Chapter 18

Chapter 18 - Broadcasters

Broadcasting is an entirely different medium from print, using sight and sound to communicate with its audience. Still, broadcast journalists are fully a part of the journalistic profession and subject to all of the basic conventions and demands of presenting news and information accurately.

Broadcast journalists must know how to use the language in both a spoken and written form. Broadcast news stories are limited by the amount of time allotted to those stories, and often that time is very limited. Broadcasters must be good enough with the language that they can write quickly and efficiently, present information accurately and clearly.

Clarity is a key to broadcast writing. Viewers and listeners do not have the opportunity to hear again what a broadcaster has said. It must be clear the first time it is spoken.

Broadcast journalism is a highly competitive field. Unlike the situation for many newspapers, television stations do not have a monopoly in many areas, and news departments find themselves competing against one another. Within the profession, the normal career route is to begin in a small market and then to jump to larger markets (with higher salaries) as the opportunities arise. The competition to do this can be intense.

Study questions
  • What are the qualities that make a good broadcast journalist?

  • What are the factors involved in the selection of news for broadcasting?

  • Broadcasters are said to have great impact on their audiences. What does that mean?

  • In addition to the reporter who is on screen, who are some of the other people who help get a story ready for broadcast?

  • What are the basic broadcast news formats?

  • What are the steps one should take to become a broadcast journalist?

Chapter notes

American Sportscasters Association. Some students may be interested in getting into sports broadcasting. Those who are serious about it -- and it's not easy to do -- should take a look at the web site of the American Sportscasters Association. The site has a lot of excellent information about the field and how to break into it.

Information and opinion. With all of the talk shows on television -- especially in the field of politics and sports -- it might seem that the lines between news and opinion have been blurred beyond recognition. That's not true, however. Most television journalists remain serious about giving their viewers information rather than their analysis or opinions about what they cover. When you watch television news, listen carefully to what you are getting. Is it information or opinion? No matter how articulate the broadcaster, it won't take you long to discern the difference.

Salary information. The book includes broadcast news salary information for 2001 from the Radio-Television News Directors Association. Additional and updated information can be found at the RTNDA web site ( The salary survey is updated annually.

Radio news. Radio news -- particularly local radio news -- is a sadly neglected part of journalism. The only local radio news of any quality seems to occur in the large cities where there is competition for audiences. Otherwise, radio news seems to be either bad or neglected. Talk radio is not news, although some people seem to believe that it is. Most midsize and small town radio stations do not believe there is an audience for local news. Two of the best places on the web to find good radio news are National Public Radio and Voice of America.

Key terms and concepts

• Broadcast journalism is governed by the concept of time.

Deadlines – the time when stories should be finished – are rigid because broadcast news shows are scheduled to air at certain times and cannot be delayed. Broadcast journalists must also be aware of how much time it takes to tell their stories.

• Broadcast journalists always try to find audio or visual elements to include in their stories.

Copy – this term refers to the written form of broadcast news stories. Copy preparation is an important part of the broadcast news process.

Producer – someone who has production responsibilities either for a story or for an entire newscast; a producer is like an editor for a print publication, ensuring that stories are finished and put on the air and also maintaining the standards of journalism to which the news organization adheres.

Live shot – a broadcast news story that shows a reporter at the scene of the news presenting information or interviewing a source; these shots do not require scripts or broadcast copy but they do require preparation.

Related web
sites for
Chapter 18

B-Roll Online

Broadcasters: WWW virtual library

Broadcast Education Association

National Association of Broadcasters


Section I | 1: News and Society  |  2: Culture of Journalism  |  3: Becoming a Journalist
Section II  |  4: Newspapers  |  5: Magazines  |  6: Television and Radio  |  7: News Web Sites
Section III  |  8: Reporters  |  9: Reporting  |  10: Writing news and features  |  11: Style  | 
12: Editors13: Editing and headline writing  |  14: Visual Journalists  |
  15: Graphics Journalism  |  16: Photojournalism  |  17: Publication Design  |
  18: Broadcasters  |  19: Writing for Broadcast
Section IV  |  20: Beginnings of Journalism  |  21: Journalism Comes of Age  | 
22: New Realities, New Journalism  |   23: 20th Century and Beyond
Section V  |  24: Law and the Journalist  |  25: Ethical Practices  |   26: Present and Future
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