Wednesday, 3 June 2015

TV News - 15 key points to pass the exam!

1.  Conventions of two or three different news programmes - because you will be expected to refer to actual examples to explain why you made certain decisions. There is no excuse for not having watched some news programmes.
Think about colour-coding your set design and lighting - just as the real shows do. What about the way we are allowed to see the busy newsroom behind glass screens, implying news is coming at us thick and fast? What about the pulsing music used at the beginning of news programmes, often during the run down of the day's news agenda to emphasise the constant flow of information in and out of the studio and between studio and viewer?
2. Mise-en-scene - think about the position (standing? Behind a desk? On a couch? - You could lie and say you conducted a survey of the target audience range and found they preferred...), dress and age of the presenter(s), If it's for a young-ish audience, your presenters should be within that age range. Remember, you might get a series of images edited together (a montage) and the images may come from a variety of sources (see the storyboard example, below). Use of screens? Use of state of the art CGI graphics, as seen on the opening credits of Sky News, for example.
3. Don't forget to use some User Generated/Citizen Journalist material - i.e. mobile phone footage - and to stress the moving camera, usually zooming in, over still images to give the effect of constant motion and busy-ness. Where possible, stress the role of the expert - used in the studio or at the scene

4.  Be careful how you draw the storyboards or website design  (or Twitter page or Facebook page - whatever comes up). remember what you are being asked to do - remember to annotate then carefully, to provide edits, camera distances, to use the studio ident, ticker, time, email, twitter links with the astons (name captions). If you don't have time to add colour, just note down what the colour scheme is.

BBC News website:

5.  Perhaps you should allow for some colloquial language to make it easier for your target audience to relate to the show. You will need to show how your programme will attract an audience.

6. What's on the other channels? News programmes? Quizzes? Hollyoaks? What about other channels? Remember, you're competing with them, which is why you need a lively set design, lively young presenters, possibilities for interactivity to give the audience a sense of ownership so it will be more likely to watch it.

7. An understanding of the way audiences consume TV news. For this you need to understand Uses and Gratifications and how a news programme can meet all FOUR needs - that is, how your programme attracts its target audience (you'll also need to talk about eMedia here). It's pretty easy, really. . Not only will you have to be able to apply Uses and Gratifications but you will also be able to talk about how your show and the way it approaches news stories appeals to/attracts its audience - i.e. uses some citizen journalist material, perhaps has a "And finally" section that consists solely of User Generated material that has been submitted by the audience (though obviously cleared by your gatekeeper).

See here:

8.  You will need to be able to apply Galtung and Ruge's News Values to your story selection to explain WHY a particular story is worth broadcasting. See here:

9. Interactivity - the exam paper will stress the importance of eMedia - that is, new technology - the internet, social networks (Twitter, Facebook, websites etc). Remember that Buzzfeed is an enormously popular website with the target audience but also remember that your brief talks about a news channel that takes pride in what it does, so you can't go that downmarket.
Note that this is the homepage; the news page has more, well, news...

You want to keep above the level of sensationalism that Buzzfeed also relies on, but you also need enough links (possibly non-straight forward news links...) to engage the audience.. You will need to reference the fact that your show has a website with a message board for people to leave comments and feel that they are contributing. A Twitter and Facebook link - and anything else you can think of. Maybe the last, "And finally" section on your programme can be one for which the show invites User Generated Content. Maybe audience tweets or emails can be invited for some stories and put on the screen, as with the Newsround examples posted below. Stress that you'd have to be selective about this because you can't do this with major tragedies.

10. 24 hour rolling news programmes need to have ticker - so make sure you draw it in. You must use the studio ident - probably top right, like Sky; perhaps the time at the top left - 24 hour clock, if you can manage it. The ticker can be used for breaking news!

11. Bias - you may need to point out the dangers of bias - look at the YouTube videos posted so you can at least refer to actual examples. You will also need to refer to the kind of regulations that exist for the BBC and non-Public Service Broadcasters (so look at Ofcom) - look at the slideshare on bias and representation below and look at the videos..

All news is biased to some extent. It's in the nature of the format. The very selection of stories implies bias against others - look at bias by selection here:

12. Does regulation always work?

The BBC is supposed to be regulated by its Public Service Broadcasting Charter; commercial channels are supposed to be regulated by Ofcom. See here:

However, there are still claims of bias.

Evidence of bias - Labour politician Tony Benn went to Orgreave, a scene of confrontation between striking miners and the police in June 1984. BBC news showed miners hurling rocks at the police and then the police counter-charging. Benn spoke to a number of people, including BBC journalists who said what really happened was that the police charged first. When he challenged the broadcast version, the BBC admitted a mistake had been made but put it down to editing under pressure.

Evidence of bias - Here's another view of the BBC from Russia Today, an English language rolling news programme sponsored by Russia that is generally critical of UK and US governmental policy - in other words, it too is biased and here it, ironically, reports bias:

Evidence of bias - However, the BBC is also criticised from the right as being too biased against them too.

The poster of this YouTube video was a UKIP supporter.

Evidence of bias - UKIP leader Nigel Farage claimed the BBC showed bias against UKIP during the 2015 election debated by filling the audience with people who didn't support his party, so it was generally critical of him! It would seem that BBC News is critcised by all political sides of the coin, despite being governed by its public service charter...

Evidence of bias - Here's Labour politician Alistair Campbell clashing with Sky News' Adam Boulton because he heels he is biased against Labour and in favour of the Conservative Party in the 2010 election:

13. The exam will undoubtedly imply that people of the target audience range no-longer prefer to access news via the television though overall, TV, especially the BBC, remains the number one source of news for the vast majority of people, and while television is still the major platform through which to access the news, the proliferation in hardware means it is increasingly accessed on a variety of other platforms, including handheld devices. BBC news remains the most popular because of its long history of broadcasting and the trust it hias established over the years. All traditional news broadcasters also use eMedia to help maintain or increase their audience. See

14. The examiners seem keen to push the idea that in the age of Web 2.0, ordinary people can become prosumers with a potential audience of millions and challenge the hold TV news (and by extension, radio and newspaper) has over the country, by using social networks to post news, by re-blogging news, by challenging stories on YouTube, by uploading their own User Generated Content onto their own blogs or social network sites. BIG problem here is that this is unregulated. Take the example above of the UKIP supporter criticising BBC coverage. Look at it on YouTube and view the half-baked comments below.

If you want to scare yourself, try looking at The Guardian website at any political or foreign news story and then look at the comments by the members of the public below the story. They range from the sensible to the totally unhinged. In the age of Web 2.0, where anyone can create a blog, get Facebook or open a Twitter account, they can act as their own gatekeeper and surely there is the danger of biased and even dangerously unhinged people 'broadcasting' their version of the news...?

15. Remember to start each part of the answer by addressing the person who sent the email/letter that will form the basis of the exam. You must respond in role e.g. Dear sir, let me tell you what I think are the three major conventions of a television news programme Dear sir/madam, here are my ideas for a TV news programme aimed at a target audience of... And so on...

TV News

Monday, 1 June 2015

Opening of a News Programme

If yiou right-click and open in a new window, you can blow them up so they're readable.
Whatever the task turns out to be, present the storyboards as YOUR idea - dead dimple: this is my idea for the opening of "Starburst". Don't throw away marks by not addressing the tasks to the person who writes the letter/email in the exam sheet.
Stress the age of the presenter - early twenties - keep it in the target audience age because the audience will find it easier to relate to someone that age.
Remember, it's a 24 hour news channel that prides itself on breaking news, so have a ticker running across the screen that will recap the current stories and allow you to switch to a breaking news story - and point this out and the reason for it in your annotation.
Presenters need to be identified by Astons (their names and, in this case, email/twitter contacts).
The studio ident (TNN) should be visible on screen and you should have the time at the top right. Look at examples from Sky News.
You may feel the need to have the word, "Newsburst" either on the screen or visible elsewhere.
Other possibilities - show the presenter sitting from the start and make sure you emphasise the fact that you can see a busy newsroom at the rear, as if the news is happening all the time and it's a busy atmosphere.
There may well be no time for colour, but all the TV news you've seen sticks to a colour scheme, so at least annotate the storyboards to indicate a colour scheme.
Suppose you're asked how to broadcast a particular story. Start with the presenter, the cut or dissolve to a montage of images with the presenter's voice over. Make sure you have some user-generated content - someone at the scene has captured images and sounds on their phone. Have a reporter in the scene and have an expert, either in the studio or on the ground (at the scene) or possibly even both - a politician at the scene and another expert in the studio. You will also need to show how you present the story to reach your audience - so it needs to be at least in part a human interest angle - interview families, show images of suffering kids, have interviews with people the same age as your target audience.
Remember that in ALL the news we watched, the camera would zoom in across still images, so try to fit in something like this - You can indicate it on the storyboards even if you can't figure out a way to draw it.
You may have to sketch out a studio design. Do you have a desk or are you going to be more informal and have a couch? Dress of the presenter - casual/smart - you don't want then too smart of looking like a slob - you have to treat your audience with respect. You need to have a bank of screens that will feature images from the day's stories. You also need to show the busy newsroom in the background. Think about a colour scheme... and stick to it.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015