

Correspondent – A reporter who files stories from outside the newsroom—usually someone assigned to cover events in another city, state, or country.

Crawl – AKA the news ticker, a thin bar of scrolling text which informs viewers of any upcoming breaking news or weather alerts.

Cutaway – A shot of something other than the main action of an action sequence. In an interview, the cutaway is usually a shot of the reporter listening as the source talks. Necessary to maintain continuity and avoid jump cuts.

Dateline – The specific location where a reporter is delivering a story. Usually announced in the sign-out or sign-off.

Donut – A produced news package with a live shot, with a live intro, and tag.

Downcut – Chopping off the end of a story or sound bite. Opposite of upcut.

Effort – A verb in newsrooms, as in “I am efforting that package to have it ready for tonight’s broadcast.”

Feature – A non-breaking news story on people, trends, or issues. A feature story isn’t necessarily related to a current event.

Feed – A satellite or microwave transmission of live or recorded material.

Follow-Up – A story updating or supplying additional details about an event that’s been previously covered.

Fullscreen Graphic or FS – A still or animated image, usually computer generated, that takes up the whole screen.

Happy Talk – Casual, informal, and light-hearted chatter between the anchors. Can be used as a form of bumper.

Hard News – The news of the day. Factual coverage of serious, timely events (crime, war, business, politics, etc.)

Hit or Glitch – Any distortion or technical distraction in video or audio.

Hot or Overmodulated – Either too loud (hot audio) or too bright (hot video). Engineers often say that hot video “blooms” on screen.

Hot Roll – When a crew in the field doesn’t have enough time to feed back footage to the newsroom, so they must roll it live from the truck during the broadcast.

Human Interest – A news story focusing on a personality or individual’s story with wide appeal to a general audience.

IFB or Interrupt Feedback – The earpiece through which a director or producer instructs a correspondent in the field or anchor in the studio. The producer interrupts whatever feedback the reporter is getting in the earpiece.

Join in Progress (JIP) – A direction to the control room to cut to a broadcast already in progress.

Jump Cut – An edit in a news package that interrupts continuity. Example: an interviewee speaking followed immediately by another shot of the same interviewee speaking at a different time, so the image “jumps.” Avoided by using cutaways or b-roll.

Kicker – A light story that ends a newscast.

Lead – The key information of the story, usually presented at the beginning of the segment. Not to be confused with the “lead story,” being the first presented in the broadcast and often the highest in priority (confusingly also referred to as the “lead.”)

Leading Questions – Questions intended to steer an interviewee in a particular direction.

Lip Flap – Video of somebody talking, with the audio portion muted. Happens when using video of people being interviewed as B-roll. Avoid it.

Live – Put on the air in real time, not pre-recorded or pre-produced.

Lower Third – The bottom third of the frame containing text information regarding the current story, the anchors’ or interviewee’s identification, and other relevant captions.

Miscue – An error in which footage or audio is played before its intended time, resulting in overlapping elements in the broadcast.

MOS – An acronym for “man on street” interview, in which a reporter on location gets spontaneous sound bites comprised of reactions to a story from members of the public. Also referred to as “vox populi.

NATSOT or NAT Package – A type of pre-produced package that has no reporter track; the only audio is the natural sound of the video being shown. It may also use interview sound bites. Often used to convey the mood or atmosphere at a scene or an event.

NAT Sound – Natural sound on video that the microphone picks up. Example: Including sound of a rally with video of a rally.

News Envelope – A summary segment in which the main headlines are broadcast in brief (around a minute or less.) May have local or national sponsorship.

OC or On Cam – Abbreviation for “on camera.”

On Camera Bridge or OC Bridge – The reporter appearing on camera in the middle of the story. Used for transition between voiceovers or soundbites, or when there is no video to talk over.

Open-Ended Question – A question phrased in a way that encourages a source to give a lengthy, in-depth answer—as opposed to a closed-ended question designed to elicit a yes/no answer.

Outcue – The final three or four words of a news package, included in scripts to signal to the anchor and control room staff when the package is about to end so they can cue the next element in the program.

Over the Shoulder Graphic or OTS or OC Box – A graphic that appears over the anchor’s shoulder.

Package (sometimes Wrap) – A pre-recorded, pre-produced news story, usually by a reporter, with track, sound, B-roll, and possibly a stand-up.

POV or Point-of-View Shot – B-roll shot from the perspective of the subject, illustrating what the subject sees or saw at a given moment.

Production Element – Any piece of audio which is intended for use within the final mix, i.e. jingles, music, sound effects, and other station-specific audio.

Promo – Promotional announcement. In effect, an advertisement for a program a station or channel is carrying.

Pronouncer – Phonetic spelling of word in story, placed in copy behind correctly spelled word.

PSA – Abbreviation for “Public Service Announcement.”

Raw Video – Unedited video, just as it was shot. Also called field video.

Reader – A script read entirely by the anchor on camera, without sound bites or video.

Remote – A live shot from the field, where a satellite truck is required to transmit the image.

Rundown – An electronic or paper form created by the line producer of a news broadcast. Gives specific details of every element in a newscast, including the order of stories, video, audio, and graphic elements and timing for each.

ROSR – Radio On Scene Report. Audio broadcast from the scene of a breaking news story, or shortly in the wake of recent events.

Rundown – An electronic or paper form created by the line producer of a news broadcast. Gives specific details of every element in a newscast, including the order of stories, video, audio and graphic elements and timing for each.

Sidebar – A small story, graphic, or chart accompanying a bigger story on the same topic.

Sign Off, Sig, Sig Out – Reporter giving name and dateline at the end of a package or report.

Slate – A full-screen graphic, shown on screen before the beginning of pre-produced video which identifies the story title, the reporter’s name, and the total running time. Only for newsroom use; not meant for broadcast.

Slug – The name given to a story for newsroom use.

SOT or Sound Bit – “Sound on Tape.” A recorded comment, usually audio and video, from a news source other than the anchor, narration, or voiceover, played during a news story. Usually an edited portion of a larger statement.

Spot – A commercial.

Stacking – Lining up stories within a newscast based on their important and relationship to one another.

Stagger-through – A full rehearsal of the show.

Standup – A reporter speaking to camera, not covered by video.

Studio (in the) – A story updating or supplying additional details about an event that has been previously covered.

Still – A still image as opposed to a moving video image. Stills can be used to illustrate a story and can sometimes be displayed over track or interview clips instead of video footage.

Sting  A brief piece of music, typically less than fifteen seconds, used to punctuate the end of a segment or story. The sting is often the station’s own jingle. 

Stop Set  The time allotted to any commercial breaks within the broadcast.

Survey Week, Sweeps Week – The week in which a station’s viewership is monitored and rated.

Switch – An instruction given to the control room to cut to another camera or video source.

Tag – A paragraph at the end of a news story, usually delivered by the anchor, that provides additional information or sums up the item.

Tease  A short description of an upcoming story designed to keep the viewer watching through commercial breaks.

Tight on – A direction to the camera crew to zoom in on a subject so that they fill the shot (e.g. “Tight on anchor/guest.”)

Time Code – The time signature on a camera or recording device—actual time a story is being shot on a 24-hour basis, i.e., 1300 is 1 p.m., 0900 is 9 a.m. Includes hours, minutes, seconds, and video frames.

Toss – When an anchor or reporter turns over a portion of the show to another anchor or reporter.

Track – The reporter’s written and recorded script in a news package.

Tracking – The act of recording a script.

TRT – “Total running time.” The length of an edited package.

Two-Shot – Most often an interview guest and the back of the reporter’s head. Also used to refer to any shot including two people; two anchors at a single news desk, for instance.

Upcut – Chopping off the beginning of the audio or video of a shot or video story. Opposite of downcut.

Video Journalist or VJ – A reporter who shoots his or her own video and may even edit it. Also referred to as a “Multimedia Journalist.”

Videographer – A name for a photographer or cameraperson.

VO or Voiceover – “Voiceover” followed by “sound on tape.” A news script, usually read live, that includes video, track, and at least one sound bite.

VOSOT – “Voiceover” followed by “sound on tape.” A news script, usually read live, that includes video, track, and at least one sound bite.

Watermark – A semi-transparent graphic, usually the station’s logo, placed in one corner of the broadcast feed.

Woodshedding – The practice of annotating a news script to denote which words should be spoken with emphasis.

Know of any other terms which should be included here? Any that are still causing confusion and warrant further explanation? Head on down to the comments and let’s make the murky world of broadcast journalism terms a little clearer!

Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

Journalism Jobs In The News Department Beyond The Control Room

Channel 10 news room employees

Producers frequently do many of the same tasks as reporters—they come up with story ideas, and in some cases do the legwork of setting up interviews or chasing down leads. They’re also usually responsible for “stacking the show”—putting the stories for a broadcast in order, starting with the A block. This means deciding what to lead with—what was the biggest story of the day, or overnight if you’re working on a morning show. You will also have to decide how much time to devote to each story.

Producers’ duties can vary from one station to another, with larger stations having more producers, sometimes with different titles. Smaller stations (where many journalists start their careers after graduating) usually just have one producer per newscast. In these small-market stations, one producer may be responsible for the morning show, another for the five and six o’clock casts, and another for the ten o’clock news. (Again, this varies depending on the station—in some stations, one person may be responsible for all three evening newscasts, while another handles the morning and noon news.)

Field producers often go out with a photographer, gather facts, and interview subjects for the story while standing off-camera. Depending on the size of the station and how busy other staff members are, he or she may even go out alone, set up the camera, and record video in a pinch. The same is also true at the network level, where nationally known correspondents often arrive on scene after a field producer has already begun the process of assembling a story.  This is a good assignment if you like interviewing and chasing down stories, but don’t want the pressure of appearing in live shots or spending a lot of time fixing your hair and makeup every day.

If they’re not in a field position, most producers spend their time at the station, generating story ideas, monitoring the reporters’ work on those stories, and stacking the show.

Producers and reporters both usually report to the assignment editor, someone who monitors everything going on (including following the police scanner) and determines what stories to pursue. Often the assignments editor will give the producer a general assignment—“Give me five ideas for election coverage,” for example—and the producer will decide on a specific approach—the five angles, who covers them, when they run, etc. Producers and reporters sometimes move up to the assignments editor position after multiple years of experience.

Producing can be an ideal position for someone who wants to be a reporter but doesn’t want to be on-air. Good qualities for this job include multi-tasking, organizational skills, and the ability to work under a tight deadline. If you think producing is right for you, you’ll also need some of the same qualities as a reporter—being friendly, personable, and able to talk to a wide variety of people.

Photojournalism

Not everyone is a “people person.” Photojournalism is a good career choice for those who are interested in journalism, but aren’t comfortable talking to a lot of strange people every day.

In television news, a photographer is usually assigned to go out with a reporter and capture video and audio of the story. While the reporter usually does most of the talking and tries to get the subject to open up, the photographer has an equally important job: Finding a visual way to tell the story.

This is not a job for someone who just wants to set up the camera and pay no attention to the news topic. Your job as a photographer is to understand the story, the angle the reporter is going for, related issues, etc. That way you can seek out shots that help tell the story.

A photographer’s job can be critical to producing a package that not only tells the facts, but makes viewers care. Yes, the reporter will do everything in his or her power to get the interviewee to open up and say something with emotional impact. But sometimes even the most skilled journalist can’t get a subject to say anything beyond a rote recitation of facts. Yes, you can complete the assignment that way, but whenever possible, you want to present something viewers will relate to on an emotional level.

This is where the photographer comes in. If you’re paying attention, you might get a shot of something in the interviewee’s office or home that tells us more about that person than he or she ever would. Maybe the police chief has the picture of a missing child whose case has been unsolved for twenty years on her desk. That tells us more about the kind of difficulties the chief faces in her job, and her determination to solve the crime even after many years, than she would probably tell a reporter in a standard interview about the department’s new software program to help find missing kids.

It’s important that the photographer and reporter work together as a team. Sometimes the photographer notices things the reporter misses because he or she is busy trying to make eye contact with the interview subject. Just because your job isn’t to interview, doesn’t mean you can’t ask the occasional question, or point something out to the reporter. Sometimes a casual questoin like, “Hey, that’s an interesting picture, where was it taken?” can bring a new angle to the reporter’s attention, and get the subject talking about something you can use. Cultivating basic interviewing skills is also important because, during busy times, a short-staffed assignments editor might ask you to go interview a subject by yourself.

Editors take the video from a shoot and edit it into a package, VO (voice over) or VO/SOT (voice over with sound bite). In smaller stations, photographers sometimes double as editors. This can be useful because if you do both jobs, you can start thinking about how you’ll edit a package as you shoot. However, in larger stations, photographers frequently run from one story to the next and have no time to edit, so these stations usually employ a full-time editor.

Editing is another job that requires you to pay attention and think about different ways to tell a story. When you edit a package, you receive a script written by the reporter. The script contains the package intro, the reporter’s voice over script, sound bites from subjects, and usually some direction about cover video/ambient sound (“cover of children playing at the park,” “cover of crowd with ambient noise from cheering fans,” “cover of the mayor greeting supporters,” etc.). This leaves you with some room for creativity, especially if the photographer provided a wide variety of video and audio. Training in both photography and editing is a good way to boost your skills for both tasks, as you can learn a lot about shooting video from editing, and vice versa.

Increasingly, employers are looking to hire multimedia journalists (MMJ). These are individuals who can quite literally “do it all.” In an era of tight budgets, it makes good economic sense to send out one person instead of three. Local cable news outlets pioneered this approach. Now even network news and magazine programs employ MMJ’s as broadcast journalism schools place an increased emphasis on teaching the skills needed to be an MMJ.

Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

Broadcast Journalism Jobs: Is A Control Room Job Right For You?

television studio

Last week we talked about the pros and cons of on-air careers. While many people want to be in front of the camera, others prefer a behind-the-scenes job. This week we’ll discuss working in the control room or studio of a broadcast organization.

Control Room Or Production Jobs

TV and radio stations employ a variety of people to work in technical positions. A Production Assistant position is a classic entry level job. A PA is usually assigned to take care of  the many small, detail-oriented tasks that are essential to a successful program: distributing scripts, tracking down story elements (graphics, footage), and generally assisting the Show Producer in an always hectic production environment. That can mean everything from getting the anchor a bottle of water, to timing a news package and communicating its “out cue” to the director.

Production assistant jobs usually don’t have high starting salaries, but they allow you to get your foot in the door and make contacts at a TV or radio station, even if you have no previous experience. For this reason, and because production assistant jobs are often part-time, this is an ideal job for a student studying journalism. It’s also good for a recent graduate who is unable to find another job in the field due to inexperience. You’ll learn about how a TV station works, and may be able to find a mentor for the job you want to have later. If you’re not sure what you want to do, working on a news set can help you figure it out.

Camera Operators run TV studio cameras during live shows. In addition to setting up each shot, they give visual cues to the anchors using hand signals. They take direction from the Technical Director, who gives instructions via headset. Camera operators have to pay attention, even if they have static shots that don’t change often—if something goes wrong in the control room, they may be told to make a quick move with the camera to accommodate a sudden change. For example, if a graphic is wrong, you may need to quickly adjust the camera so the anchor is centered, while the director removes the incorrect graphic to the anchor’s right or left side.

Audio or Sound Board Operators control the audio during a live broadcast. In addition to the anchors’ mics, they also handle the audio for packages, other video, theme music, and live shots. Turning microphones and other sound sources on at the right time and off at the right time are equally important, and you may be doing both almost simultaneously. This job requires good concentration—if you get distracted watching the a package and forget to turn the anchor’s mic on after it concludes, viewers are going to see a talking head with no sound. Worse, if you forget to turn off the anchor’s mic while the package runs, viewers might hear him asking if his tie is straight over the package audio. Understandably, this position can be stressful and is not for everyone, but some people enjoy the fast pace and the challenge of juggling multiple audio sources.

Graphics Operators create the show’s graphics (sometimes called keys, CG, tickers, etc.) and ensure they are available for the director to use at the appropriate time during a live broadcast. This person needs to have good technical skills and specialized training for the type of software the station uses, although some stations will train the right person. Good spelling/grammar skills and attention to detail are also essential.

TV stations used to employ Tape Deck Operators, but most broadcasters have moved to digital video. Usually, one person (whose title may vary from production assistant to digital video coordinator) is assigned to run the computer where all the videos are stored. The videos are put in order of their use during the show with video management software, and the person handling this job ensures the right video is available where and when the director expects to find it.

Often it is the Technical Director who runs the studio cameras from the Control Room. The TD responds to the Director’s commands, and puts online the specific studio shots, graphics and footage the Director calls for, using a piece of equipment called a production switcher. This complicated piece of equipment is the interface between literally dozens of video sources and the “on-air feed” that goes out to viewers.

The director job requires someone with the right temperament. If something goes wrong and you start yelling at people or arguing about whose fault it was, you will quickly turn one mistake into a string or mistakes. Fix the problem to the best of your ability, and deal with any disciplinary issues after the show is over. This is also a fast-paced and potentially stressful position, but can be enjoyable for people who like to do something different every day, as no two shows are ever exactly alike.

Some stations also employ Teleprompter Operators to run the prompter while the anchor reads. Again, you have to pay attention and learn to keep pace with how fast he or she reads. Not all stations hire for this position—some require anchors to run their own prompters, while others consider running the prompter a production assistant duty. In some stations, camera operators will take turns running the camera or the prompter.

How To Get Started In A Production Career

Most people start out running either the prompter or a studio camera, or both. If you’re not interested in moving to the news department to pursue a producing or reporting career, you may want to continue in the production department.

Assuming you do well running a camera, you may be able to move up to audio or graphics. If you think you’d like to make graphics, you might ask the graphics operator if you can watch him or her prepare the graphics before the show. (Camera operators often have some downtime between shows—just make sure the studio is properly set up before you do anything else.) After several years of experience, audio and graphics operators who have proven they work well under pressure are sometimes promoted to technical director.

If you think a production career might be right for you, the best skill you can cultivate is keeping your cool under pressure. Learn to focus on solving a problem before assigning blame.

It’s also important to understand that, as with on-air careers, working in production is not for everyone. Some people find the fast pace and rapid changes too stressful, and that’s okay. There are other behind-the-scenes careers in broadcast journalism, which we’ll discuss in a later article.

Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

San Bernardino Shooting Aftermath: What You Need To Know About Covering Crime Scenes

Shot of television coverage of San Bernardino shooting

After the recent shootings in San Bernardino, in which 14 were killed and another 14 wounded, the news media naturally wanted to learn more about the shooters, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who were both killed following the attack. On Friday December 4, reporters and camera crews from CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and other major media organizations entered the rental home of Farook and Malik, with the permission of the couple’s landlord, who let them in.

All the cable networks aired a substantial portion of their inspection of the townhouse live, and soon came under fire for what some felt was interfering with the investigation. Some law enforcement experts criticized the journalists, pointing out that the house didn’t appear to have been dusted for fingerprints, and contained shredded documents that authorities might want to piece back together. Another problem was the airing of identification documents belonging to some of Farook’s relatives, including social security numbers and addresses—an obvious security issue.

What Do I Need To Know When Investigating A Crime Scene?

As a journalism student, you may have learned some general aspects of media law. In most cases, you are free to take video in any public place, or on private property if you have permission of the owner or tenant. According to this New York Daily News article, Farook and Malik’s landlord opened the door for reporters, so in that aspect they did nothing wrong.

But What About Crime Scenes?

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. You may have permission to report from a public sidewalk, but if someone was just shot there you’ll have to stay on your side of the yellow crime scene tape. Police can’t ask you to leave a public place (except in cases of public safety issues), but they can stop you from trampling on a crime scene that hasn’t been released yet.

In the case of Farook and Malik’s home, the FBI said it was no longer a crime scene as of Thursday night, and released it back to the landlord. While some might question why authorities didn’t confiscate the shredded documents in the house, the journalists had every right to be there with the landlord’s permission.

What About Airing Personal Identification Information?

The real problem occurred when some networks aired footage identifying relatives of Farook, including addresses and social security numbers. It’s obviously wrong to air anyone’s social security number, due to the potential for identity theft. Names and addresses are usually available with a brief internet search, but in some situations, airing them without permission is still a bad editorial decision.

In the San Bernardino situation, for example, you have relatives of an individual who killed 14 people and wounded 14 more. What if a loved one of a victim decided to get even by harassing or even harming one of Farook’s relatives? Could the network that aired that person’s personal information be held responsible?

According to the Digital Media Law Project, a person can only sue for invasion of privacy if the information shared by the media is otherwise private—such as medical or financial information (this includes social security numbers, in most cases).

In general, publishing a person’s address is not considered grounds for an “invasion of privacy” lawsuit against the media. After all, a lawyer for the network could argue that anyone with an internet connection and a credit card can get any address he or she wants. A person who was determined to track down one of Farook’s relatives, for any reason, could probably do it even if a cable network hadn’t flashed their address on a national news program. On the other hand, the network’s airing of that personal information certainly made things easy for any viewers who were inclined to harass Farook’s relatives. Some might argue the broadcast could have encouraged already-angry viewers to take their feelings out on the individuals whose information was aired.

Regardless of the legal implications, airing personal identification of Farook’s relatives was a poor editorial decision. Some networks made an effort to avoid showing sensitive information—CNN told the New York Times it avoided “close-up footage of sensitive or identifiable information, like photos or ID cards,” and Fox News had a similar statement.

MSNBC, however, did show footage of the relatives’ identifying info, plus pictures of Farook and Malik’s six-month-old daughter. (The network’s anchor, Andrea Mitchell, told the camera crew to pan away from the child’s pictures, and the network later apologized.)

Think Carefully When Doing Live Shots

This highlights a problem of any live broadcast: You can’t edit what you just aired. If you’re gathering video for later and aren’t sure if you should air something, you can always ask a colleague during the editing process. But if you’re doing a live shot of a crime scene, you won’t get that chance.

Unfortunately, you can’t predict what you might find when working your way through a recently-released crime scene. If possible, it’s always a good idea to briefly go through the building before going live. It will help you to decide what you can safely air, and what you should entirely avoid.

If it’s not possible to preview the scene before going live, plan on starting with a wide shot of the room and panning slowly around. If you pan over any identifying information, the details probably won’t be visible to viewers. You can always ask the photographer to zoom in if you see something interesting that doesn’t seem sensitive.

If you do realize that you are showing something personal and unnecessary to the story, do your best to direct the photog away from it as quickly as possible. There is nothing wrong with simply saying, “Let’s not show that,” like MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell did during the live shot at Farook and Malik’s home, when she told the crew, “Let’s not show the child.” This lets viewers know you are doing your best to avoid unnecessarily airing sensitive information in an unpredictable situation.

Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

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Social Media Means Journalists Should Work Harder Than Ever To Avoid Media Bias

Set of Today Show seen through iPhone

What is Media Bias?

As a journalism student, you’ve probably learned a lot about objectivity (what all reporters are supposed to have) and media bias (what you want to avoid). Despite the fact that most journalism schools cover the subject of media bias, the topic is a growing concern for journalists—and future journalists—in the digital age.

Media bias is generally defined as journalists or news organization selecting and covering stories based on their own opinions or preferences. This may mean they choose not to cover a story, or that they spend less time on it than other topics. Or it may mean they cover a story in a way that unfairly portrays a person or situation involved in the story.

But What Counts As Media Bias?

Some examples of situations that often spark accusations of media bias:

  • Politics—one of the most frequent reasons , usually relating to the amount of time spent on different sides of an issue or the perceived slant of a story about a politician or issue.
  • Race/gender/religion/sexual orientation—viewers sometimes question whether one of these characteristics affects a news organization’s coverage of a story, such as the recent controversy over the New York Times’ coverage of the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado.
  • Parent companies and advertisers—sometimes viewers think a media organization’s coverage of a story is biased because it involves an advertiser or parent company of the media organization.
  • Personal biases of the reporter—sometimes audience members perceive bias because the reporter has a personal relationship with someone or something involved in the story.

How Do I Avoid Media Bias?

When studying journalism, one of the first things you learn about objectivity is that no one is ever really completely objective. We all have opinions about the people and situations we encounter every day. As a reporter, your job is not to let those opinions affect how you cover stories.

Most likely, you learned in your journalism classes that you can do this by sticking to the facts—just report who, what, when, why, where, and how, and let the audience form their own opinions. Sounds simple, right?

But in the real world, things are not always simple. Sometimes, as in the case of the New York Times article about the Planned Parenthood shooting, audience members perceive bias based on word choices. The original version of the Times’ profile on the man arrested for the shooting read, “Acquaintances described John L. Dear, Jr., who was arrested in a fatal rampage at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado, as a gentle loner…. “

The profile was clearly complicated, since Dear wasn’t available for an interview, and the Times reporter’s job was, essentially, to interview people who knew the subject and form a picture of the man.

Was using the word “gentle” problematic? It certainly made some readers angry. Many people posted sarcastic tweets about the juxtaposition between “gentle” and “killed three and wounded nine”. Others thought Dear would have been described differently if he wasn’t a white male. Still others thought the Times was sympathizing with Dear.

But we’ve all read articles or seen TV interviews where a neighbor described someone arrested for murder as “such a nice man, I just can’t believe it.” Why don’t those stories incite complaints of media bias?

The problem perceived by some readers most likely arose from the phrasing. Technically, the article did say “acquaintances describe,” clearly not expressing the opinion of the paper or journalist—right?

Well, maybe. “Acquaintances” is a little vague, and suggests the description is a summation of what the reporter gleaned from interviewing many people. Had the article instead quoted a specific person saying, “he was a gentle loner,” it might have been received very differently. If three different people used the word “gentle” to describe Dear, they should all have been quoted separately.

Ultimately, the Times changed the description (removing “gentle”) without comment. (The updated article here quotes several people who called Dear a loner, but none uses the word “gentle”.) Whether they genuinely felt they’d made a mistake or they were simply tired of being the news story, we’ll probably never know.

What Can I Do?

When covering politics, be sure to cover both angles as equally as you can. When describing a politician’s intentions, the best bet is to use a soundbite from him or her. If video or audio is not available, let your audience know you are quoting directly from the candidate or an official press release. If you have a personal connection to a story, tell the person making the assignment. If he or she wants you to cover it anyway, it’s generally a good idea to give the audience full disclosure that one of the people involved is your cousin, close friend, etc.

What If Do That And Someone Still Complains Of Media Bias?

In today’s online world of social media and viral videos, people can get offended by just about anything, and more than one person has accused a media organization of bias simply because he or she didn’t like the facts presented in the story. You should always check your facts and present them in as objective a manner as possible, but even that doesn’t guarantee you’ll avoid complaints of bias.

Another very important thing you can do to minimize potential problems is always be ready to explain your choices if questioned. Ask yourself why you are choosing to spend more time on one story than another, or why you chose certain words in describing a person or situation. This not only helps improve your objectivity, but it will also make things go more smoothly if a story you cover is ever called into question. Here are some examples:

“If you watch the beginning of the report, you’ll hear me say that I’m quoting John Doe, an organizer of today’s political rally. Due to our severe weather coverage, we didn’t have time to air my full interview with Mr. Doe as planned, but you can watch it on our website.”

“We spent more time covering Candidate X today because she made a campaign stop here in town. When a national political candidate from either party visits our area, we consider that newsworthy, and we plan to cover Candidate Y’s campaign stop here next week. We also interviewed supporters of both Candidate X and Candidate Y to get their reaction to Candidate X’s visit today.”

While that might not eliminate claims of bias, it does show that you are aware of such criticism and how your news organization works to avoid bias.

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Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

The Upcoming FCC Spectrum Auction: How The Broadcast Landscape Is Changing

FCC spectrum allocation
It’s no secret that the way we watch things is changing at a rapid pace. While 77% of adults say they regularly watch TV via cable or satellite, in the past decade, TV streaming services have gone from largely nonexistent to almost half (46%) of American households using services like Hulu and Amazon Prime, with that number jumping up to 62% when we look at millennials, according to Nielsen.

Broadcasters once had a monopoly when it came to TV news. Increasingly they are one source among many with the proliferation of streaming news and internet news radio. So what does this mean for how the FCC currently reserves spectrum space and the amount is reserves for TV stations?

What is the Spectrum Auction?

According to the FCC, the broadcast spectrum Incentive Auction was planned to address the nation’s changing media needs as the amount of spectrum space reserved for television begins to become obsolete as less and less Americans watch TV via cable or satellite. As the use of wireless devices (mainly cell phones and routers) has increased exponentially in the past ten years, the available wireless spectrum remained static—there is only a finite amount of spectrum. Broadcasters, like TV and radio stations, as well as wireless providers like Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint, all have a license with the FCC to broadcast on a specific frequency; each can use a limited amount of spectrum in its region.

Why the Auction?

Wireless carriers have pressured the FCC for years to allow them to broadcast on the 700MHz frequency in the name of better coverage for cell phone users. In May of 2014, the FCC adopted a Report and Order, setting up rules for the auction, which is expected to be held in 2016. Currently, broadcasters can apply for a “reverse auction” where they volunteer to either stop using the frequency, or move to either a Low-VHF channel or a High-VHF channel (depending on where the broadcaster is starting from) in exchange for financial incentives. (VHF stands for “very high frequency,” and refers to the area of the spectrum used by a broadcaster.) In some cases, broadcasters will share spectrum space with another broadcaster. This gives other wireless users the opportunity to bid on new frequencies or shares of spectrum.

Can Broadcasters Opt Out?

Broadcasters that don’t want to move are not required to do so. Participation in the auction is voluntary and requires an application with the FCC. Keep in mind that most radio and TV stations are owned by larger conglomerates that will most likely make the decision of whether or not to participate.

If you graduate and begin a job in broadcast journalism in the next year or two, you may find your TV station is in the middle of repackaging. Repackaging, sometimes called repacking, refers to the process planned to follow the incentive auction, where the FCC reorganizes the stations remaining on-air so they take up less space on the UHF (Ultra-High Frequency) band. This frees up space for cell phone providers, while allowing TV and radio stations to continue broadcasting with a slightly smaller area of coverage.

It’s important to note that other nations are already moving in this direction, but their focus has been on radio rather than TV. AM (or medium wave) radio was the first target in Europe. The assumption was that you can still listen to AM “stations” via a mobile device or website. Now, in Norway, FM stations are scheduled to go off-the-air too.

How Does Participating in the Auction Affect Broadcasters?

Choosing to stop broadcasting entirely probably strikes most broadcasters as an awful idea, or a sign of failure. But this is the digital age, and many stations are seeing viewers move online. For small, independent stations with very low on-air viewership, especially those struggling financially, going off the air could be an opportunity. The organization may have to give up its call sign, but it can rename itself and produce packages for its website. The financial rewards from the auction could even allow the organization to improve its quality of production by buying new equipment, investing in social media marketing, etc.

What About Repackaging and Sharing Space?

Stations that apply for repackaging will most likely lose some coverage of their current area. However, the FCC rules specify it won’t allow a station to reduce its population served by more than .5%, so these changes should only result in minor audience losses. Viewers watching on cable will not be affected.

It’s important to remember that even when .5% equals a large number of viewers, all is not lost. Viewers who lose the station’s on-air signal can still watch video on its website, as most broadcasters post at least their most popular stories online and on social media.

What Can You Do?

Think about ways you could use digital strategy as a journalist, and how these might become more important if your future employer chooses to repackage. If you currently have an internship with a TV or radio station, ask if any decisions have been made about applying for the auction. If you learn that your station is considering applying, ask what digital strategies will be used to make the transition smooth for viewers.

Technical Considerations

Aside from the intentional shrinking of the audience, there will likely be technical difficulties during the transition. Part of your digital strategy should include having social media messages ready to go if your station temporarily goes dark (“We are currently experiencing technical difficulties, but will be back on the air soon. In the meantime, watch video from this morning’s newscast here….”). You’ll also need planned responses to people tweeting “I can’t watch your station any more, you jerks!” (“We’re sorry our signal no longer reaches you, but you can still watch our most recent newscasts on our website at….”)

Considerations for All Journalists

Whether you work for a station that repackages or not, a solid digital strategy will help you reach viewers as they spend more time online. This means considering factors such as length of packages, whether you should add more in-depth coverage of a topic online, and how you engage with viewers on social media. When you’ve developed a plan to reach viewers both online and on-air, you’ll be better prepared for a job in broadcast journalism, and if you work for a broadcaster that repackages, you’ll be better able to transition smoothly.

Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

FCC Updates To The Contest Rules Better For Broadcasters, Viewers

FCC logo

On September 17 of this year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) updated its Contest Rule, allowing broadcasters to post contest “rules and regulations” solely online if they want. Adopted in 1976, the Contest Rule previously required broadcasters to show the rules on air (although extremely small print was quite acceptable) for television. Radio broadcasters were forced to have announcers read the rules on air.

An Important Rule, but Historically Problematic

The idea, of course, was to ensure audience members understood the rules of the contest and odds of winning before spending time or money trying to win.

The FCC’s goal to protect consumers was valid, but in practice, the Contest Rule had issues. Radio announcers would state the rules on air but it was never guaranteed that the audience would be able to write all of the rules down or fully comprehend them.

Then there were the TV ads, flashing the rules and regulations in print so small only a mosquito could read it for roughly two seconds. Not only were audience members still uninformed, but broadcasters had to deal with an influx of inquiries from people who didn’t understand the rules.

Most Rule-Reading Has Been Happening Online for Years Anyway

It’s little wonder that once the internet became mainstream in the late nineties, broadcasters started posting rules online, in addition to hurriedly rushing through them on air. For the last decade, anyone interested in reading the legalese—or suffering from insomnia—would probably go straight to the broadcaster’s website for rules about a particular contest.

So What Does This Mean for Broadcasters?

The upshot of the FCC’s decision is an improvement in entertainment quality for audience members, and less time wasted on illegible graphics for TV stations. Broadcasters only have to tell the audience where rules can be found online.

In television ads, rules and regulations often filled much of the lower third of the screen, prime real estate for station logos or related advertising (“Shop at Joe’s Mini-Mart for additional chances to win!”). A website address for contest rules can be delivered in one line, leaving much of the lower third of the screen free for other uses. Radio advertisers can now use almost the entire time slot for the spot (30 seconds, 60 seconds, etc.) to talk about the contest or related products. “Contest rules can be found at www…” can be read in less than five seconds, while auctioneer-style rule announcements used to suck up ten seconds or more, depending on the contest.

How to Make the Most of the New Legislation

It’s still important to make it clear where rules can be found; confusing viewers or rushing through an overly long address will only lead to phone calls and emails that take up the staff’s time, plus viewers might get annoyed or complain on your social media pages. A link on the station’s website is the easiest idea—the URL is probably not excessively long, and consumers can easily Google “WXYZ TV” if they can’t remember it. Make sure the link is very visible on your home page so viewers don’t have to hunt for it.

Posting links on your social media once a day or more is also helpful. Or you can make a page for the contest itself, either posting a link to the rules or adding the rules to the page’s description itself. Contest pages are also good places to answer questions and keep viewers engaged with the contest, so make sure your station’s social media handler keeps up with it. If questions come up frequently that aren’t clearly addressed by the rules (and sometimes legalese is hard for the average person to understand), you can make a FAQ section to address them.

Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

5 Ways Journalism Has Changed Since 2000

Contessa Brewer on camera

In a time where one is connected to the world through an object small enough to fit into the palm of his or her hand; where audience experiences are just as (if not more) important as the information they acquire; and citizens armed with smartphones over firearms are overthrowing governments; it comes as no surprise that broadcast journalism has transformed since the year we once referred to as “Y2K” or the “Millennium Bug” year (a bug more representative of a global computer malfunction that threatened to shut down everything from cash registers to power stations than a roach in the kitchen). Not only did we survive, but our media has completely transformed into a ever-evolving, amalgamated, and fluid entity that is no longer necessarily seen as one primary medium between governments, corporations and “the people” or “audience.” Here’s a list of five of the most noteworthy ways this has happened.

Citizen Journalism/Crowdsourcing

Social networking platforms have completely changed the media landscape for not only the journalists, but also the audience. Having access to the world from your personal account has made way for audience members to become a part of the information being put out into the World Wide Web. This, of course, means that news sources are now not just those who are experts in the topic at hand but regular citizens who may have been at the scene of the news and uploaded footage from their smartphone to Facebook or Twitter. Provided the original footage is identified and vetted, it can be a great source for broadcast journalists and the use of these amateur videos, images and personal accounts are now very commonly used in their news stories.

Social Networking

The use of social networking platforms aren’t just a means for citizen journalists or simply for journalists to use second-hand footage from them, but are now a significant part of journalists’ roles. In an era where news is now instantaneous and ubiquitous, news that is only broadcast during the show’s timeslot is almost obsolete. Journalists are now communicating news around the clock via Tweets or status updates to generate interest in their on-air broadcasts as well as using the responses and feedback to shape their stories. Networks are also making sure to broadcast their shows via numerous social networking platforms during and after on-air segments and simultaneously incorporating social media feeds into their on-air shows. And social media also provides a great means to measure viewer impact.

Multimedia/Multi-talented Journalists

With the Internet, came immediate access to information. And with smart technology, came ubiquitous information that blurred the lines between producer and consumer. Consequently, print media suffered financially and broadcast information became prevalent and multifaceted. This meant that journalists needed to adapt to many new technologies and avenues without an equal amount of staff to help them. More often than not, they are required to pitch stories, go out and shoot them, edit them and present them whilst simultaneously using their social media to generate interest and discussion for them online. So getting in touch with all facets of delivering news stories like camerawork and editing programs will be a huge plus if you’re looking to get hired in broadcast news today.

Podcasts

What was once a broadcast news show tailored for a target audience at a specific time slot in a specific location is now tailored to reach a much wider audience without limitations on time. As previously mentioned, the consumer or audience member has now also become the producer and actor—having the ability to access and produce information in their own time without having to wait for it—as seen with podcasts. Radio news can now be downloaded at the user’s convenience and companies like NPR that have taken advantage of such a portal are now at the forefront of their industry. On that note, what used to be the acronym for National Public Radio is now just known as NPR, due to the idea of “radio” being quite archaic for many people—a clear example of how companies are changing and adapting to the new milieu.

YouTube

In 2011 and early 2012, five out of fifteen months from YouTube’s most searched term of the month was a news related item. In the seven days following footage of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, the twenty most viewed news-related videos on the site all focused on the tragedy and were viewed more than 96 million times. This new kind of television news has made companies like Vice News a force to be reckoned with. What originally began as a niche print magazine (Vice Magazine) then expanded to Vice Media, consisting of divisions including a website, film production company, record label and publishing imprint. Vice News became the company’s current affairs brand and their daily content consists of articles on their website and videos on YouTube. Vice News provides documentaries and original news series but the Vice Media brand has diversified through the platform with multiple channels categorised into subgroups like food (Munchies), music (Noisey), or technology & science (Motherboard). The main Vice YouTube channel alone (not inclusive of their sub-group channels) gets an average of 26 million views per month with an estimated yearly earning of $1.2 million. A true exemplar of heterogeneity, Vice Media are now looking to release a new cable channel in 2016 that’s being programmed in conjunction with A&E Networks called Viceland, as well as a nightly news program called Nightly Vice, expected to debut on HBO later that year.

In summary, it all comes down to these three words—Convergence, Diversification, and Connectivity. News is no longer linear and broadcast technology no longer falls under two categories. For broadcast journalists and the news industry as a whole to flourish in this transformed news landscape, embracing and adopting these three things are imperative.

Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

Online Radio And Millennials: Stats And Trends

Internet radio player

 

Over the past fifteen years, there has been nothing short of a sea change in how different generations listen to radio, While most radio listeners used to find a radio station by just a twist of the tuning knob, new data is shining light on the fact that more and more young listeners are finding radio stations through a click of the mouse or the automatic download of a podcast. According to the State of the News Media 2015 report by the Pew Research Center, more than half of Americans 12 and older tuned in to online radio in the previous month. In the past five years, the percentage of people who listened online has almost doubled, rising from 27% in 2010 to 53% in 2015. Simply put, the face of radio is changing dramatically with the rise of online stations and streaming services, but what does this say about the new generation of listeners?

Online Listening is Evolving, Too

First off, not only are more listeners enjoying radio online, but they’re using a bevy of different devices to listen to it. Smartphones are the leading way to listen— 73% of the online radio audience surveyed said they listened on their phones in 2015, a 13% increase from 2014. Desktops and laptops are still significant in the field, with 61% of respondents saying they listen to online radio via one of those devices. However, listening on traditional computers is still down 6% from 2014, when it was at 67% and it’s likely that mobile listenership will continue to grow.

In terms of what people are listening to online, it is generally a mixture of streaming audio services like Spotify and Tidal, user-controlled radio stations like Pandora, and the vast network of podcasts that cover seemingly every topic imaginable.

Even ‘Drive Time” Listening in Cars is Affected

For years, the “drive time” periods in the morning (usually between 7 and 8 AM) and evening (generally 5-7 PM) when people are driving to and from work have been coveted by advertisers on local and national radio. Trapped in their cars, unable to take their eyes off the road for other activities like reading emails, texting, or watching video, drivers are a captive audience for radio commercials.

But with more cars coming outfitted with online radio capability, more and more drivers are choosing online stations over traditional ones. As of January 2015, 35% of people surveyed said they tuned in to online radio in their cars, a growth of 14% over 2013, when only 21% listened while driving. In 2010, only 6% reported listening to online radio in their vehicles. At this rate, the meaning of “drive time” will likely change as more listeners choose internet radio over local and national radio, or simply load up a podcast they downloaded before getting into their car. And traditional radio stations are definitely getting the memo as prestigious institutions like WNYC starting to rebrand themselves as audio entertainment venues.

How to Reach Online Listeners

In March, a twice.com article noted that online listening skews younger, and is most common among 12- to 54-year-olds. More than three-quarters (77%) of listeners between the ages of 12 and 24 listened online in the past month, vs. 61% of 25- to 54-year-olds, revealing a distinct generational gap in listening habits. Barely more than a quarter (26%) of those older than 55 listened online. And while listeners in the younger age range often lack the financial resources to purchase a car with internet radio, that’s not stopping many listeners from streaming their favorite stations and artists through their car speakers via a cell phone connected to a car audio system, with 55% of those in the 12- to 24-years-old group saying they had done so.

So what are younger listeners listening to on internet radio? News geared to younger viewers, like entertainment and sports, is generally a good bet for online radio, although this can vary somewhat depending on your online station’s format. That doesn’t mean you should ignore hard news, but most Millennials aren’t going to mind if you spend sixty seconds on the latest Hollywood divorce or sports scandal.

Online Radio Advertising

In terms of how advertisers can use this data to maximize their reach with younger listeners, it’s likely that more companies will focus their online radio advertising sales efforts on products that will appeal to a younger demographic, particularly 18- to 34-year-olds during drive time and teenagers after 7 PM. The good news is that Millennials are more opposed to paying for subscriptions than listening to ads: According to data from Strategy Analytics, 89% of internet radio listeners prefer ad-supported online radio to subscription models.

A CRN Research Report about Millennials shows that 75% of the group prefers ads about things that interest them. That’s another benefit of online radio—you don’t have to rely on an Arbitron report to get a vague idea of who listens to what and what products/news items they might enjoy. Take advantage of one of the best benefits of online radio—require your viewers to sign in before listening to music. Most listeners don’t mind signing in for free, ad-supported radio; you can use their listening history and/or answers to questions asked during account sign-up to allow advertisers to better target them. This doesn’t just keep your audience interested—it’s also a huge benefit to your advertisers.

On a closing note, with services like Sirius XM, Pandora, Spotify, and the newly minted Tidal and Apple Music increasingly crowding the online radio market, it remains to be seen how much room for growth the industry can support. In the case of podcasts, it can sometimes seem like there’s no ceiling in sight, with a handful of new podcasts popping up everyday. And podcasts enjoy a particular advantage over both traditional and online radio in that you do not need radio or wireless reception to listen, which you can do anywhere you please. On the flip side, recent NYTimes article about Millennials’ predilection for streaming media argued that when Millennials start a family, they are more likely to return to a traditional cable service. Whether this trend will carry over to internet radio is something we’ll be closely watching.

Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

Local TV Viewership Grows With Alternative Time Slots

local newscasters

According a recent Pew Research report, local news viewership has grown in general, with total on-air ad revenue for affiliates hitting $20 billion in 2014, an increase of 7% over 2013. In particular, alternative time slots, like early morning, mid-day, and 7 pm newscasts are all rising in popularity.

Noon News and Early Evening Newscasts Growing

Noon news and 7 o’clock slots are doing especially well. Recent Nielsen data shows that the 7 pm slot had the most impressive growth among non-traditional time slots for 2014, growing 11% from the previous year. The overall audience has grown 8% since 2010, possibly because stations have realized they benefit from the national news lead-in.

These times also benefit from commuting patterns. In July, an AdWeek article about the trend noted that viewers who work during standard business hours and commute an hour each way often don’t make it home in time for the five or six o’clock news. This makes the 7 pm slot particularly attractive to stations that reach metro suburbs, where a large percentage of those who work outside the home commute into the city. It’s also handy for busy professionals who spend time running errands after work or socializing with friends.

What about prime time shows?

In cities outside of the Eastern time zone, 7 pm newscasts can be problematic. For example, ABC 7, the top-rated news station in Chicago, would have been deluged with angry phone calls if they decided to run the local news instead of top-rated ABC shows like Grey’s Anatomy or Dancing with the Stars at 7. (The national network would have had issues with that, too.)

An Opportunity to Team Up with Other Stations?

Instead, in December of 2014, ABC 7 announced it was starting an hour-long local news broadcast at 7 pm to air on WCIU “The U”, an independent station in Chicago. (Independent, in this case, means the station is not associated with one of the big four national networks; it is the flagship station of the Weigel Broadcasting group.) On January 12 of 2015, the early evening broadcast became the first in its time slot for the Chicago market.

What does that mean for ABC 7? It didn’t just lend its name to WCIU—the newscast is anchored by on-air talent from other ABC 7 (WLS-TV) time slots. A Chicagoland Media article noted that WLS dominated the May 2015 sweeps period for evening newscasts in general, although the 7 pm space wasn’t counted as there were no other stations in the market using it for news. It’s unclear how the 7 o’clock news on WCIU has impacted ABC 7’s ratings, but a recent Chicago Business Journal article notes that WLS has the top-rated 10 pm newscast and that the station generally leads the market.

Other News Opportunities at 7 O’Clock

Another ABC affiliate, WWSB in Tampa, Florida, recently began a 7 pm newscast with an investigative focus. Because prime time doesn’t begin until 8 in the Eastern time zone, WWSB has the opportunity to run a local news program in the time slot. However, it is different from the station’s usual local news because of its focus on in-depth investigations and digging deeper into the issues. Because the show features a live, round-table discussion with local people in the news, it’s more similar to cable news than other local broadcasts. Considering the recent decline of cable news ratings, finding a way to provide in-depth coverage of local, rather than national issues, is a possible opportunity for many local stations.

Early Morning Newscasts Also Growing, But More Slowly

Very early morning newscasts have also continued to grow, but more slowly, gaining only 6% in 2014, after 13% increases in the previous two years, according to the Pew Research report. Noon news, on the other hand, gained viewers in every sweeps period for the same year, while the 7 pm slot had the fastest growth.

It’s important not to put all your eggs into one time-slot basket, especially an alternative one. These spaces may be growing, but they still lag far behind traditional news times. The Pew Research report shows the 11 pm newscast is still the most-watched time, with close to 24 million viewers. That doesn’t mean that adding a 7 pm broadcast is a bad idea, but TV stations should ensure they have engaging local newscasts in all time slots they use.

Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

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Drones And News Gathering: How It’s Changing

Drone with GoPro digital camera

The idea of using drones for news gathering has excited journalists since the unmanned flying machines became popular a few years ago. In 2012 Congress passed the FAA Modernization Act, requiring the FAA to regulate commercial usage of drones. Commercial organizations (that includes TV stations and other for-profit news organizations) have to apply for permission to use drones in their endeavors, and currently the FAA hasn’t granted more than very limited permission to any media organizations.

CNN Aims to be the First

According to a May Business Insider article, CNN partnered with the FAA to “test” and “research” drone usage in news gathering efforts. The news giant volunteered to research using a drone within sight of populated areas approved by the FAA, although the extent of their research is not known.

Why Drones are Important to Journalists

As much as broadcast reporters love to prove their enthusiasm for the job by standing outside in a snowstorm, struggling through a crowd to nail that perfect shot, and enduring less-than-ideal travel conditions, there are some places journalists just can’t go, due to safety or regulatory reasons.

For example, drones can gather bird’s-eye video of forest fires or other natural disasters in areas to dangerous to traverse. They can also take aerial shots of crowds at events that a reporter on the ground couldn’t collect. Additionally, the technology offers opportunities for stations in smaller markets—while large-market stations sometimes have a helicopter for traffic reports and breaking news, smaller stations often can’t afford to rent a helicopter for the occasional story that would benefit an aerial view.

Drones aren’t cheap—a good quality one can cost from several hundred to a few thousand dollars. However, those costs would be small compared to the price of a helicopter—not to mention the cost of hiring a pilot to fly the helicopter and shelling out for insurance. Drones could also be sent to some locations faster than news crews could arrive during heavy traffic.

The Fight for the Right to Fly Drones

A Motherboard article from May questioned whether the FAA even had the right to stop news organizations from using drones. It cited a coalition of media companies, including the New York Times, Associated Press and Washington Post that came together last year to pen a legal brief for the FAA. In this brief, they took the position that the First Amendment prevents the FAA from blocking news reporting—which, in this modern age, could easily include drones. It went on to note that if individuals could use drones, surely the First Amendment-protected press should receive the same permission.

A Way Around the Problem?

Since hobbyists can fly a drone and take video, why can’t they just sell their video to the press? According to the FAA in a Media Use of UAS memo from May, individuals flying drones can give away video they capture, but not take video so they can sell it. Theoretically, a news station could get lucky and receive video from a viewer’s phone for free, but realistically, that isn’t likely to happen.

The FAA was also questioned about whether a person who happened to accidentally take video of a newsworthy event with a drone could later decide to sell it. The same memo goes on to say that if hobbyists don’t intend to capture news for the purpose of selling to a news organization, selling any video they do capture later is probably acceptable. Obviously, it’s difficult to prove what someone intended to do, so there’s a little room for interpretation.

Going Forward

But in the long term, the only real solution is for TV stations to use their own drones. While there are genuine concerns—hobbyists flying drones recently got in the way of firefighters trying to put out California forest fires—there’s no reason that the FAA can’t simply regulate the commercial use of drones for safety. In recent weeks, the FAA has grown increasingly tough on the use of drones, even slapping one aerial photography company with a $1.9 million lawsuit for flying through crowded airspace in New York City and Chicago without permission. In addition, the FAA has just announced new plans to require the registrations of drones for both businesses and hobbyists following the rise in incidents in which civilians’ safety has been compromised by drones.

What can reporters do for now? Not much, other than writing to your Congressperson and familiarizing themselves with the legalities of drone filming. News organizations can apply for permission to use drones, but the FAA has been stingy with granting it to commercial organizations and slow in processing requests.

Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

Cable News’ Decline Provides Opportunities For Local Television

Decline in cable networks lends opportunity for local news networks

A recent Washington Post article highlights the decline in cable news audiences, reporting that since 2009, the median daily audience for the top three cable news channels—CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News—has fallen 19 percent. The decline during prime-time hours is even sharper, at 26 percent.  From 2013 to 2014, prime-time median viewership dropped eight percent.

Reasons Cable is Falling Behind

There’s no question the trend toward non-television sources of news, including social media and online sources, has affected TV news viewership in general.

However, according to a Pew Research Center State of the Media report from earlier this year,  local television viewership increased slightly overall in 2014, with a two percent gain in morning news and a three percent gain in early evening news viewership.

Local news also benefited from a rise in ad revenue, with its share reaching $19.7 billion last year. Meanwhile network news also experienced growth in 2014, with a two percent increase in average viewership over 2013.

So Why is Cable Struggling While Local and Network News Continue to Grow?

While consumers are generally getting more news from social media and other online sources, local and network have continued to gain, if at a more leisurely pace than ten years ago. Why aren’t local and network newscasts suffering as much from the rise of digital media?

It isn’t just because viewers are watching more news on their phones than on TV screens. The Washington Post article points out that cable’s problem may be a side effect of the digital revolution. Viewers are watching more than just news online. They’re streaming everything from soap operas to movies to sitcoms, and as a result some are canceling their cable subscriptions.

A consumer who browses the day’s news stories on her phone while riding the bus home from work might still turn on the TV to watch news when she arrives home, but if she canceled her cable last month, she’s going to be watching national and local news stories on a local affiliate.

Cable News Tries to Attract and Retain Viewers

Some of the programming cable networks produce to keep viewers interested may have the opposite effect. The Washington Post article details how CNN’s Jeff Zucker planned to attract and retain viewers by focusing on a single story or issue for hours, sometimes even days. While this certainly provides an in-depth look at the topic, it can also bore today’s viewer, who might read five news articles about five different topics on his phone while CNN is still on the same subject.

It is possible that local stations can gain a stronger foothold over cable by spending slightly more time on some of the bigger stories, and not just in sweeps month. We’ve all seen how stations run longer pieces during those times, and television is a fast-paced medium; no one wants to bore viewers by repeating what is often limited information about a current piece of news.

Certainly, you wouldn’t want your local TV station to spend the entire A block dissecting the finer points of the city’s new parking ordinance. But running slightly longer, well-reported packages about a few of the biggest news items can help your station gain and maintain viewers who have turned away from cable but still enjoy more involved reporting on a story.

Local stations can also use podcasts to provide a broader view on a topic. This has the advantage of giving viewers the option of spending more time on a story that interests them; with cable news, you have the option of watching whatever that network wants to talk about for an hour, whether it interests you or not.

News Fatigue: Another Problem for Cable?

Spending so much time on one story may be another reason for the downfall of cable. As any reporter who has ever struggled to make a story sound different during the five, six and ten o’clock newscasts with no additional information knows, big stories often have no new developments for hours, sometimes days. Local stations love to lead with “updates” about stories reported earlier or “new developments,” but sometimes there really aren’t any.

Cable networks have the same problem, except that they have to make repeat the same information over and over for hours instead of in a thirty-second package. Usually, they handle this by bringing on a panel of experts to discuss the situation. If they’re lucky, the experts get into a big argument the network can call “controversial” when posting the video to its website. If they’re not lucky, the experts simply talk in professional jargon or go off on tangents about things that are neither interesting nor relevant.

Another Opportunity for Local Television?

Many viewers have grown tired of dueling political experts and the repetition of a small number of facts on cable news. Some people simply don’t have time in their busy schedules to watch CNN pick apart the latest disaster for six hours straight. This may be another reason viewers spend more time watching local and national news: the most pertinent information is explained briefly before the newscast moves on to its next story.

Local stations have the opportunity to provide more detailed coverage of certain stories in a way that’s more relevant to viewers than cable news’ coverage by focusing on the local angle of national stories.

Local and National News in One Place

Fox News may be able to talk about Donald Trump’s latest viral comment for hours on end, but only a local station can give viewers an in-depth look at community issues, conduct person-on-the-street interviews about national topics, then provide a national news program.

Local TV stations can use this advantage by occasionally running sweeps-length, in-depth packages about local issues outside of sweeps month. Affiliates also have more opportunities to interact with younger viewers on social media.

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