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Radio Broadcast Journalist

Industries:
Radio
Personality type:
Creative
Departments:
News

The lowdown

  • Identifying, researching and presenting news stories for a wide range of audiences
  • A greater focus on news planning, researching, writing, editing and producing material originated by others than in the Radio Reporter role

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • understand and have an instinct for what makes a good news story
  • have excellent writing and storytelling skills, with the ability to tailor and adapt content for different audiences and platforms
  • be able to generate original ideas, and to think creatively about how to communicate them to audiences
  • understand how to use the voice effectively for radio
  • be curious and inquisitive, and have a willingness to ask questions but also to listen
  • be able to work calmly effectively under pressure, react quickly, and meet tight deadlines
  • be able to cope with the demands of live reporting and interviewing
  • have excellent communication skills, complemented by diplomacy, empathy and patience, along with the ability to build rapport and draw information from people
  • have the confidence and tenacity to pursue information, overcome obstacles and pitch ideas to senior colleagues
  • be able to maintain objectivity in order to be fair and balanced in the treatment of stories
  • have an interest in news and current affairs and good general knowledge
  • be able to learn how to use a variety of recording equipment and to operate different radio studios
  • have knowledge of the law, ethics and industry regulations around radio production
  • understand when it is necessary, and how to acquire, the relevant clearances and licences, including copyright and music clearances
  • understand the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures
  • have strong IT skills, including word processing and data handling - and, ideally, audio editing and image manipulation software
  • have knowledge of the radio market, different station and programme styles, and audience demographics

What does a Radio Broadcast Journalist do?

Radio Broadcast Journalists identify, research and present news stories for a wide range of audiences. They are expected to present news bulletins, record interviews, and voice news items or longer features.

While the role can overlap with that of a Reporter, in some parts of the BBC in particular the distinction between Broadcast Journalist and Reporter/Newsreader roles is greater. The focus of the Broadcast Journalist job may be more on news planning, researching, briefing reporters or presenters, writing, editing and producing material originated by others.

The job title Broadcast Journalist is used widely in the BBC where it is a specific grade and role within the career structure for BBC journalists. In commercial radio the job titles Journalist, Broadcast Journalist and Reporter are often used for fairly similar roles.

Broadcast Journalists are responsible for generating ideas, researching background data, checking sources, and pitching ideas or news items for consideration by Editors, Commissioners, or other decision makers.

They carry out thorough research into all item ideas, including suitable interviewees and locations, and relevant audio archive material. They should know how to access, evaluate and use all relevant information sources.

They prepare questions and, where possible, brief interviewees in advance. They conduct interviews and gather suitable illustrative and background material to enable them to tell a story with sound. They may also take photographs or shoot basic video footage to illustrate their story on websites.

Broadcast Journalists edit the material they have recorded and sourced, selecting relevant sections of interviews and other content, using suitable software. They must ensure that they meet the timing and duration requirements of each item, segment or programme. They may also have to present precisely-timed live on-air links into previously edited packages.

Broadcast Journalists working as news readers must be able to research, write and present news bulletins, working to precise timings and tight deadlines.

Will I need a qualification?

You don’t need a degree to become a Broadcast Journalist. However, the majority are graduates. If you do have a degree, employers won't necessarily expect it to be in a media-related subject. They may even prefer you to have a degree in another discipline, especially if followed by a postgraduate qualification in radio production.

If you are considering taking a radio course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the radio industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for a radio career:

Radio courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

If you have specialist knowledge in fields such as politics, business, science or languages, this should work in your favour.

To get onto one of the few industry trainee schemes that are out there, you’ll probably need a degree or equivalent and you should be prepared for a rigorous selection process.

If you start off in newspaper or magazine reporting, you can transfer across to radio, but you’ll need to have at least two or three years' experience as a journalist, and to have completed the journalism qualifications accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).

The undergraduate degree courses, postgraduate diplomas and MAs in Broadcast Journalism accredited by the Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC) meet the standards expected by broadcast employers in terms of the practical skills and knowledge that you will gain.

What’s the best route in?

In the main, there are three entry routes you can take into radio broadcast journalism:

  • traineeships offered by a few of the larger employers; 
  • moving into radio after first working as a print journalist; and
  • completing an accredited pre-entry degree or postgraduate qualification. 

Employers will expect you to have hands-on experience. To gain this hands-on experience, you could seek a place presenting community, student or hospital radio.

Where might the role take me?

Once in post, with enough experience and all the skills you gain, your career progression could involve moving to a larger station, to a programme with a wider audience, or from a local to a regional or national service.

It would also be possible for you to become a Reporter, a Specialist Correspondent, a Presenter, or to pursue an alternative route by becoming Bulletin or Programme Editors or by taking up programme production or management roles.

Interested? Find out more...

Websites

  • Radio Academy - industry-wide charity dedicated to promoting excellence in UK audio broadcasting and production
  • Radio Centre - industry association for UK commercial radio with a website including information and on work placements and how to get job in radio
  • BBC Academy - College of Production - information and advice on the skills required to make engaging radio, including interviews with producers in music, speech, factual and comedy about what it takes to work in radio
  • Community Media Association - the UK representative body for the community media sector, committed to promoting access to the media for people and communities
  • Student Radio Association - representative body which supports and acts on behalf of the UK student radio community 
  • Hospital Broadcasting Association - the national charity that supports and promotes hospital broadcasting in the UK 
  • BECTU - the UK media and entertainment trade union with information on pay and conditions, training, and access to individual advice on personal and contract issues
  • National Union of Journalism - the trade union for journalists in the UK and Ireland - with information on pay and conditions, training and legal advice
  • Radio Today - radio industry news site
  • Radio Now - radio station directory, listen live to many UK radio stations
  • journalism.co.uk - online journalism site including news and comment, jobs across print, broadcast and new media, a discussion forum, books and industry directory
  • journalism.org - US journalism site, Pew Research Centre's Project for Excellence in Journalism funded by a charitable trust
  • BBC College of Journalism - oversees training for BBC News staff, focusing on best practice in core skills, and providing an overview of specialist areas, legal and ethical issues, as well as a style guide

Publications

  • Broadcast - the weekly newspaper for the UK TV and radio industries
  • Media Guardian - daily industry news, trends, jobs and more

Books

  • Creating Powerful Radio, Valerie Geller ISBN-10: 0240519280
  • Essential Radio Skills, Peter Stewart ISBN-10: 0713679131
  • The Broadcast Voice, Jenni Mills ISBN-10: 0240519396
  • Presenting on TV & Radio, Janet Trewin ISBN-10: 024051906X
  • The Broadcast Journalism Handbook, Gary Hudson & Sarah Rowlands ISBN-10: 1405824344
  • Broadcast Journalism, Sixth Edition, Andrew Boyd, Peter Stewart & Ray Alexander ISBN-10: 0240810244
  • Basic Radio Journalism, Paul Chantler & Peter Stewart ISBN-10: 0240519264
  • Broadcast News Writing, Reporting, and Producing, Fourth Edition, Ted White ISBN-10: 024080659X
  • The Universal Journalist, David Randall, Third Edition ISBN-10: 0745326552
  • Journalism Principles and Practice, Tony Harcup ISBN-10: 0761974997
  • The Elements of Journalism - What Newspeople Should Know & The Public Should Expect, Bill Kovach & Tom Rosenstiel ISBN-10: 0307346706

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