Part I I
The number and type of positions involved in producing a daily newscast will vary from two or three people in a very small station to more than 100 in Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, or Tokyo.
Although responsibilities and titles can vary among stations, generally the news producer is the person who is directly in charge of the newscast.
In this digital, file server era, the role of the news producer has changed. Typically, he or she puts together the list of segments for each newscast based on the stories available.
The Director will then check the segments and make sure they are ready for air and then call for them as the news is broadcast. The person who responds to the director and operates the switcher during the broadcast is the TD or Technical Director.
Larger stations have segment producers in charge of specific stories or newscast segments. Some stations will have an executive producer who is over the producer(s).
As the title suggests, the ENG coordinator starts with the story assignments made by the assignment editor and works with reporters, ENG crews, editors, technicians, and the producer to see that the stories make it to "air."
ENG coordinators must not only thoroughly know their studio
and location equipment, but also understand news, which brings us to...
Ultimately, the job of the journalist — especially the investigative journalist — is to uncover the truth about situations and explain that truth to an audience in a clear and succinct manner.
Even when there seems to be a major injustice involved, it's not the responsibility of the reporter to be an advocate of a particular viewpoint, only to bring all of the related facts to the public's attention.
In the case of complex stories and situations, this does not exclude the necessary interpretation of the facts.
In mid-2002 two major stories were reported in the U.S. press: the molestation of hundreds of children by clergy and the largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history. In both cases the incriminating facts had been successfully hidden from the public as the situations continued to get progressively worse.
Had the truth been uncovered and publicized earlier, something could have been done to head off the pain and suffering that a great many people had to subsequently endure.
This includes the many additional children who were molested and the scores of people who lost all of their retirement funds while some corporate executives pocketed millions of dollars.
In both cases it was the journalist's job to uncover the
facts that people were rather successfully hiding and bring these facts
to the public's attention; in other words, to fulfill their role as "the
watchdogs of a democratic society." Generally, public exposure is
all that is needed to initiate corrective action.
Video Journalists (VJs)
Today, we commonly see "one-man bands" in the covering of television news; i.e., one person doing everything: camera operator, reporter, sound person, and editor.
In case you are wondering what the term "one-man band" refers to, it originally referred to a man who played multiple musical instruments at the same time. In the case of the person on the left, however, we have a one-woman band.
A slightly more modern interpretation is when an on-camera reporter shoots the basic story, then sets up a camera on a tripod, focuses on a mark on the ground, tilts the camera up to his or her height and locks it, puts on a mic and checks the audio, rolls the recorder, and then standing on the mark delivers the opening and closing to the piece.
Once back at the studio, the same person edits the piece and does the voice-over narration.
This has led to the term, video journalist (VJ), a single field reporter who writes, reports, shoots and edits stories.
It's not easy, but it saves hiring extra people. Thus,
it's more important than ever to understand the entire production and news process.
Covering News vs. Making News
say that when you observe an event you in some way change it. Leaving
the esoteric concepts of theoretical physics aside, we know that the
presence of news reporters and cameras not only changes events, but it
can even create news. An example of how this can take place happened
morning in this writer's professional career.
Broadcast news is a highly competitive business and in the rush to get a story on the air it's sometimes tempting to guess at facts or use information from a questionable source.
However, errors in stories not only damage a station's credibility but they can derail a reporter's professional future. Here are five points to keep in mind when writing news stories.
News Producer's Checklist
Once reporters turn in their stories and a news producer or director takes over, many decisions must still be made before the stories are ready for broadcast.
Among other things, the stories must be reviewed for balance, lead-ins (story introductions) must be written, and appropriate graphics must be prepared to support the stories.
You may recall that in Module 55 we discussed some important considerations in editing news pieces.
Conservatives think that TV news has a liberal bias and liberals feel that news has a conservative bias. Being a human endeavor, total objectively in news is impossible, of course. When you analyze bias complaints you are apt to conclude that bias is defined as "any view that differs from mine."
Although the media is often seen as having a liberal bias, it has been shown that most of the large broadcast operations are owned or managed by individuals who, almost without exception, hold views that are politically and socially to the right of center.
Bias can stem just as much from what TV news reports as what it doesn't report.
When it comes to politics, some individuals go to great effort goes into trying to keep certain things from being known. For example, it has been documented that many embarrassing government documents that have nothing to do with national security are marked "classified" simply to keep the information from the public.
To help address this issue The Freedom of Information Act (FOA) was passed that allows citizens and reporters access to some government documents.
However, not only is the process of obtaining documents fraught with red tape and delays, but key information is often blacked out (redacted), and in 2008 two-thirds of the requests were refused.
The question is, are the words of Patrick Henry, the prominent figure in the American Revolution (remembered for his "Give me Liberty, or give me Death!" speech) still valid, or have times changed to the point that it's now necessary for the government to keep certain of its "transactions" secret from the public?
Various independent agencies monitor the media for bias. A weekly program that examines all of the news outlets from the standpoint of possible bias and problematic reporting is Reliable Sources.
At Times, A Dangerous Profession
Throughout the world, and even in the United States, reporters have been imprisoned or killed to keep their stories from being aired.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said that in 2008, more than 100 journalists were jailed. Of these 45 were freelancers working for small news outlets with limited ability to bring pressure to bear on their captors.
For example, in mid-2008 two young American women were stopped by North Korean border guards and sentenced 12 years in a labor prison for trying to do a story on refugees for a small cable channel. Given the conditions in North Korean prisons, some likened this to a death sentence. Responding to world-wide pressure, the North Korean government released them in 2009.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, between 1992 and 2001, 399 journalists were killed "because of their work." By 2007, more than 100 journalists had been killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In the last decade years more than 1,000 journalists have been killed around the world.
Suffice it to say, investigating and breaking important stories often carries a degree of professional and personal risk. At the same time, this is the way awards are won and professional careers are advanced — and, far more importantly, wrongs are rectified and needed social change is instituted.
Living Dangerously is a blog piece based on a classroom experience.
Those who feel that covering wars from the battlefield is a man's job need to consider the story of Lara Logan, a woman who is considered one of today's most successful foreign correspondents.
Very much related is a disturbing and captivating book that you won't soon forget -- Breathing the Fire by CBS television and radio correspondent Kimberly Dozier.
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