Radio News: Definition, Scope and Characteristics.
There are just as many definitions .of news as there are books and scholars on journalism. Same is the case with the definition of radio news. However all of them emphasize different aspects of the subject. There is something to learn from each one of them. Starting from the common phrase ‘when a dog bites a man it is not a news; when a man bites a dog, it is a news’ we can go through dictionaries and encyclopedias to know as many definitions. In the present day world news can also be an account of an idea or a precise description of a problem. News is current information. But news can also be made out of the indications of what may happen in the near future.
No matter how one interprets the definition of news, a good reliable prediction or a speculation must surely be based on ‘current information’ , that is news.
With the passage of time the evolution of the definition has been changing. It has different meaning for different persons and also on different media. Something a news for a newspaper may not be as important or of no significance for radio or television.
One of the most suitable definitions of news according to broadcasting point of view is “a new piece of information about a significant and recent event that effects the listeners and is of interest to them”.
A radio news story is written for the ear, it is not meant for reading. A radio story is also not for any particular segment of the society.lt is neither targeted for any special ethnic group nor is limited to any geographical boundary. Its drafting is therefore more ticklish than the print or visual media.
The most important stylistic principle in radio news writing is simplicity. If the language is too complex, it is possible that the story will not be completely understood by the audience. The radio listener can not retrieve lost information by reading a sentence or story. If the story is not understood the first time around, it would be lost to the listener for ever. Radio news writers generally apply a few rules of their own to help them get information across in the best (simplest form): keep the sentence short, avoid complex sentences or construction and use basic words not colloquialisms.
News gathering is a specialized job which needs lot of skill. It reaches the news room mostly in four ways, through staff reporters, monitoring of foreign broadcasts, through news agencies or press releases, hand outs etc. News falls into the news room from all the sources and at all the time and used then and there because there are plenty of news bulletins as against news papers which are printed once each day. The staff reporter is not only
responsible to collect his own stories but also generally asked to confirm doubtful stories filed by news agencies or caHed to elaborate the message contained in press releases or handouts.
The information wings of the Federal and provincial governments work as pubic relations departments of the government and their ministers. Every day these agencies issue a bunch of hand outs containing official news. This include reports of cabinet meetings, statements of the government functionaries, stories of development work and so on In special cases and unusual situation press notes are issued to explain official position or point of view. The editor uses his own discretion and professional skill in using them on the basis of actual news value. These materials are not office orders but only information messages from official quarters and should be treated as such purely on merit. The press notes are to be taken more seriously and cautiously because they are issued in special cases and generally contain serious information. These too should also be properly edited and summarized according to the available space.
The news agencies, both national and international, are another important source of information. Perhaps the British news agency ‘Reuters’ is the oldest. Other major international news agencies are the French news agency, AFP; the American agency, AP; the Chinese agency, XINHUA; the Russian, ITAR-TASS; and the German news agency, DPA. Most of the countries have there own national news agencies. For instance Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) and the Press Trust of India (PTI). The major news agencies have their own separate agreements for the exchange of news with Other international agencies thus filling the gap where they ace not present.
In addition to APP there are many other news agencies in the private sector. Among them. the most’ significant is the Pakistan Press International PPI. Other significant in the field are NNI, (the Network News International) PPA, (the Pakistan Press International agency) and KPJ (Kashmir Press International!).
Art and Scope of Reporting for Radio:
Reporting is the art of news collection and filing dispatches to the news room for suitable consumption in the bulletins. In radio a reporter has got to be extra quick and accurate. The reporter has to keep his ears to the ground for possible rumblings. There are many areas which sometimes, without much of a warning, may produce headline news. Lot of skill and craftsmanship is needed to cover political events while the economic front is quite less hazardous. In addition to political, economic, sports and development news the door of investigative reporting is also *there which how ever is not very common phenomenon in developing countries. A new spirit of enquiry and criticism has to be developed to break some ground in the field of investigative reporting.
The reporting for radio is somewhat different from that of newspapers and television. In Radio, it is always a race against time and demands, special skill and high sense of responsibility. Normal reporting assignments are easy to handle but specialized one require special knowledge, skill and training. For instance a parliamentary reporter can’t justify his job unless he knows the rules of business and procedural matters of the House. Similarly sports coverage is not justified without basic know-how of the game which is to be reported.
Perhaps far less hazardous are stories of economic front. Here too. there are areas of reporting which are far more important in Asia than in industrialized , societies in the West. In many countries shortage of consumer goods and food grains. lead to hoarding, black marketing and other malpractices. As an area of reporting, no less important is smuggling of essential commodities.
Even on his own a young reporter can discover almost any number of areas of reporting. But what is important is to see their relevance to the socio economic conditions-underlying the pattern. The reporter is supposed to know his audience He is also supposed to anticipate and work under pressure and speed.
The art of reporting is the ability to simplify comlex matters and make them meaningful to the listeners. A good reporter is inquisitive, cultivative his own source gets all facts asking a lot of questions and always watches for the angle. Rumours, speculations and opinion are outside the domain of a responsible reporter.