The Important Role of News Reporters
Every morning when I get up, the very first thing I do is turn on the TV--but not for cartoons or MTV. It has become a habit for me to watch the news in the morning. I feel the need to know what is going on because I know that no matter where the news happens, 99 percent of the time it will, directly or indirectly, affect me or people I care about. The broadcast media has become a part of my life and the lives of almost everyone in the Western world. We may not know the names of our senators, but Katie Couric or Tom Brokaw are familiar names in every American household. Not many of us realize, however, that the job of the news reporter is not as glorious as we imagine. This paper will offer you a closer look on what goes on behind the TV screen or radio microphone.
Like all other discourse communities, news reporters have their own jargon. It consists mostly of technical terms describing different aspects of news production. In radio, there are voicers, readers, Q&A's, and packages--all of these are types of stories. Voicer is a news story voiced by a reporter; reader is a script of a news story read by a news anchor; Q&A is an interview; and package is a news story produced and read by a reporter that also includes parts of interviews or natural sound. A particular feature of a news reporter's jargon is that very often there are a couple of different terms for one concept. For example, other words for "package" are "wrap" and "feature"; "cut," "bite" (or "soundbite") and "actuality" all refer to a part of an interview. But in most cases, the jargon of the news reporters is much more understandable to an outsider than, for example, the specialized language of chemists. The goal of reporters is to make their stories as conversational as possible so they can be easily understood by the audience. It is believed that the audience will not put any special effort in trying to comprehend the story--if it is confusing, they will change the channel. This applies especially to the broadcast media. Unlike a reader with a newspaper, the listener/viewer does not have an option of rereading a confusing sentence for better understanding. If one aspect of a story is missed or misunderstood because of poor wording, there is no way of rewinding the tape to get back to it. Therefore, broadcast journalists must be very clear and concise in their writing and try to avoid long names, titles, or big numbers. To illustrate this point, here is a newspaper paragraph. Try to read it out loud like a newscaster and decide if it is easily understandable to a driver who is battling the morning traffic while listening to your newscast.
Surgeon General William H. Shearer announced today that Charles R. Mahaffey, 45, chairman of the US Pharmaceutical Corporation, had succeeded Donald P. Ingraham, 64, president of the National Educational Media Association, to head the government's Anti-Smoking Campaign starting next month (Shook...