Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

9 questions for newsreaders

Posted in Broadcasting and Media, Journalism by Adam Westbrook on January 15, 2009

Aaah, reading the news. Some people wait years to get to do it. Some people have to fight, and beg, and slog it out to get a chance.

And if you work in radio – particularly local radio – you could find yourself behind the mic weeks out of college.

Many big media groups offer on the job training and voice coaching. But what else must the newsreader know?

Adam Westbrook

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Here are 9 questions for a newsreader to ask themselves after every bulletin:

01. it legally sound and accurate?

Possibly the most important one. Have you remembered your ‘allegedlys’ your ‘he denies the charges’ and your Section 39?

02. Did you treat stories in a responsible way?

Sometimes it’s easy to exaggerate the stories, especially if you’re trying to make it a lead, or even in the pursuit of creativity.

03. Were they appropriate for a family audience?

Dogs die in hot cars, and kids cry in hot cars when the radio’s talking about graphic violence and sex.

04. Would the listener trust you? Have you left any questions unanswered?

It’s vital you are straight with your listener. Keep your scripts simple, and for the love of God, don’t include phrases, terms or explanations when even you don’t know what they mean. This is even more important during the recession. When you tell your audience a local company has gone into receivership, what does that mean? Getting it wrong, or skimming over it doesn’t help anyone understand these difficult times.

05. Have you been creative, but not confusing?

Being creative with your audio and your writing is what makes you stand out in a competitive market. That’s split clips (sometimes called turbos), creative voxes, asking questions, even being poetic. But don’t confuse your listener or distort the story in the pursuit of creativity.

06. Did you involve the listener?

Radio was creating virtual communties long before social networking. How can you involve your listener? Can they text or email their thoughts? Do you have an answerphone line they can call? A montage of listener calls on the hot topic of the day is always a winner.

07. Did you help increase web traffic?

Use every opportunity to throw listeners to your website. But be wary of reading out a web address after every story. The website is very useful if there’s an important story, like the Middle East, which is just too dry. Give it two lines, and then tell your listener to go online if they want more.

08. Did you speak directly to your listener?

That means phrases like “as we told you earlier” “you might remember we told you about” “you’ve been getting in touch with us about…”. The old adage of radio remains: you’re talking to a single listener not a million. It is a personal medium. Talk to them, not at them.

09. Did the stories you chose reflect what your listeners are talking about?

It’s difficult to know what the talking point is when you’re stuck on a newdesk. Use your reporters. Watch the news channels. But don’t be pressured into a lead, just because your rivals are.

Taken from a selection of questions Bauer Radio journalists are often asked to ask themselves.

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  1. Recommended - blog - James Cridland said, on January 20, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    […] Westbrook is a journalist at Bauer’s Viking FM in Hull. Interestingly, 9 Questions For Newsreaders (taken from a list produced by Bauer) includes the question “Did you help increase web […]

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