multimedia journalists

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.

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.