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" covering 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. The same person may edit the piece and do the voice-over narration,
As television news moves to IP (Internet protocol) as a point-to--point medium this "all-in-one" individual may send the story from the field directly to the studio or "cloud" to be used as needed. All that's required is an Internet connection -- and, of course, a person who is very good at multi-tasking.
This has led to the term, video journalist (VJ), a single field reporter who does it all.
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
Scientists 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 one quiet 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."
Bias can stem just as much from what TV news reports as what it doesn't report.
We know that Individuals and agencies can go to lengths to keep keep certain things from being made public. But for a democracy to function and for voters to make informed decisions they must be made aware of malfeasance on the part of government and elected officials.
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.
It is no secret that if you can control journalists and the news media you can control elections.
Lately, there has been an effort to
demonize journalists -- some characterize it as a "war
on journalists"-- that insist on doing their jobs of
bringing information to the public.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOA)
To help address this issue The Freedom of Information Act (FOA) was passed that allows citizens and reporters access to government documents, thereby bypassing the filters of press releases.
However, not only is the process of obtaining documents through FOA fraught with red tape and delays, but key information is often blacked out (redacted), and in 2008 two-thirds of the requests were simply refused.
One 2013 request resulted in a 57 page reply but with more than 98 percent of it blacked out, leaving not much more than the title page.
Although the FOA law stipulates that the government must reply to a request within a set period of time, in practice that part of the law has sometimes been ignored. Since the FOA law has no "teeth" in it, there is little that can be done.
Even so, over the years some major stories have resulted from FOA documents.
At Times, A Dangerous Profession
Investigative journalism, especially when it involves corporate and governmental wrongdoing, it not a profession for sissies.
Throughout the world, and even in the United States, reporters have been imprisoned or killed to keep their stories from being aired.
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.
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.
The file, Are You Paranoid Yet?, covers two of the most recent attempts to stop U.S. investigative reporters from doing their jobs -- not in some dangerous foreign country without the rule of law, but right here in the United States.
After computers and telephones of major news centers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, FOX News and the Associated Press were hacked, reportedly by a branch of the U.S. government to find out who their sources were, journalists have suggested procedures designed to protect themselves and thwart hacking attempts.
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.
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