Top journalistic tips

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It’s been almost 6 months since the beginning of my course and I’m pleased to say I have definitely learnt a great deal.

Me and Colin- driving the radio desk, early days!

Me and Colin- driving the radio desk, early days!

In the first few months I remember when we were given our first assessment, a ‘link and clip,’ which was 25-30 seconds of copy and  a short 20-25 second clip from a relevant interviewee. We were all  panicking and spent hours re-phrasing sentences, editing one clip and ‘faffing’ around the newsroom. Six months down the line and we’re out filming 3 minute television packages, leading a team, producing hour and a half breakfast shows, conducting full interviews, writing online content, producing radio packages etc.

Throughout the course we’ve also been lucky enough to have some excellent guest speakers from the industry giving us some top tips e.g. Jonathan Hill (ITV,) Charles Reiss, London Evening Standard’s former Political Editor , Mark Brayne, former BBC Correspondent, Peter Preston, former editor of The Guardian, John Ryan, Managing editor for BBC radio Manchester, Bill Turnbull (BBC,) to name just a few. Our lecturers, Colin Larcombe, Emma Gilliam and Tony O’shaughnessy have also been preparing us for the scary world of work by teaching us all their knowledge and assessing our performance on production days. Here’s a list of some of the tips I’ve picked up on my exciting journalistic journey so far…

RADIO:

  1. Be clear, concise and accurate
  2. ALWAYS answer the following: Who, What, Where, When, Why?

    Practicing our Breakfast show

    Me and Karen, practicing for the Breakfast show!

  3. Make sure the story is current, why does anyone care?
  4. Check the source
  5. Always have ideas for different treatments of a story
  6. Use conversational writing
  7. Don’t use too many statistics in a bulletin, the listener will switch off
  8. Think why you are using a certain interviewee, what do they have to add to the story?
  9. CHECK the Audio levels, make sure the audio is not distorted or too quiet
  10. When doing a package, think carefully about wild-track and structure
  11. Record links on location (sounds far more interesting)
  12. Make the most of your toolbox:  voicer, two-way, illustrated two-way, wrap, package, link and clip, copy (which one is more appropriate for the story you’re trying to tell)
  13. Be organised
  14. Don’t let the adrenalin take over (journalism is exciting but you must not let the adrenalin distract you from the job)
  15. Always lead into a clip by introducing the voice that the listener is about to hear

TELEVISION:

  1. Always think pictures

    TV studio gallery practice!

    TV studio gallery practice!

  2. When filming, film the same thing from 3 or 4 different angles
  3. Avoid pans, tilts, moving zooms
  4. You can never have too many close-ups
  5. With vox-pops, remember camera right, camera left (the person being voxed will alternate e.g looking to the left/right of the camera)
  6. Close-ups are best when interviewing (they are more important than the background)
  7. Always use headphones when on location (to ensure natural sound and correct levels of sound)
  8. Filming- check white balance, shutter speed, gain, focus, iris- flip to ‘auto’ to see what the camera expects the picture to look like and adjust in ‘manual’ mode to achieve that
  9. Make sure the tripod is level
  10. Write to pictures (when the presenter speaks the pictures should correspond to what’s being said e.g. when reading ‘Sam Warburton’ the picture will be of him and not Warren Gatland!)
  11. ALWAYS use pictures when possible (presenter in view is  last resort)
  12. Pieces to camera- should be about 15 seconds and used when what needs to be said can’t be reflected in the pictures
  13. Two-ways- be natural, know your story, use your script effectively, deliver it with authority, practice, make it
  14. Presenting- be natural, move your script along incase auto-cue fails, adjust your tone so it suits the story (happy if it’s a positive story, serious if it’s a sad story etc,) don’t wear bright or patterned clothing, be plain so that the viewer isn’t looking at your flowery suit but is listening to WHAT you have to say.
  15. Check spelling, capital letters, be clear, accurate and NEVER write anything you don’t understand.

I could probably write hundreds more but these are some that have definitely helped me develop my journalistic skills.

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