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Broadcast journalism

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  • Broadcast journalism

    BROADCAST JOURNALISM


    The world a few years ago was a testing laboratory for innovative television technology that has now become a versatile tool for the leapfrogging communication scenario. Changes such as Studio film, videotape colour, quicker editing, miniaturization of bulky electronic gears, orbiting communications satellite providing visual and sound links and the continuous refinement of technology to name a few, have revolutionized the world of broadcast journalism.
    Experimental television broadcasting started in the 1920s in the USA in a small way using a mechanical scanning disc which could only scan a picture slowly. All this changed with the invention of the iconoskinescope (picture tube), the electronic camera and television home receivers. By the 1930s NBC and BBC had set up their TV stations in New York and London respectively. The World war hampered any further development in television broadcasting.
    The 1960s was the Age of Satellite Communications. Early Bird, the first communication satellite was launched and two big international satellite systems, Intelsat and Intersputnik began operating leading to phenomenal progress. In the 1970s, more sophisticated transmission techniques using optical fibre cables and computer technology were introduced. A computer controlled network to carry two-way video information to and from households was designed in Japan. Further developments included the audio-visual cassette, videotape recorder, closed circuit TV, cable and pay television and Direct Broadcasting Systems.
    Advantages of Television Media
    Television as distinguished from the press has a natural attribute: the immense personal and graphic impact on its viewers, which is in a sense more "communicative", interactive and interpersonal than the printed word. Television "transports" the audience to the scene of the event and leads them to experience emotion and involvement with the event.
    The main difference between press and television is the element of time. The newsperson is dependent on limited time instead of stretchable space on a newspaper, and he/she also has to take into account the audience's attention span. He/she has to select news items that will interest people and broadcast it to them within the timeframe allowed.
    On-the-scene Reporting
    Recent trends have shown an increased use of first-hand, on-the-spot broadcasting/reporting of a story directly from the scene of news. Efficient technology has increased the speed of such coverage. A highly organized team geared to the day-to-day demands of news broadcasting is very much an essential part today due to increased competitiveness and the irrefutable need for keeping up the quality of news delivery to a very media savvy audience.
    Judgments and critical evaluations of the news items to be broadcast begin with the top news executives of the organization. They have a group of editors or producers of the program reporting to them, who in turn command a host of reporters, writers, cameramen, film editors and technicians. Hours before the program is to be aired, the editor assigns work to his subordinates, anticipates future developments and reserves sufficient flexibility to cope with news occurring during and before airing of the program.
    Network correspondents in particular areas or reporters affiliated to local stations prepare newsworthy items and mount them for transmission and recording ahead of program time or live transmission. Stories from far away areas are filmed and dispatched by air transportation to points within reach for feeding into the show.
    After all the news has been gathered and the late-breaking additions are made, the news must be edited to fit the air time. Stories to be read out by newscasters must be combined with silent and sound film, video and audio tapes, still photographs, amps and other audio-visual "accessories". The final script with the audio-visual elements is called the "master" which should be crisp, effective and professional.
    The shape of any news show is determined not only by the choice of what is news, but also by the emphasis given to different stories and the way it is presented. The way a story is written creates an impact on the listener.
    Many have raised the question as to the role of television other than its entertainment function: is it not to dissent, persuade, to chronicle events of the day as judgments? A pertinent question here is whether the broadcasting people have the wisdom to tell the nation what to do about matters of vital importance. If one point of view is emphasised, is there not a responsibility to present the other side? Many well-known media persons have commented on this Former NBC President Kitner says, "It is not our job to take sides. We should present the story objectively and let the public decide for themselves." This brings in the need for objectivity. But again one person's objectivity may be another person's story with a slant and vice-versa. This is one area which is open to debate.
    Investigative Reporting
    William Wood in his book "Electronic Journalism" says that the forms of journalism calculated to stir things up are not complete without investigative reporting, sometimes called enterprise reporting, which is digging for unknown facts that result in an expose.
    Talk Programs and Depth Interviews
    Special documentaries produced over long periods are called "talk" programs and are more in depth than normal news stories. Depth interviews, panels of experts, debates between political candidates are other ways in which television journalism garners audience pulling power. Talk programs are cheaper and easier to produce than documentaries.
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