Six avoidable mistakes that happen in broadcast journalism


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Written by 6News News Director Lindsey Slater for KU Journalism students.
These common mistakes are totally avoidable but can easily happen in the day-to-day life of a broadcast journalist.

Published in: Career, News & Politics, Education
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Six avoidable mistakes that happen in broadcast journalism

  1. 1. Lindsey Slater, News Director 6News Lawrence “And I believe that good journalism, good television, can make our world a better place.” -Christiane Amanpour
  2. 2.    This happens a LOT. In print, people get a chance to re-read what has been written. In broadcast, you get ONE CHANCE to get your information across. Most commonly, this includes:  Run on sentences  Using passive voice and past tense  Including too much detail  Not spelling things out for anchor scripts
  3. 3. Print Story from the Associated Press: Lede: About $10 billion in projected pension debts will be moving from the state of Kansas to the balance sheets of local governments thanks to a change in national accounting standards.
  4. 4. Lede for Broadcast: Projected pension debts in the state's retirement system will be heading to local government balance sheets.
  5. 5.  Tips to Avoid This Trap:  Write for the ear! Read it out loud!  Use common words, but use them well.  Present a few well-developed facts instead of lots of little bits of information.  For anchor scripts , spell out numbers. ▪ Print: $9 billion ▪ Broadcast: nine billion dollars
  6. 6.  Use active voice!  Bad: A speech was given by the governor today.  Good: The governor gives a speech today.  Use present tense as often as possible.  Bad: Police arrested a Lawrence man and charged him with arson.  Good: A Lawrence man is in jail tonight. He’s charged with arson.
  7. 7.   All information you get as a reporter should be attributed to a source in some way. Otherwise, it may appear to viewers that the information is coming from you instead of the people you interviewed. Sourcing information can also help you avoid factual errors, which is obviously the biggest no-no in journalism.
  8. 8.  Sourcing information will also help you avoid inserting what could appear to be your own personal opinion. You never want the audience to think the information you’re relaying to them is from you.
  9. 9. Example: An online petition on change dot org was started yesterday. Now there are more than 100 supporters seeking justice for Marcia Epstein. - This sounds like the reporter is saying it’s justice that’s being sought for Marcia. It makes her appear to have that opinion and the reporter could be labeled as being biased.
  10. 10. Fixed: An online petition on change dot org was started yesterday. Now there are more than 100 supporters seeking what they call justice for Marcia Epstein. - The reporter makes it clear now that the supporters are the ones that believe justice is needed in the situation.
  11. 11.      DON’T DO IT! Double check your work. Double check that quote. Double check the names of the people you interviewed. IF YOUR MOTHER SAYS SHE LOVES YOU, CHECK IT OUT.
  12. 12.    Watch out for shaky video. This usually happens at the start and end of clips. It happens – just don’t use it. Avoid using really long and static shots, either of b-roll or of an interview. Keep your viewer engaged. Keep your story visually interesting. Avoid jump cuts!
  13. 13.    Don’t be afraid to use nat pops to add to your stories. Make sure audio levels are consistent. Your voice track, interviews and nat pops should all hit at the same level. Except for nat pops, all nats should be consistently lower than your main audio track.
  14. 14.   You’re not expected to know everything about a story you’re reporting on. The people you’re talking to are (usually) experts. Make sure you ask questions and get answers that you understand. If you don’t understand the content, how will you convey the information to viewers in a way that they can understand?