This is a guide covering everything you need to know about broadcast journalism.
We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):
- What is Broadcast Journalism (Definition)?
- What is the Work of a Broadcast Journalist?
- Why is Broadcast Journalism Important?
- What are the Types of Broadcast Journalism?
- What is the History of Broadcast Journalism?
- How to Become a Broadcast Journalist (Tips)?
- And more
Let’s dive in!
What is Broadcast Journalism (Definition)?
Any journalism or reporting that takes place over the broadcast mediums, i.e. radio and television, is known as broadcast journalism. Broadcast journalism makes use of electronic devices for disseminating news across the globe.
It is to be contrasted with print or newspaper journalism where the medium is the written word.
Broadcast journalism has a history that spans more than a hundred years. It has captured some of the greatest moments in history.
The radio uses voice and sound to convey the story, while television uses both sound and visuals (still as well as moving) to relay the top stories to the public.
Because broadcast journalism uses an entirely different medium, it also has different techniques for acquiring and displaying information.
There are different media ethics and rules promulgated by the media regulators and federations to govern the practice of broadcast journalism.
A broadcast journalist or reporter is the face and voice of a media organization. However, they are, of course, not the only people that go into the production of broadcast journalism.
The entire staff of a broadcast crew will normally include the Producer, the Cameraman, Scriptwriter, and Audio and Video Technicians, working behind the scenes along with the reporters and anchors.
That being said, it can be rightly argued that when we refer to broadcast journalists we mean the anchors that we see on our screens or the reporters who bring us stories from the fields.
They are, as I said before, the faces and voices of the news.
What is the Work of a Broadcast Journalist?
The work of a broadcast journalist is a little different from print journalists.
They work differently, pursue stories in their own ways, and research and gather information suited to their own mediums.
For example, it is the aim of a broadcast journalist to get an interview on tape if he can whenever possible.
The journalist will use connections, make calls, and arrange a few meetups to get the actual voice of the newsmaker on tape.
These are called SOT or Sound on Tape in journalistic lingo.
If the broadcast journalist belongs to a TV channel then it is also important that they have visuals related to the story.
Normally, the journalist travels to the place of the news story, and while he/she is gathering facts, the crew of technicians and cameramen are recording visuals for the news report.
Later, when these visuals are played on TV, the reporter’s voice narrates the story over visuals, making the experience that much real for the viewer.
The reporter’s narration over moving or still images in a news report is known as a voice-over.
For both the Radio and TV, the reporters have to work principally as journalists, but their mode of working to gather information varies.
Why is Broadcast Journalism Important?
Almost 98.2% of U.S. homes own a television set, and about 80% of those have their TVs connected to the Internet via a smart device.
That’s unprecedented mass media penetration in the U.S. alone.
The content produced for the broadcast media is not only more easily consumable, but it is also more influential, which is the reason why advertisers, campaign managers, and other promoters tend to produce ads for the broadcast medium, especially TV.
Broadcast journalism is the true mass medium as its reach is not only extensive, but it is also easily accessible for the educated as well as the less educated.
TV or Radio is the nondiscriminatory medium in that sense, whereas, the newspaper has a well-read and educated readership.
That’s not to say that TV or Radio is not as trustworthy. In fact, with the advent of social media and fake news, the importance of network television news has increased.
The reason that the Internet has not been able to topple the TV’s dominance over the news airwaves is that, in its current state, the Internet news disseminating platforms or social media platforms are extremely chaotic, and it is hard to sift through the egregious amount of fake news that’s spread there every minute.
What are the Types of Broadcast Journalism?
There are basically three types of broadcast journalism based on the medium of dissemination:
1. Radio Broadcast Journalism
Broadcast journalism was born here. The radio uses sound to convey news.
During the news segment on the radio, the anchor will read the news, and sounds from the event are played in the background.
Reporters also perform voiceovers over these sounds which are punctuated with audio interviews with the newsmakers.
2. Television Broadcast Journalism
This is the most commonly known and used broadcast medium to this day. It is easy to consume information on the television.
Usually, the bulletin is read by an anchorperson who reads the news from a teleprompter.
They may hand it over to reporters on the field for a news segment or report which runs for about 2–3 minutes before handing it back to the anchor.
3. Internet Broadcast Journalism:
A relatively new phenomenon in the broadcasting world is citizen journalism, which is reporting news by citizens with the help of their smartphones and uploading it to social media platforms.
The media houses realizing the importance and the sheer reach of the online medium have also shifted their focus to this medium, and they now have regular programs broadcast exclusively on the Internet.
What is the History of Broadcast Journalism?
The history of broadcast journalism starts with the very first broadcast made on radio.
The first radio station to report on the election results of 1920 was KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Radio (the first broadcast medium)
The KDKA broadcast news on the results almost to the minute and changed the way news was reported forever.
This paved way for more news programs on the radio because people were enthusiastic about how immediate the news was relayed on the medium.
It also had the effect of freeing up newspapers to focus more on in-depth analysis and thorough fact-checking for their own stories.
In the late 1920s, with the birth of NBC and CBS, the radio news landscape became more and more authoritative, boasting listeners into the thousands and millions.
During the height of WW2, radio technology had advanced and played a pivotal role in relaying news from Europe to the enthralled American public.
Edward R. Murrow of CBS traveled to Europe to report on the war from the frontline.
His reports on the ‘London Blitz’ (the nine-month-long bombing raids by Nazi Germany against England) were the greatest pieces of reporting on the radio up until that time.
The war was reported back home almost instantaneously through the radio.
The Pearl Harbor incident that occurred in 1941 was also announced on the radio when President Roosevelt interrupted the regular radio proceedings with the news that America had been attacked by Japan.
The TV revolution
After the war ended, TV technology had advanced and during the 1960s America had adopted TV as their broadcast medium of choice.
This was the time when historical events were being telecast live.
The Kennedy Assassination in 1963, The Moon landing in 1969, and the Vietnam War were all events that unfolded on American TV screens.
TV’s dominance of the broadcast medium was unchallenged for almost more than 50 years until the rise of the Internet, which has somewhat shaken its invulnerable status as the medium of choice for news.
The Internet and the current state of news
The Internet is a highly versatile medium where not only the strengths of radio and TV are combined, but there is also the Internet’s own set of unique strengths that were lacking in the other two mediums.
For example, with TV and radio, it was impossible to give instant feedback, but with the Internet, you can comment, ask questions, and make suggestions right then and there on the live broadcast of a program through the chat section.
With the Internet, feedback is almost as fast as snapping your fingers.
But, that has also made fake news an impossible problem for the Internet as there is literally no regulation to govern the medium.
How to Become a Broadcast Journalist (Tips)?
Follow the tips below to find gainful employment in broadcast journalism, or if you are a little ambitious, you can open up your own production house once you have gained enough experience working in the field.
1. Writing for your college publications
This is an easy way for someone who is still studying at college to get hands-on experience of what it’s like to work as a journalist.
Write about the stories on and off-campus that you think to affect the students or the management.
You can also make and edit promotional video content for your institution.
2. Get an internship
Internships are hardly any way near the roles that you have dreamed of, and that’s why to get your foot in the door, use the opportunity to intern at a famous organization.
Let your seniors show you the ropes when you are still trying to make it as a journalist. Observe and analyze how professionals work on a news story.
3. Build up a portfolio
When applying for a job, your portfolio tells the employers that this is not your first rodeo and that you have been on this road before.
In broadcast journalism, competition is stiff, especially when the Internet has siphoned off viewership from many of the leading news networks.
You’ve got to be resourceful.
Use the immense power of the Internet and start your own channel using YouTube, try out citizen journalism, sell your recorded videos of news events to TV channels, and, lastly, be active on Twitter, the most widely used social media news platform out there.
Go to networking events and build yourself up as an up-and-coming journalist. Meet the people in the business, and let them know that you are open for collaborations.
They might let you know if they have something for you. Who knows you might get a big-paying job from it.
According to the job site Indeed.com,
“Because of the competitive nature of broadcast journalism, connecting with industry professionals and influencers is a great way to stand out and discover new opportunities.”
5. Upskill constantly
Don’t be satisfied with where you are in life. The same is true for broadcast journalism. Constantly stay on top of the trends and technology.
Don’t be satisfied with a job.
Go make a YouTube channel, start a podcast on the news events, become an analyst, write for print, learn the technical stuff, and the list goes on.
Staying updated and upskilling constantly will naturally boost your credentials among a sea of average journalists.
To further explore how to become a broadcast journalist, we also recommend this video by BTaylor TV:
Broadcast journalism uses the electronic medium to disseminate information to mass audiences.
It evolved from radio to television, and now to the Internet.
The immediacy and accessibility of the medium make it an important aspect of any functioning democracy.
The possibilities and roles that can be pursued in broadcast journalism are endless.
Sikandar is opinionated on a diverse set of topics that include, but are not limited to, Productivity, Health, Fitness, Motivation, and Career. He is in love with the written word and writes mainly to help others on their self-actualizing journeys. A journalist by education, getting to the bottom of things is his modus operandi. Often, he finds himself moonlighting as a life coach to his family, friends, and colleagues. He can be reached at his LinkedIn for collaboration.