Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

When bi-media newsrooms go too far

Posted in Journalism by Adam Westbrook on February 11, 2009

There’s always been praise for bi-media newsrooms. Multiskilled journalists supplying for TV, radio and online.

And I agree, it’s a valid cost cutting measure.

What isn’t acceptable though – in my opinion – is the taking of this concept to the extreme and playing TV packages out on radio.

I’ve heard it done a couple of times on BBC local radio,  and you can tell because the report you hear in the news at 1, is the same as you see in the news at 1.30.

Why isn’t it acceptable? Because TV and Radio are their own seperate arts. TV requires tight scripting to pictures. Radio requires good writing to explain complex stories.

And you end up hearing lines like “as you can see behind me” or “this is the moment two robbers were caught on CCTV.” Not to mention gaps of natural sound which are used to punctuate TV reports.

Simply: get a journalist to produce 1 piece for 2 separate mediums…and both mediums suffer.


4 Responses

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  1. James said, on February 12, 2009 at 12:07 am

    The London commercial news station News Direct got in trouble with the (then) Radio Authority for playing out ITN television packages on the radio.

    Often visual references were left in, and of course talking heads usually aren’t referenced by name in TV scripts.

  2. Chris Stevens said, on February 13, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    You’d love (or not) CNN 1190 here in Dallas… it’s a direct feed of the CNN Headline News TV channel. Except with a few hours sold to local advertisers to run their own shows. We get lovely moments like…

    “After the break, we’ll show you what happened next here… [muffled sound of punter-created video]…”

    Also, PBS has a show called The New Hour with Jim Lehrer. It’s an hour of TV news, which my local PBS station puts out on the radio. Bits that don’t translate include the nightly roll-call of newly named US casualties of war. It’s a roll-call that includes pictures and names on screen, but is presented in silence. On the radio version, all you get is the silence. Feels very odd.


    Chris Stevens
    (Who used to do radio in your patch, now based in the USA doing jingles and imaging)

  3. adamwestbrook said, on February 13, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    James, typical of the Radio Authority’s successors to be far less strict!

    Chris, that sounds hilariously bad-forgive my ignorance, are PBS the stations which appeal for donations to keep going? Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Chris Stevens said, on February 16, 2009 at 5:57 am

    Yes, they’re the ones. It’s the closest thing we have to Radio 4, and apart from the annoying occasional pledge drive, the output is generally really good. The Dallas station rebroadcasts the World Service from midnight too, which I really like.

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