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David Easson. Freelance Broadcast Journalist. Bauer Media. talkSPORT
Understand the industry: Some radio newsrooms are just one person, which means you will be a vital extra pair of hands AND you will actually get to do something.
Sometimes being in a big station with 5 or 6 journalists (we’re talking BBC) you can end up just shadowing and might feel a bit left out – but you will get that chance to prove yourself early on. You have to recognise it and take it.
Know Our Audience: Know who we are broadcasting to and don’t come in with pre-conceived ideas or any snobbery about the audience. This isn’t Guardian FM. Know what kind of stories they will be interested in and think about how you can localise national stories to talk to our listeners. Not everyone in Leeds cares about the Dakota Pipeline or Donald Trump’s choice of supreme court judge or a bomb attack in Kinshasa
Be Ready for Work: This is a job; it’s not work experience. Dress for the possibility you might be out interviewing the Council Leader or MP. Dress smart, but not as if you’re going to a wedding. I wear jeans to work. No sportswear. Don’t put your Manchester United shirt on, because you might be off to the Leeds United press conference (that has happened). And listen to the morning news, know what the big story is nationally and on your station. It’ll give you ideas and you need to show the team you’re ready and interested – and that you know the patch
Enthusiasm: If you’re working with one or two people in a commercial radio newsroom, remember these journos are ‘on desk’ (writing and reading the news, doing EVERYTHING at once) so they are busy. Offer to help, BE ANY GOOD, and you’ll get more to do. But there are ways to offer help.
“Is there anything I can do?” makes me have to think, and I’m busy enough thanks.
“What’s in this bulletin, what do you need? How about this?” at least lets me explain what’s going on to you and allows you space to perhaps offer ideas.
You may be given a menial task to be getting on with – it’s to see how adaptable you are, not to use up ALL of your time. Get it done, get it done quick, and we’ll find something proper for you to do.
Which brings us on to…
Time Management: If you’re studying broadcast journalism you should be honing your skills from having 8 weeks to make a radio package to how it is in the newsroom: you’ve got 3 hours (tops)
So if you’re sent out to get a vox for tomorrow morning’s news at 2pm, be back in the office by 3.30pm and you can start editing them together and writing scripts while we’re doing the drivetime news. That means planning where you are going, who you want to speak to (mums, taxi drivers, shoppers) and what your question is BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE OFFICE.
We don’t want to send you out again, but if what you’ve got is not what we explained we wanted, we will. And definitely do not ignore all our advice and travel to the farthest point of town, voxpop the wrong group of people, record it all wrong because you were “too nervous to say I was from the radio”, get lost, get stuck in traffic and return to the office at 6.30pm when I’m going home.
Because you’ll get no sympathy. (Yes, of course this has happened)
But in essence be friendly, be smart, be tuned in, know the news and have plenty of ideas not just for stories but who the team could talk to about them. Use your contacts, use your friends and family! Don’t moan about it on Twitter when you get home, or call the news editor a bitch online (yes, that’s happened too)
Don’t worry, it’ll be FINE!