Unit 102057 Digital Journalism and Production (“the unit”) has been an invaluable learning experience and has provided a deeper insight into digital journalistic practices and processes.
Broadcast journalism practices and processes
Australian broadcast practices involve a wide range of techniques and processes to ensure the delivery of high quality story packages.
Smart phones can be a “mobile newsroom in your pocket” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/academy/journalism/skills/filming-and-recording/article/art20130702112133395). The increasing use and reliance on smart phones in everyday journalistic practices is arguably a revolution in itself. Every news organisation performs two basic tasks: getting the news in, and putting it out (Boyd, 2012, p. 285). Smart phones provide journalists 24/7 accessible key information on social media.
Editing is a critical aspect of broadcast news. Non-linear editing was the focal of the unit, whereby shots were digitised on the smartphone. Shots, or stills, were assembled and adjusted in any order. Three shots formed the basis of all shots – the long shot, medium shot and close-up (Boyd, 2012, p. 322). Zooming, tracking, panning and canting tend not to feature too largely in a news report, due to its difficulty in editing impossible to edit (p. 324).
Story packages were carried out either individually or in pairs. Camera crews generally comprise between one to three people (Alysen, 2012). The recorder and reporter tend to stand close to the cameraperson (Boyd, 2012, p. 315). The team dynamic was effective as two members focused on the camera whilst the third member spoke to the interviewees. Switching roles from reporter to both cameraperson and reporter for the second story was interesting in this respect. The finer details such as camera angles and location were easier to adjust. Working individually allowed exposure to a broader variety of required skills when using the camera and this was an invaluable experience in itself.
Clip-on microphones were used for both story packages. Alexander and Stuart (2016) claim tie clip or clip-on microphones are preferred in indoor environments where there is no wind noise present (p. 134). The drawback is clip-on microphones are particularly susceptible to background noise and clothing rustle, because they work on the condenser principle, which means they draw in spurious background noise (Boyd, p. 315). The disadvantages of this particular microphone proved evident in the first package. Numerous trips to p00
The camera’s internal white balance should also be adjusted to compensate for daylight, twilight and artificial light. Adjust the white balance every time the camera shoots in different lighting conditions. (Boyd, p. 317). Other [TV stations] opt for a one-person crew where the reporter is expected to be a multi-skilled jack-of-all-trades. (Boyd, p. 317). Producing good pictures is only half the job. Newsgathering isn’t finished until those pictures are back at base being edited to go out on air (Boyd, p. 319).
Edited TV reports often cut from shot to shot every five seconds, but to give the editor five seconds of footage worth using the cameraman will need to record at least twice that much. Every shot should be held for a count of 10 or even 20 (Boyd, p. 324). He or she should avoid pans and zooms unless absolutely necessary. For one thing, they often slow down the action. Cutting to a close-up is faster. For another, they can be difficult to edit (p. 324).
The sound of the story adds to the viewer’s sense of being there (Boyd, p. 336). The sound-bite (or grab) should encapsulate the main point of the argument; the strongest opinion or reaction. The piece to camera can be used at the beginning of an item to set the scene, in the middle to act as bridge linking two threads of the story or at the end as the reporter’s way of signing-off (Boyd, p. 339). Where the script is to be written to the pictures, split-second timing is required to precisely complement the spoken words with the images on screen (Boyd, p. 344).
2. Radio practices and processes
Radio journalists have broader freedom than broadcast journalists in the selection of news stories and recording. As radio journalism is solely reliant on sound and voice, the audio and sound bites are critical elements of radio practice.
The importance of the quality of sound is a critical element of radio practice. The quality of microphones comes into play here, as the equipment provided by the University is understandably student friendly and affordable.
The selection of interviewees arguably has the power to dramatically change the story. Interviewing prominent, unexpected or powerful figures can add diversity to the story. I found it much easier to interview people with sound only, rather than on camera.
3. Adapting a story into different digital platforms
Multi platform story telling demands a reporter to remain flexible, open minded and attentive to not only the needs and desires of the audience, but also the form and format of each digital platform. The increasing dependance of readers on
For example, Twitter users are restricted to a 140 character capacity and the ability to upload a photo or url along with the post. Facebook allows users much greater word length in each post along with an optional video, photo or url to be added to the post.
4. Interplay of ethics and storytelling
Broadcast journalists are being held to high standards of ethics by their editors and owners or regulators. Ethics are now being heavily considered in the reporting of news (Stewart & Alexander, 2016, p. 19). Honesty in broadcasting is not just broadcasting what is known to be true, but legally and provably true and impartial (p. 20). News is everywhere and the increasing speed of news and comment means an understanding of the demands of the law, regulators and in compliance (p. 20). Most regulation aims to ensure decency, fairness and impartiality and to support the basic democratic concept of freedom of expression (p. 21).
5. Personal reflection
Unit 102057 has been an invaluable learning experience into the insight of the responsibilities and practices of radio and broadcast journalists. Story Package 1 improved my team building skills. Prior to this unit, I was admittedly very unfamiliar with the processes in broadcast journalism. I wasn’t aware of the different types of story packages and the critical importance of every aspect of the story.
The second story package was challenging in different ways. I pushed myself outside my comfort zone by filming and learning editing software on my own for the first time. My limited exposure to editing software and camera shots made me initially feel quite vulnerable.
– Boyd, A. (2001). Broadcast journalism: Techniques. Taylor and Francis.
– Stewart, P., & Alexander, R. (2016). Broadcast journalism: Techniques of radio and television news. Routledge.