Published On: Wed, Jan 15th, 2020

The Basics of Radio Journalism

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Understanding how to put together a radio news bulletin, some of the most experienced radio news journalists will argue, can always best be learned in a radio station where all the news staff become intimately acquainted and experienced themselves with all of the roles involved. Thus argue especially those who have learned their trade that way and have gone on to develop those skills, hands-on elsewhere in the industry.

The Effects of the Size of the Market on Specialisation

Radio stations that broadcast to a smaller market, either in terms of audience or geographical coverage, and the newsrooms within those stations could be seen in broadcasting terms as the ‘local’ newspaper. More regional and national stations by the very nature of the revenue they can usually generate have more usually larger resources to call on and there tends therefore to be a greater degree of specialisation within the news gathering operation. That specialisation and the newsroom roles involved can be categorised as:

Head of News or News Editor
News Reporter or Journalist
Senior News Journalist
Sports Reporter
Other specialist reporting (usually freelance) e.g. business news, science news, technology news etc
Weather Reporter
Road Traffic Reporter
Newsroom Administration Clerk
Sound technicians, operatives and recorders.
Studio technicians and engineers.

In a station with greater or more resources, each role will tend to be assigned to one individual. The smaller the news operations, and/or the smaller the news budgets, less staff may share the duties between them and one person may have to undertake a number of responsibilities. Working in different roles throughout the newsroom, gives any news journalist many argue, an invaluable understanding of the whole process.

A Typical News Bulletin Running Order

There is a commonality to most news broadcasts, whatever broadcast media they are on, and this generally means the ‘Big’ news story of the day first. A news editor will decide which this story is perceived by an understanding of listeners (and / or viewers), and what is most pertinent to them.

The Basics of Radio Journalism

Most news bulletins comprise a mix of news from various sources:

Other Specialist News: Celebrity, Science, Business etc

The coverage of each and the weight each is given is dependent on how the editor sees the relevance to the listener. They may, for example, consider a local story to be more important or of more interest to the audience than a story about national government. The content of these news items, will determine the running order of the bulletin.

The Local Reporter

The journalist in a smaller market radio station has a great advantage over their more distant rivals, by operating and reporting from the very area of local news that matters to their audience, and whilst advertising revenue may be increasingly harder to find for more localised media, their ability to cover such local stories is unarguable for a number of reasons:

They know the area they operate in better than someone coming in to the area
They may know the individuals as people who are involved in the story
They will have a greater understanding of how the news affects the area, locally
They will have a greater circle of contacts and access to more in-depth coverage.
They will find angles, ‘incomers’ can only guess at

Some news organisations often ‘parachute’ in more experienced, more nationally familiar, or bigger names in news to cover local stories in preference to using the reporters from the locale. This is a judgement call the editor in the regional or national newsroom will make, depending on the type or gravity of the story, or even their own preference on behalf of their audience.

The Route to Air

The reporter on the ground, in a smaller radio station, is in an ideal position to get the story from source to air quickly and will often do several jobs at once giving them invaluable experience. These roles will involve:

Recording the story
Interviewing the participants
Writing the script
Announcing the story as voice over and newsreader
Editing the audio
Producing the news piece
Inserting and presenting the news bulletin.
From sourcing the news item, to presenting the final broadcast piece, a smaller staffed radio station news journalist will have performed several job functions, and gained essential experience in learning the basics of radio journalism.

About the Author

- I am an internet marketing expert with an experience of 8 years.My hobbies are SEO,Content services and reading ebooks.I am founder of SRJ News andTech Preview.

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