If I had done my Radio Journalism course in my first year, I would have been sold out to journalism early on. (It’s a lil too late now. Hah.)
It’s the best and most useful subject at uni thus far, because I actually get to DO journalism, and in a news team! Working cohesively in a team – leveraging on each others’ different strengths and knowledge to produce the best news bulletin you can in the short time you have is rewarding.
So for the past 5 days, our team of 3 (down to 2 after one of our members got hurt in an accident on Tuesday 😦 ) produced the 7am, 8am, and 9am bulletins for the week.
The very fact that we had to get the news out there on the hour by hook or by crook, that we were the ones determining the news for that morning (to a certain level), and that it wasn’t just another internship or assignment where you could afford to be late, made the whole experience very exciting. At least I knew I was doing something way more important than say, an academic essay on what journalism is.
At Radio Adelaide, their mission is to build community and help listeners feel more connected and be more active. They have 88, 000 regular weekly listeners. The induction gave me the impression that they really believe in promoting cohesion, awareness, and progressive thinking, and I suppose that added an extra dimension to my considerations while writing the news each morning. It made me feel responsible in some ways.
Pic: One hour’s work for five minutes on air…
I think most people I come across have no idea how radio news works. They think newsreaders are DJs. Or they think the news magically writes itself and all the reader has to do is rock up and worry about reading well. But that’s actually the 5 minutes when I’m most relaxed, simply because there’s nothing you can do to the bulletin once you’re already on air.
The real fun (and challenge) is when you come in and start tossing ideas around, thinking about what’s important to your audience, deciding the importance of each piece of information(Japan radiation vs. Carbon Tax as lead story? Is it too offensive to report on Radio Adelaide that Gillard was called Bob Brown’s Bitch by rally protestors? Will the BBC have already covered Libya? Is Liz Taylor too frivolous to put in? Can we insert a lighter story somewhere?). Continuously monitoring for updates and improving each of the stories while keeping an eye on everything else is also what keeps the room buzzing.
We rotate between different roles each week, and one important aspect of working in a news team is understanding your role and learning to grow in it. For us, the producer calls the shots on what goes into the bulletin and how each story is written. The newsreader has to make sure every story flows well and also do the 7.30am and 8.30am headlines (which I didn’t know on the first day and literally had to run in to the studio and make up one of my headlines just off the top of what I knew). Usually a third person just focuses on writing and reading sport, but when Kat was away this week, I had to try to get my head around cricket and AFL for the first time.
With hilarious results. I ended up calling Ricky Ponting a BATMAN instead of a batsman and the unsuspecting sport reader read it out on three different occasions. Earlier in the week we also hilariously said on the news that Australia lost by four crickets instead of four wickets. 🙂 Oops!
Our lecturer Tony is great – he sends me smses at 7.15am to correct my mispronunciations after listening to the 7am read, and really just offers as much input as he can. He says I’m getting a bit of personality into my newsreads, which is good (and also enjoyable for me)! I think I’ve just improved so much as a journalist and slowly I am able to see myself doing well in the news business. Andy, my mentor at church, sent me an email after my read on Thursday saying "You were excellent. I was cheering you on (out loud) in my car as I drove to work!!". It made me laugh…although he later told me he was also laughing at my "half-Malaysian, half-American, weird accent"! 🙂
Anyway, just also wanted to say special thanks to the Wee sisters who live near the station — they very kindly provided their apartment as my Bed and Breakfast so I could get up a bit later during my radio week. I appreciated it heaps, because each night after checking the news on my phone at 10pm I just fell sound asleep.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Tony, an area I really want to improve in when I’m writing my news stories:
Nobody becomes a journalist to champion the cause of Objectivity. We all push our own agendas…how we think the world can become a better place. You’ve also got to be careful and really examine the agendas behind some of the press releases and stories that come in.