You will spend an intense nine months learning the fundamentals of the business - how to write, report and interview for radio and television, the technical and production skills you will need to get your stories on air and, importantly, the attitudes, news sense, judgement and discipline the profession demands.
After a few weeks you will be learning most of this, not in a class room, but in a realistic newsroom environment taught by experienced professional tutors and visiting broadcasters.
Practical work includes the coverage of live events such as courts, council meetings, press conferences, public meetings, sport and entertainment. Students are also expected to find stories on their own initiative from contacts they develop during the course.
There are also plentiful opportunities to develop the skills need to produce and present radio and television news programmes and short features.
Masters students will progress after 9 months to the dissertation stage.
Graduating students will have demonstrated achievement of the following outcomes:
Knowledge and understanding
At the end of the course a student should be able:
- To describe the principles, theory, philosophy, ethics, law and practice of journalism, especially broadcast journalism.
- To have developed an effective professional ‘news sense’ and the ability to use it to write or otherwise produce effective pieces of broadcast journalism.
- To adapt this ‘sense’ to the needs of differing audiences and editorial objectives.
- To have developed an understanding and awareness of the historical, social and cultural roots of this professional skill.
- To display competence in the use of relevant pieces of broadcast software and hardware.
- To display an awareness and understanding of critical issues current in the industry.
On completion of the course a student should be able to:
- Be sensitive to the debates within the industry and society about the importance, functions and future possibilities of broadcast journalism in a 21st century democracy.
- Have an awareness of the role of the broadcast journalist across the full range of broadcast outputs from the smallest commercial radio operation to the major national and international radio and television networks.
- Critically analyse current outputs against the above criteria.
- Communicate ‘spot’ news quickly, clearly and effectively for radio and tv.
- Communicate complex stories effectively for radio and tv from a range of primary and secondary sources and background knowledge, using appropriate techniques.
- Demonstrate the ability to develop a programme idea or scheme, intellectualise its rationale, ‘hear’ or ‘see’ it and communicate this insight effectively to a team of journalists.
- Understand the managerial, administrative and editorial skills and techniques needed to realise the idea in real-time.
Newsroom / Production Office:
- Broadcast computer systems, wire services.
- News values, objectivity and impartiality, bias, ethics, codes of conduct.
- The public service and the commercial broadcaster.
- Contacts books, note books, news diaries, paperwork.
- Roles in the production team, teamwork.
- The editorial conference, ideas and how to sell them.
- Resources and budgets.
- Bulletin building, programme making.
Writing, reporting and interviewing:
- The audience, news sense, writing for the ear, accuracy, balance, the importance of the intro, signposting, clarity and directness.
- Immediacy, up-dates, the running story.
- Sources of news, the role of the reporter, contacts, courts, councils, working a patch.
- Types of interview, interview techniques for radio and TV, use of the phone, phone manner.
- Sound, microphones, acoustics and balance.
- Developing audio awareness - ‘radio ears’.
- Portable recorders, digital formats, dubbing and editing.
- Actuality, voice reports and packages.
- Bulletin production and reading.
- Link writing, developing a style, the extended feature.
- Studio operations, self-operating a bulletin and a longer programme sequence.
- Technical basics. Operating the camera, essentials of composition, framing etc. Sound, choice of microphones., use of natural sound.
- Constructing a visual sequence. Editing - linear and non-linear. Graphics. Studio operations.
- Writing for television - why TV is not radio. Basic TV grammar. Writing to still sequences and pre-cut pictures. Telling a story in pictures.
- Cutting the pictures first vs. laying the voice track first.
- Edit and voice a report using existing raw footage.
- Working in pairs, shoot and edit two contrasting news reports.
- Working ‘on camera’; studio presentation, stand-ups.
- Voice training - getting the best out of yourself.
- Assessing and directing colleagues and contributors - getting the best out of others.
- Studio production.
- Production values for bulletins, news programmes and features.
- Leading a team.
Critical listening and viewing
- An opportunity to listen to and discuss a range of speech radio and television news output both local and national and to assess the effectiveness of differing techniques, structures or editorial objectives.
Method of Teaching and Learning
Broadcast journalism skills are acquired through a series of lectures, demonstrations, practical exercises and feedback sessions of increasing complexity and realism - from 'paper exercises' in the early days to complex radio and television productions that report on real events in real time. These sessions are supplemented by seminars, playbacks, group discussions and industry guests.
Basic writing, reporting and technical skills are taught in the first semester against a background of group listening and viewing to good current professional practice. The second semester adds editorial and production skills in both radio and television. We use the device of twice weekly ‘production days’ to integrate newsgathering and production skills with the team working and editorial/resource management skills needed to produce real-time broadcast outputs.
During the Easter break students test their skills against the real world in a work placement (or placements) of a minimum three weeks duration in a radio or television newsroom of their choice.
Finally individual writing, reporting and story telling skills are tested in both media are tested in the final portfolio of work and the final practical examinations.
Shorthand is not a compulsory element of the Broadcast course but it is made available at no extra cost. All broadcast students, and especially those with reporting ambitions, should seriously consider taking advantage of this opportunity to acquire an invaluable journalistic skill.