Industry Trends

Top 12 Most Influential Journalists Of Today

Most influential journalists in the industry today

The basis of journalism as the fourth estate and a watchdog for corruption and injustice brings an unequivocal responsibility for journalists to be equally skilled and hard-working as they are virtuous and ethical. However, it could be argued that the digital world we live in today, with its instantaneous access to information, click-bait culture and citizen journalism, has seriously impeded the prevalence of quality journalists.

Despite this, journalists who showcase outstanding work and are considered as highly influential risk-takers in today’s media still exist. Here is a list of 12 noteworthy names all journalism students should know of right now (if not already):

Lester Holt

Lester Holt  (Full name: Lester Don Holt, Jr) is an American broadcast journalist who has served as anchor of NBC Nightly News since 2015 and also serves as anchor for Dateline NBC. He was the first Black person to solo anchor a weekday network nightly newscast. He has been with the NBC news network since 2000 and prior to that was with CBS News for 19 years. Known throughout pop culture, Holt has made cameo appearances in The Fugitive (1993), Primal Fear (1996), episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and more. 

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Fredricka Whitfield

Fredricka Whitfield is an anchor for CNN/U.S. She is based in the network’s world headquarters in Atlanta and anchors the weekend edition of CNN Newsroom. With an award-winning broadcast career that spans more than 30 years, Whitfield’s reporting ranges from covering stories from the Cuban-Haitian refugee crisis in the 90s, to the 2000 Bush-Gore presidential race and recount, the Kosovo War refugee crisis, the Afghanistan War and start of second Iraq War, the 2008 Inauguration of President Barack Obama, the Atlanta, Beijing and London Olympic Games, the 50th anniversary of Voting Rights Act in Selma Alabama, the 2016 Presidential primary races and Democratic National Convention. Breaking news coverage includes the recent Virginia Beach, Va. municipal building mass shooting. Prior to joining CNN in 2002, Whitfield was a correspondent for NBC News and served as an Atlanta-based correspondent for NBC Nightly News, The Today Show and Dateline NBC.

In 2000 she earned an Emmy award nomination for long form storytelling, while other notable awards include the 2002 Howard University School of Communications Alumna of the year, 2004 Alfred I. DuPont Award winning team for CNN’s coverage of the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia, 2005 George Peabody award for the network’s live coverage of Hurricane Katrina and aftermath, 2005 Ebony award for Outstanding Women in Marketing and Communications, 2007 Emmy award for outstanding live coverage of a breaking news story long form, 2008 NAMD Communicator of the year, 2008 Howard University postgraduate achievement in the field of Journalism, and 2009 NYABJ long form feature.

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Christiane Amanpour

Christiane Amanpour

Amanpour a British-Iranian journalist and television host. She is the Chief International Anchor for CNN and host of CNN International’s nightly interview program Amanpour. She is also the host of Amanpour & Company on PBS. She was previously the global affairs anchor for ABC News in the United States. In 2015, According to PR firm, Burson-Marstellar, she was one of the journalists who is most followed by world leaders on Twitter. Amanpour’s journalistic career spans three decades, during which she’s interviewed Hosni Mubarak (she was the only journalist to do so) and Muammar Ghadafi during the Arab Spring. For her outstanding reporting, she has won every major broadcast award, including nine News and Documentary Emmys, an inaugural Television Academy Award, three DuPont-Columbia Awards and two George Polk Awards. She also received the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism in 2011 as well as a Giants in Broadcasting award in the same year. Amanpour is a member of the board of directors of the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Women’s Media Foundation and also the Center for Public Integrity.

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Hu Shuli

Hu Shuli

Hu Shuli is a Chinese journalist who is currently the editor-in-chief of media group, Caixin Media in which she founded in 2009. Shuli had also been chief reporter and international editor of China Business Times before founding Caijing, a business and finance magazine which she was also editor-in-chief of for 11 years. Considered one of the most respected reporters in such a media-restrained country, she was listed as the 87th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2011 – the same year she was listed among the Top 100 Influential People by Time magazine. Known for her bold prowess in the industry and her investigative work on fraud and corruption, she’s currently a board member of the International Women’s Media Foundation. She also sits on the Reuters Editorial Advisory Board as well as having a regional advisory role in the International Center for Journalists. In 2017, Hu was named one of the World’s Greatest Leaders by Fortune.

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Bob Woodward

Bob Woodward

Robert Upshur “Bob” Woodward is an American investigative journalist who is undoubtedly one of the most celebrated journalists of this century after having exposed the Watergate scandal during President Nixon’s time in office. He covered much of the news reporting on the scandal with colleague Carl Bernstein whilst working as an investigative reporter at the Washington Post in 1972. He is currently the associate editor of the Post. Woodward has since written and released 16 books – all of which have been national best-sellers; 12 of them being No.1 national non-fiction best-sellers. Due to his and Bernstein’s reporting on Watergate, the Post won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1972 and his contributions towards coverage on the 9/11 attacks also won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2002. He has otherwise received nearly every other major journalism award in America.

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Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper, is an American journalist who currently hosts his own news program, Anderson Cooper 360. He has been hosting the show since 2003 after having been an ABC News correspondent in 1995 and then an anchor on CNN a few years later. The Anderson Cooper 360 news program propelled the host in becoming a household name after his coverage on the war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina. In addition to his duties at CNN, Cooper serves as a correspondent for 60 Minutes on CBS. Since 1993 where he won a Bronze Telly Award for his coverage of famine in Somalia, Cooper has continuously won numerous awards for his work. Some of these include four Emmy Awards (he was nominated on five other occasions), a Peabody Award and a National Headliner Award.

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Louis Theroux

Louis Theroux

Louis Sebastian Theroux is a British journalist and documentary filmmaker with the BBC. Most notable for his exploration of marginal and off-beat cultural subjects in his show Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends and celebrities’ daily lives in When Louis Met…, the famous broadcaster is one of television’s most recognizable documentarians. His career began as a writer before he transitioned to television as a correspondent for Michael Moore’s satirical news program, TV Nation. The famously unassuming reporter is known for his ability to get his subjects – most of whom live extremely exclusive lives – to open up easily with the persona of merely a dispassionate observer. He has been nominated for an Emmy Award for his work on TV Nation, as well as having won two BAFTA Awards (nominated three times) and a Royal Television Society Award (nominated twice) for When Louis Met… and Weird Weekends.

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Eugene Scott

Eugene Scott is currently a reporter for The Washington Post. He focuses on identity politics for The Fix. He was previously a fellow at the Georgetown University Institute of Politics. Prior to joining the Post, he was a breaking news reporter at CNN Politics. While at CNN Politics, he participated in the “The First Time I Realized I Was Black” series, which sparked more public discourse on skin color impacting how a person is treated.

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Shereen Bhan

Shereen Bhan

Bhan is an Indian reporter who produces and anchors numerous flagship shows like India Business Hour, The Nation’s Business, Young Turks and Power Turks. She is also the Delhi Bureau Chief and Executive Head of CNBC-TV18 in India. Her effortless delivery of news with a cheerful and friendly disposition has made her a national favourite and as such, has won several awards. Some of these include the FICCI Woman Of The Year Award in 2005 and she was also named as one of the Young Global Leaders of 2009 at the World Economic Forum.

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Yamiche Alcindor

 

LBJ Library photo by Jay Godwin

Yamiche Alcindor is an American journalist who is the White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour and a political contributor to NBC News and MSNBC. She has previously worked as a reporter for USA Today and The New York Times. Alcindor writes mainly about politics and social issues.In 2016, she was nominated for a Shorty Award in the Journalist category. The next year, Alcindor won an award in a tribute to journalist Gwen Ifill, who had died in November 2016, at the Syracuse University’s Toner Prize ceremony. Alcindor was number 13 on the 2017 edition of “The Root 100”, an annual list by magazine The Root of the most influential African Americans between the ages of 25 and 45. In January 2018, she was named White House correspondent of the PBS NewsHour, as a replacement for John Yang. In this position, Alcindor has covered the Trump presidency and during the 2020 presidential election season, she was one of the moderators of the sixth Democratic debate.

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Robin Roberts

Robin Roberts is an American television broadcaster. Roberts is the anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America.  She began her career began her  1983 as a sports anchor and reporter for WDAM-TV and joined joined ESPN as a sportscaster in February 1990, where she remained until 2005. In the fall of 2005, Roberts anchored a series of emotional reports from her hometown after it became devastated by Hurricane Katrina. On February 22, 2009, Roberts hosted the Academy Awards pre-show for ABC, and did so again in 2011. Roberts appeared as a guest star on Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana, appearing in season 4, episode 10, “Can You See the Real Me?” and she was later inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012, highlighting her contributions to and impact on the game of women’s basketball. Some additional highlights of Roberts’ career include her interview President Barack Obama for Good Morning America on May 9, 2012, winning the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism. and being inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame (2016).

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If you’re inspired by these influential journalists and interested in learning more about the broadcast industry, check out NYFA’s broadcast journalism school to get the most hands-on, intensive training in the world.

Differences Between TV and Radio/Podcast Journalism

With the ubiquity of digital technologies and the unrelenting demand for news around the clock, broadcast journalists have now become the quintessential multitaskers of the 21st century media. Increasing your chances of getting employed in the world of broadcast journalism requires a skillset beyond just being able to gather, collate, and  deliver information using a teleprompter; it also requires sound knowledge behind the camera, like shooting, editing, and various production requirements for your particular medium — new media, print, television, podcasts, you name it.

Becoming well-versed on an array of platforms gives you a larger pool of choices when deciding which avenue to pursue, as well as impressing a larger number of employers. With that in mind, here are some helpful tips on the differences between journalism in television and radio/podcasts.

Writing and Editing

In television, what the audience sees is critical to the information they process and how they interpret it. For that reason, everything on television is bigger, flashier, and significantly less focused on words. Unlike the radio or podcast format, where the responsibility to visualize the story lies in the audience’s imagination, multimedia journalists and reporters on television deliver a “voice-over” serving as an accompaniment to videos or images — basically acting as a caption to what is seen.

The practice of editing video before writing the text is rarely followed in a television newsroom, though reporters do keep the video in mind when writing, editing the video to then fit the words. What’s most important is to always keep the words simple, short, and succinct, so as not to overwhelm the audience with too much  information at once.

Using simple vocabulary helps engage as well as reach a larger audience. This doesn’t differ much from radio news, although an emphasis on descriptive words and paying particular attention to pronunciation is a lot more critical for radio listeners than it is for TV viewers.

Additionally, since radio listeners are usually engaged in other activities while listening, scripts for radio newscasters usually use a “conversational” style to keep the listener’s attention.  

Formats

Sequencing formats and the stacking of a show on television also differs from radio and podcast news. For instance, a viral video may become the opening story on television, but without the power of visuals, radio and podcasts must prioritize the most attention-grabbing stories using only words, resulting in the viral video story being pushed further back in the show once the listener’s already invested.  

Additionally, weather forecasts and traffic conditions are usually later in the program on television — unless extreme weather conditions or massive traffic jams are the top stories of the day. TV news programs communicate meteorological findings and forecasts with maps and other graphics, many of which depend on chroma key effects.

Contrastingly, 90 percent of car commuters listen to radio, increasing the importance of a traffic reports exponentially for radio news and moving it to the top of the program.

Staff

Although having the advantage of video and images in relaying to audiences what  words sometimes cannot, television broadcasting requires many more people and resources to cover a story.

A field reporter, for example, is ideally accompanied by a camera operator — though it’s even better for your career options if you’re able to act as your own producer, editor, and talent. Multimedia journalists (MMJs) are in high demand.

Radio reporters and podcasters, however, can attend interviews and go on location with nothing but a handheld recording device. This makes it easier to retrieve anecdotes and interview audio to support a story, as preparation and organisation is a lot less complicated. Plus, interviewees are sometimes more likely to agree to an interview off-camera.

With all this considered, it really comes down to personal preference when deciding which medium to pursue as a budding broadcast journalist. Just remember to stay vigilant, be resourceful, and always be curious!

What is your favorite medium to keeping up with the news? Let us know in the comments below! And learn more about Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy.

Trends in Journalism to Watch Out for in 2018

Innovations, whether you’re talking about television or the internet, have continued to change how the average person discovers news. And no matter where you look, technology still doesn’t show signs of slowing down. Here are the four biggest journalism trends this year that we consider to be at the top of the list:

Offline But Not Disconnected


There’s no denying the power the internet has when it comes to keeping people informed and connected. In this day and age, it’s far more likely to learn about a current event via a WiFi-connected mobile device such as a tablet or smartphone. Tech companies everywhere are enjoying the benefit of features such as push notifications that keep their readers engaged and wary of their latest information.

But what about when they can’t count on their internet connection? Sooner or later, people find themselves in an area or building where Wi-Fi either doesn’t work or runs too slow. According to The Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report 2017, apps are making a comeback, which means we are seeing news organizations putting more focus on their offline content in order to keep consumers with unreliable internet happy.

Podcasts Continue Their Rise

Journalists and media companies know full well that text and video alone are not enough these days. Many consumers find themselves preferring content that they don’t have to read or see — all you need is a pair of ears. Much like the times of old when radios were the go-to place for news, plenty of folks today want audio news sources they can listen to while driving, working, etc.

In another survey done by Reuters Institute involving 194 leading editors, digital leaders, and CEOs, it was discovered that 58 percent of publishers plan to focus more on podcasts. The same amount will also put more effort into creating content for voice activated speakers.

More Focus on Social Media, but not Everywhere

Even a decade ago when MySpace ruled the social networking world, few could have predicted the power of social media sites in the hands of journalists. More people than ever —  especially in U.S. — prefer taking to Twitter and Facebook to get their news for the day. According to the Reuters Institute survey, the number of American that prefer social media for news has doubled since 2013.

However, trends aren’t quite going the same way elsewhere. Across all the countries surveyed, only about a third of people between the ages of 18 and 24 have social media as #1 on their list. While growth has ceased in the United Kingdom, places like Italy, Brazil, Australia and Portugal are actually seeing a decline.

A Push for Artificial Intelligence

When most people think about artificial intelligence (AI) they imagine robots that can help us with our daily chores before inevitably turning against us once Skynet becomes self-aware. While not as exciting as our favorite sci-fi movies, the use of artificial intelligence in the journalism industry is expected to make a big impact soon. This is why 72 percent of of the top digital leaders and editors plan to start experimenting with AI.

Why would journalists have need for artificial intelligence? According to surveys, 59 percent think AI can improve content recommendations while also detecting intentional media bias. Other uses include using AI. to help automate workflows, improve commercial optimisation, and help journalists find stories.

What are your predictions for the next biggest trends in journalism? Let us know in the comments below, and learn more about broadcast journalism at New York Film Academy.

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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.

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

presidential

 

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

peoplephones

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

Woman setting up a camera

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.

Dealing With Viewer Criticism In The Social Media Age

fingers pointing at person crying

Working in broadcast journalism can be an engaging and exciting job, but every job has its drawbacks. In the news business, there’s always a steady stream of criticism from viewers, from hairdos to the stories the station covers. The popularity of social media has made it even easier for the audience to express its displeasure to the news organization—and the world at large.

If you’re on-air, you’ll likely receive everything from marriage proposals to criticism of your clothes to complaints about your interviewing style. Even if you’re not on-air, the critics won’t completely forget about you. Amateur photographers love to complain about “lousy video quality,” even if they have no idea of the circumstances or difficulties involved in capturing a particular shot. Everyone loves to tell the news director or assignments editor what stories to cover—or not. (How dare you fail to send a camera crew to cover a viewer’s cat’s wedding!)

Fifteen or twenty years ago, viewer complaints (valid or not), would have been delivered by phone, by snail mail, or maybe by email. But today, they show up on a station’s social media pages where hundreds or thousands of other followers can see them. Have a page for yourself, as a news anchor or reporter? People will post complaints there, too.

How Do I Make It Stop?

You can certainly delete any comments that are obscene, profane, threatening, hate speech, etc. If you had time, you could just go ahead and delete all negative comments, but that would be a bad move from a PR standpoint. Viewers would then take to their personal page to tell their friends that your TV station’s management doesn’t care what their viewers think, can’t take a healthy debate, and deletes critical comments in an effort to censor free speech. Even people who don’t see those posts might notice and find it odd if there were never any negative comments on a broadcaster’s page.

Some outlets are even eliminating Comments sections, seeing that they can get hijacked and turned into forums for racist and sexist rants. Large stations and networks actively curate their online and digital platforms. Elsewhere, it can sometimes become an embarrassing free-for-all.

Handling Social Media Comments in a Professional Manner

There is no requirement that you respond to every comment on the station’s page, your page, or on a link to a story you covered. You can choose to ignore some of the negativity, and that’s definitely a better idea than shooting back an angry reply. However, if you have a large number of similar negative comments, someone at the station should address these.

Most broadcasters have a position to handle the station’s social media presence. This person will usually be on top of comments about each story, and about the station in general. Usually reporters and anchors are not expected to spend all day defending their stories on the station’s page.

However, most on-air personalities are expected to have their own social media presence as part of the station or network’s social media strategy. Some stations will create profiles for anchors and reporters; smaller stations sometimes expect the talent to handle that themselves. In either case, on-air personalities are expected to check in at least a couple times a day, and make some effort to respond to legitimate questions and concerns. (In larger stations with more viewers and comments, the station may assign someone to help the anchor or reporter.)

How Do I Respond? What Should I Ignore?

First, remember that you represent your employer on social media—even on your personal accounts that are separate from your professional profiles. If someone tracks down your personal profile despite your best efforts to hide it, you still have to respond in a professional way. Usually this means a polite reply directing the person back to your professional profile.

You can manage all of your professional accounts with a social media management program like Hootsuite. This allows you to monitor all your account activity in one place—Facebook posts, Tweets, Pins, Instagram pics, and whatever other platform you use. As time allows, you should try to respond to comments and questions—both negative and positive—from viewers. Engaging with people on social media helps build rapport and keep people interested in watching your news reports.

If you get a lot of questions, remember that you don’t have to respond to every person individually. Frequently, twenty people will ask the same question—all you have to do is answer once. Start by noting that you appreciate all the questions about X, and the answer is Y, etc.

So What Do I Do When People Hate My Story? What If They Hate Me?

To begin, figure out what the problem is, and whether there is any merit to the complaint. If viewers don’t like your new haircut or the outfit you wore today, you can probably ignore them. Your hair is going to take a while to grow back and there’s not much you can do in the meantime; you’re not going to wear the same outfit two days in a row, so the viewers can look at something else tomorrow.

If you see a lot of negative comments about a story, figure out what bothers most of the viewers. Sometimes rude comments are really about the subject of the story and not the reporter or the station (although viewers have been known to get confused, or blame the station for publicizing someone they don’t like). However, if there is a specific concern about the newsworthiness or fairness of a story, that’s something you should consider addressing, especially if you have a lot of comments about it. The most common complaints about news coverage are “This isn’t news,” and “This is unfair to the subject/paints someone in a bad light/this is slander.”

Newsworthiness is a subjective thing; so long as you didn’t fail to cover another really big story, there is nothing wrong with running a human-interest piece, especially on a slow news day. Plus small stations sometimes don’t have enough hard news to fill a broadcast—but you can’t tell the audience that! Instead, respond with something like this: “We work hard to cover all the news in our area, and tonight we brought you stories about the City Council, the new zoning law, and the three-car pileup on Main Street. When we have time, we also like to report on the local person who does something noteworthy or interesting, and that’s why we covered John Doe’s yarn sculpture. Thanks for your feedback, and please let us know if you hear of any news you think we should cover.”

If someone complains that a story was unfair, the best defense is to point out all the ways in which you showed both sides of the story. For example, “Here at XYZZ, we strive to report news impartially. That’s why we included comments from both Council members in favor of the proposal and those against the proposal. We showed both sides explaining their positions so the viewers could make up their own minds.”

Learn the skills you need to succeed as a game designer at the Game Design School 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.
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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.

Choosing A Broadcast Journalism Job: Is An On-Air Career Right For You?

Faith Abubey interviewing a naval officer

While many people choose a broadcast journalism major because they aspire to be news anchors, there are many positions in the field, and all have their pros and cons.

But I Already Know I Want to Be An Anchor!

That’s great, and on-air jobs can be exciting. As a reporter (generally the starting position for inexperienced on-air journalists—no one starts at the anchor’s desk unless a relative owns the station), you have the opportunity to pursue a variety of interesting stories every day. You’ll get to interview people from all walks of life, and you may even bring the public’s attention to an important issue in the community. You get to learn new things every day, and share your knowledge with others.

Unfortunately, a lot of journalism students find on-air positions attractive, and there is tremendous competition for first-time reporter jobs. While having a good resume and audition video is helpful, other recent grads from all over the country will also have impressive experience and audition footage.

There are things you can do to improve your odds of getting the job you want, but some factors are beyond your control. When it comes to on-air roles, hiring managers will make decisions based not only on your experience, but also on your looks, voice, and personality. Sometimes they round-file your application because you look too much like another reporter they already have, because your voice has an inflection they don’t like, or because they think you’re too bubbly, or too flat, or too deadpan…the list goes on. The bottom line is that many graduates find they have to take an off-air job just to get a foot in the door at a TV or radio station. Although there is no guarantee you’ll be promoted to an on-air role, any experience in the industry is better than being unemployed or working in a fast food restaurant, and it can help you make contacts in the business.

If You Do Get That On-Air Job

Sometimes new grads think they want a job in front of the camera, only to get one and discover it’s not for them. Here are some things you should know before deciding this position is right for you:

  • Contracts can place all sorts of restrictions on what you can do—not just at work, but also in your personal life. They often specify that you can’t make major changes to your appearance (like a new hair color or a tattoo that would be visible on camera) without a supervisor’s permission. There are often clauses that say you can be terminated if you do something to embarrass the station—getting arrested, embarrassing pictures on social media, etc.
  • People will recognize you as “that TV reporter” everywhere you go, whether you’re having a good day or a bad day. You will have to be nice and polite to those people at all times—even if you’re having a lousy day and they’re pestering you about a story you covered two months ago and don’t remember. You will have to nod and smile if someone wants to tell you about seeing a UFO, until you can find a polite way to excuse yourself from the conversation.
  • Most of us have had a bad day and snapped at someone when we didn’t mean to. But if you’re an on-air personality who has a regrettable moment and says something rude in public, there’s a good chance someone will post it on social media. You won’t just be that anonymous jerk in line at the grocery store who snapped at a cashier—you’ll be that rude, snooty, stuck-up TV reporter who told off a cashier.
  • Despite the personal sacrifices you’ll have to make to keep your job, you won’t be well-paid. The median salary for an entry-level TV reporter is $35,000, with some making as little as $22,000. (Generally stations in smaller markets pay less, but jobs in smaller markets are slightly easier to obtain.) Reporter salaries do get higher as you gain experience, and/or work your way up to a bigger market (although your cost of living may also go up if you move to a bigger city).

Preparing For An On-Air Career

The list above isn’t meant to discourage anyone from pursuing a role on-air. All jobs have downsides, and many people find careers in front of the camera very rewarding. If you think it’s right for you, here are some suggestions:

  • Spend as much time as possible in front of the camera at your campus TV station, beyond what you’re required to do for class. This will help you build a good audition reel while improving your skills.
  • Ask teachers and other student-journalists who have spent a lot of time in front of the camera for constructive criticism.
  • You will probably be required to produce packages for some of your classes. When you get them back, don’t just look at the grade—read your professor’s suggestions and try to implement them. Often these will help you with things hiring managers look for—reading at an appropriate pace, enunciating clearly, not fidgeting, appearing comfortable in front of a camera, and more.
  • If possible, try to get an internship or part-time job at a local television or radio station. While your campus station is a great place to learn, working at a local affiliate can give you real-world experience. Not only will this look good on your resume, but you’ll also have the opportunity to watch the reporters and anchors, and learn how they handle various situations on-air.

I’m Not Sure I Want To Be On-Air

If you’re not sure being in front of the camera is for you, there are many other broadcast journalism careers to consider. Producers help reporters with newsgathering, generate new story ideas, “stack the show” by deciding what packages go where in a broadcast, and sometimes even interview people—all without ever being on-air. TV stations also need a variety of technical people to run studio cameras, act as photographers in the field, edit packages, control the audio during live broadcasts, produce graphics, and direct the show.

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

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.

Image Source

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.
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2016 Elections And TV’s Need For A Millennial Social Media Strategy

Donald Trump speaking at a presidential rally

According to a 2015 Pew Research report, almost two-thirds of Millennials (61%) view news on Facebook, more than any other news source. Only 37% say they acquire news from local TV. By contrast, Baby Boomers consume news from local television at almost the same rate that Millennials get news from Facebook (60%) and Gen Xers fall in the middle, with 51% getting political news from Facebook and 46% from local TV.

A Wide Array of Political News on Social Media Keeps Millennials Engaged

Not only are Millennials more reliant on Facebook and other social media sites for political news, they also see it throughout the day at high rates, as opposed to a few times a day on a local news affiliate. Twenty-four percent of the age group said at least half the posts in their feeds were related to politics. (To be fair, it’s unclear whether all those posts are from legitimate news sources. It is possible users were counting memes of Donald Trump jack-o-lanterns, shares from The Onion, and other humorous content about politicians.)

The report goes on to show that Millennials are less aware of broadcast news sources like MSNBC and NPR, and more aware of online sources  like Buzzfeed and Google News.

Where Does This Leave Local Television for the 2016 Election Cycle?

Is this cause for concern for TV stations that rely heavily on political ad spending in election years? Not necessarily. In April, Carl Salas of Moody’s told The Los Angeles Times he predicts 2016 will see a 20% increase in spending over the 2014 mid-term election spending of $2.9 billion. He added that he thought about two-thirds of that money would go to television.

Other political ad spending analysts agree. In July, The Cook Political Report predicated total TV ad spending for 2016 would hit $4.4 billion.

That’s not just going to national networks, either—a July Washington Post article pointed out that older viewers are more likely to vote. Research firm BIA/Kelsey’s senior vice president Mark Fratrik is quoted as saying that local news viewers tend to be voters—all the more reason for political spenders to buy time on both local and national TV.

Should TV Stations Focus on Older Viewers?

Since Gen Xers and especially Baby Boomers are more likely to both watch local news and get political news from television, it might appear that the simple solution is to focus on older viewers when planning political coverage for the 2016 year.

This strategy isn’t difficult to implement. While you should cover all the issues of both local and national news, you can also run special reports on issues that are primarily of interest to older viewers—a package detailing where candidates stand on Social Security, for example.

That doesn’t mean you should abandon hope of reaching Millennials. They may be less likely to vote, but the 18-34 age demographic is still important to advertisers, as they’re less brand loyal and more likely to try new products. And since they’re more active on social media in terms of their news consumption, broadcast journalists are increasingly using social media itself to measure the impact of their reports.

How to Reach Millennials with Political News

Facebook and other social networks are the ideal places to reach Millennial news consumers. If you can engage with younger viewers on social media, they’re more likely to watch your station when they do turn on the TV for news. And try experimenting with newer streaming video social media networks like Meerkat and Periscope which can add an extra dimension to a news story, allowing journalists to provide behind-the-scenes commentary that wouldn’t fit on TV. You can also earn ad revenue from pre-roll ads when people view videos of political news online, and even more revenue if they visit your website.

While political issues that affect older Americans may be a good idea for special reports, your social media posts should focus on issues of interest to younger consumers, like unemployment rates and student loan debts. Did a political candidate just announce he or she has a plan to reduce higher education costs? Get the package from your national network and retweet it, asking followers what they think. This kind of engagement will help you earn ad revenue online thanks to younger viewers, while still collecting on-air ad dollars for the 2016 election cycle.

Institutions like NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism program are training the next generation of multimedia journalists (MMJs). Students learn how to become content creators, with an eye towards cross-platform distribution. Usually a local news story shouldn’t be posted “as is” on social media. Instead, it needs to be crafted to meet the expectations and needs of a different audience. One reason why so-called “explainers” have become popular is that they can be viewed on a smartphone or a similar device minus any sound. That’s exactly what Now This did recently with a powerful Halloween-themed story.