Broadcast journalism

Broadcast journalism

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

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

Broadcast "stories" (articles) can be written in "packages", "readers", "voice overs", and "sound on tape".

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Television (TV) news is considered by many to be the most influential medium for journalism. For most of the American public, local and national TV newscasts are the primary news sources. Not only the numbers of viewers, but the effect on each viewer is considered more persuasive, as described by Marshall McLuhan ("the medium is the message" in his book "Understanding Media"). Television is dominated by attractive visuals (including beauty, action, and shock), with short sound bites and fast "cuts" (changes of camera view). Television journalism viewership has become fragmented, with all-news cable channels such as CNN starting in 1980 and Fox News Channel and MSNBC in the 1990s.

Local Television

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

United States stations typically broadcast local news 3 or 4 times a day: around 5 or 6 am, noon, 5 or 6 pm (the most-watched), and 10 or 11 at night. Most of their nightly local newscasts are 30 minutes and include sports and weather. Anchors are shown sitting at a desk in a studio. They read teleprompters. Reporters frequently tell their stories in live shots outside the studio where the news is occurring. Morning shows include more "soft" news and feature pieces, while the evening news emphasizes "hard" news.

News jobs

Anchors (formerly "anchormen") serve as masters of ceremonies and are usually shown facing the camera in a studio while reading unseen teleprompters. They are often in pairs (co-anchors) side by side, often alternating their reading. Meteorologists describe and forecast weather and show "graphics" (maps, charts, and pictures). Any of those people can become the most recognizable faces of a station. Reporters research and write the stories and sometimes edit them into a package. Reporters are usually accompanied by a videographer at the scenes of the news. The latter holds the camera. That person or assistants manage the audio and lighting. They are in charge of setting up live shots and might edit, too. The producer might choose, research, and write stories, as well as deciding the timing and arrangement of the newscast. An associate producer, if any, might specialize in elements of the show such as graphics.

Production jobs

A newscast director is in charge of show preparation, including assigning camera and talent (cast) positions on the set, as well as selecting the camera shots and other elements (recorded and live). The technical director operates the video switcher which controls and mixes all the elements of the show. At smaller stations, the director and technical director are the same person.A graphics person operates a character generator that produces the name keys (on-screen titles) and full-page graphics. The audio technician operates the audio board. The technician is in charge of the microphones, music, and audio tape. Often, production assistants operate the teleprompters and cameras, and serve as lighting and rigging technicians ("grips").

On-line convergence

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


*cite book
last = DeFleur
first = Melvin
authorlink =
year = 2002
title = Understanding Mass Communication
publisher = Houghton Mifflin Company
location = New York
id = ISBN 0-618-12857-3

*cite book
last = Associated Press
first =
authorlink =
year = 2001
title = Broadcast News Handbook: A Manual of Techniques and Practices
publisher = McGraw-Hill
location = New York
id = ISBN 0-7136-3882

*cite book
last = Brooks
first = Brian
authorlink =
year = 2004
title = Telling the Story: The Convergence of Print, Broadcast and Online Media
publisher = Bedford, St. Martin's Press
location = Boston
id = ISBN 0-312-40906-0

*cite book
last = McLuhan
first = Marshall
authorlink =
year = 1964
title =
publisher = The MIT Press (also New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964; Critical edition, Gingko Press, 2003)
location = Cambridge, Massachusetts
id = ISBN-10 0-26263159-8, ISBN-13 978-0-26263159-4

* [ Cyber College - Television Production]
* [ Portal to Nielsen Media DMA ranks 2007-2008]
* [ Atmospheric Science Data Center - Meteorologist]

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