Friday, 28 March 2014

Task of News Reporters and Production Journalists

No, journalists do not always necessarily roam around with pens wedged in the flap of their ears as many do in India. It goes on to show how we 'optimize' our entire anatomical systems, before pursuing the big story — you will never see Usain Bolt set the track on fire with a bag on his back. 

Alright, that was a joke.   

So, what do news reporters and production journalists do?

In an age of intrigue, corruption and manipulation, and dubiously economical ‘interests’ such as ours, the task of digging for the truth is always about calling a spade a spoon. Primarily, the role of a news reporter is to collect and disseminate information about current events, people, trends, and issues.

Work Production Journalists Do

Production Journalists / Editorial Personnel are editors, copy editors, photo editors, proofreaders, layout designers, DTPs ETC

Production Journalists are the ones who turn your office’s ugly toads into Page-3 princesses. Production journalists are the editors, sub-editors, copywriters and copy editors, photo editors and "evaluators," proofreaders and language editors and language "formatters," Best Practice managers, video editors, graphics or layout designers, webmasters and all such personnel specializing in certain areas of technical production (More on them later).

They are the ones who make sure every detail is accurate, comprehensible and systematic. They are the ones who make sure a reporter’s English does not sound as a Baboon-and-duck crossbreed; wrinkles are blurred out; the superfluous ones are banished to the dustbin. In other words, production journalists are the polishers, the repairers and the make-you-look-cool-ers.

As you can see, they are professionals with specialized, applicable skills and expertise in various areas of production: language and editing, designing, analysis and knowledge of multi-media platforms and applications.

For instance, editors are responsible for every aspect of content development, news production, and daily news operations. They oversee the day-to-day newsroom activities, from selecting news content to editing them, checking reporters’ drafts, coordinating pages and their designs, or assigning reporters.

Likewise, each to his own, copy editors edit drafts submitted by reporters; photo editors take charge of the photography section or oversee implementation of aesthetic standards in designs; proofreaders ensure that there are no errors in the reports and stories before the contents go to the print; layout designers design pages of newspapers ETC.  

As you can see now, production journalists are the nerds. In modern Media corporate, Production Journalists are some of the highest-paid skill-resource people.

Work Field Journalists / Reporting Journalists do

Field Journalists or Reporting Journalists are reporters, correspondents, stringers, Freelance desk reporters ETC 

They are journalists who engage in actual information-gathering activities. They are reporters by definition and job profile. Reporters witness events, or research a matter of interest, and present the collated information for the public.

EXAMPLE: A real reporter's typical day, in a nutshell 

(And I do not mean those sit-in-government-ceremonies-reporters but real reporters who come up with their own stories):

Reporter ABC learns that the chief minister of Nagaland has become the President of the United States. Nobody knows yet. This is the scoop of the century for Indian journalism! (In the media, a scoop is a major, exclusive story, and one your rival newspapers do not have of course.)

So Reporter ABC asks around. He calls up important government officials who might just know the truth. He meets with public leaders and interviews them, asking them whether or not they were aware that the chief minister of Nagaland had become the US president.

Reporter ABC also finds ways to access important government reports, or documents looking for clues in them that might just indicate that the whole story was true. His hard work pays off - a government official tells him that, yes, Nagaland's chief minister had now become the US president.

Our excited Reporter A goes to office, writes down his findings in the form of a news draft ("story") and submits the draft to the copy editors. The copy editors correct the draft, make necessary changes, verifies all the details as facts, and submit the draft report to the editor. 

The editor likes Reporter ABC's report. The editor gives Reporter ABC's story as the headline in the ensuing edition of the newspaper. The world then comes to know that the chief minister of Nagaland has truly become the president of the US. 

There, you got the idea.  

Distinct from the aspects of production are the task of reporters. A reporter's task is primarily to gather information for awareness or interest of the public. The 'matter of interest' could be anything from hard political news and current events to human-interest stories and, sometimes, painful bulldung that masquerades as important news. Our bad.

Chores, chores and chores 

News reporters travel, meet people, hold interviews or simply investigate issues, to keep the public informed about important issues or events. They obtain information by way of investigation, or by gathering information from people (the 'sources'). The methods reporters employ to gathering news and information include personal interviews, wire services (news transmitted via satellite facilities), news briefings, or even public gossip if you have news sense.

Reporters equipped with noses talented at sniffing out stories from thin air normally fly ahead faster than the ones that sit in government functions.
News and current affair addicts, bookworms, conversation mongers and not-easily-impressed reporters usually become more successful than do unflattering "government speech" groupies (reporters who attend / write only about events / from events).

The news reporter is a veritable sniffer. He seeks answers, and researches an event of possible interest for the public (Investigative journalism). What he writes (called "story" or a news report) is presented in various formats of mass media. The formats vary, from print (newspapers) to electronic television, radio, podcast), or digital (web content). You may want to read about the Top Qualities of Successful Journalists.  

Talented noses know that mundane stuff going about town is usually pregnant with big exclusive stories. 'Breaking news' is not always about anything that happens at a location or time – the bigger stories are usually the ones that had demanded a closer examination. It is taking a magnifying glass, or best of all, finding lines where none was initially there in the first place. Now you know why a former-fisherman-turned-successful-journalist said, “Hey, something smells fishy.”

On the pressure scale, news reporters are the media’s version of medical personnel. They have to be on call always when an edition has not yet moved to the production shed. It is a high stress job – odd hours, constant stress from deadline stories have to meet, constant interaction and meeting with people, gathering information and the lot.

However, may I remind you that enterprising reporters zoom up the ladder faster with one relevant story than reporters who write 1,000 stories about some ribbon-cutting bullblah?

©2012 Al Ngullie ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This article contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.

So what is Journalism? Role, Classification and Types of Journalists

In Do You Have The Nose Journalism Demands? you were introduced to journalism, and the reasons the profession interest young people. In the first article, we ran through the husk of journalism as an institution. The article also slightly touched the economics of it (salary, high public profile ETC). We also examined the husk of the Elements of Journalism, a set of principles that envisages to govern the actions of popular media et cetera.

In this post, the second, let us take a look at the practical aspects of journalism as a professional engagement, the role journalism plays in a society, and yes, an introduction to the various 'types' of journalism, and the types of journalists in the industry. 

So what is Journalism?

Broadly speaking, Journalism refers to the work of a journalist in informing current events, issues and trends. Its more predisposed role is in being an independent monitor for good citizenry. Journalism plays three significant roles:
  • Interpreter
  • Evaluator'
  • Disseminator'

Contemplating the state of journalism in Nagaland today – the overriding tendency to appease or give in to pressure (read fear) – I have no qualm in saying we all regularly wet our pants for no good reason other than the journalist (or a pansy-bottomed Naga management) would choose convenience over principle. ‘Interpreter’ and ‘Evaluator’ as intrinsic roles do not exist in the Naga media. Therefore, you are merely a 'Disseminator'. I hope you go beyond that handicap.  

Generally, the media plays the role of ‘filter’ for society and citizens to create positive actions, and to interpret their objective to build society, or influence a policy, for instance. We wonder about the pitiful state of Nagaland today, the people and their social appendages; why they still swallow without protest whatever muck is fed to them by powers-that-be? Agreed, we do apparently play the role of the filter – sieve out all the truths and dump the rubbish into the print. I hope young Nagas would lead a movement for change, and for citizen discourse.


To put it simply, there are two broad classifications of Journalism according to the nature of platforms employed to disseminate information: Print Journalism and Electronic Journalism. 

Newspapers, magazines and even journals fall within the domain of Print Journalism. Electronic Journalism encompasses multi-media platforms such as Television, Radio and the Internet media. 

Journalism and Journalists: Types of

Political shindigs and the modern man’s insufferable obsession with politics and tragedies have reduced journalism to a pitifully parochial stereotype. Eight out of 10 think journalism is limited to hard political concerns. 

Some years ago, I was informed that some press organizations in Nagaland were talking about calling only reporters as ‘journalists’ while production personnel (management, editors and editorial personnel, layout designers, cartoonist ETC) should not be called so.

My reaction was irritation: We need to do something completely different occasionally, say, look out our bamboo huts and experience the world – or at least read a 100-page book at least once every 10 years. Perhaps impulsive and ill-informed interpretation of some vested advocates not only failed to locate the trees but also miss the entire forest. For instance, what of editors who possess experience as reporters?

Broadly, there are two classifications of journalists:

  •  Reporting Journalists: (Reporters, Correspondents, Bureau personnel, Stringers ETC) and
  • Production Journalists: (Editors, sub-editors, copy editors, managers and management personnel, language managers and 'formatters', photo editors, graphic or layout designers, webmasters, technical personnel ETC).    

So naturally, the types of journalists are consistent with the several more types of journalism besides the more-fundamental news Journalism. ‘News Journalism’ also encompasses the cultural and artistic dimensions of an organized society (For example., arts and entertainment, fashion and food and travel). The New York Times writers’ website lists the various types of contemporary Journalism:
  •          Business and Finance journalism +
  •          Environmental journalism
  •          Citizen Journalism
  •          Sports journalism  
  •          Investigative journalism
  •          ‘Photo Journalism’*
  •          Celebrity Journalism + and
  •         Fashion journalism +
+ Business and Finance journalism, Celebrity Journalism and Fashion Journalism are three of the highest-earning media professions in the world, particularly in the West and Europe where even journalists in the two beats with even 2 years experience usually earn a six-figure monthly.

* The increased interest in the fine arts has also prospered what has rapidly gained mainstream recognition as Photojournalism.

I will take you through the basic tasks and work of news reporters in the next post. Read it here: What Do Journalists Do? Basic Tasks of News Reporters and Production Journalists.

©2012 Al Ngullie ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This article contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval systemwithout express written permission from the author / publisher.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Do you have the nose Journalism demands?

A senior executive of The Morung Express, who participated in an exposition on Journalism in Northern Ireland recently, narrated to me a starkly fascinating anecdote: Celebrated reporter Eammon Mallie dared the gathered journalists with a query. “Why do people become journalists?”

You could almost hear unabashed and unworried answers leap from the journalists’ thoughts in response to the query. 
  • Fight corrupt governments
  • Encourage citizenship. Be the voice of the people
  • Be the ultimate microphone for Freedom of Speech 
  • Change the world
  • Block Climate Change 
  • Impress that gorgeous girl next door and et cetera
None so.

So why do people become journalists?

“Vanity! Vanity! Vanity!” Eammon Mallie thundered.

Today, Journalism – print, broadcast and electronic – is among the world’s more-celebrated careers, especially for the educated young. It is the prestige and romance of fame and grind, the opportunities and dangers (depending on how willing you are at risking your bottom on the frying pan). It is the high-competition and thrust for excellence that could span from big scoops to bigger trouble.

Placements in the journalism industry count by the thousands for major newspapers, broadcast and the online news corporate every year. Thousands of the young are opting for Journalism as a career for or either of, two basic reasons: 

(a) Passion to work for the people and society and 

(b) high earnings and the fame-factor. 

My money is on the second, though. No offense.

The People & Society Factor:

Do you wonder why Journalism sits in the same front row as Democracy and nation building? Even someone with the IQ of a cabbage knows that enlightened society has pinned prestige on journalists in that the role of the latter largely encompasses the universal pursuits for positive change, nation building, of peace and growth, and the universal aspiration for a progressive society.

High-earnings & Career Growth

Read the second and third sentence of the fifth paragraph for a gist. If low-IQ gets in the way start from the first paragraph again. 

The stuff about Journalism

Volumes and library-thick discourses throughout history offer a good idea on what characterizes journalism, and the role of journalists. I love what the feisty Nagaland Page’s chief Monalisa Changkija said of journalism during an interaction: Old-school journalism – Just to speak the plain truth. No drunken SMS English, no convoluted linguistic buffoonery, and certainly no likened steaming pile of bureaucratic bulldung, except for the plain truth.  

Considering the immutable changes in value-moderation, contemporary journalism has undergone an almost hedonistic makeover. ‘Truth’ today almost sounds a feeble defense to shut up the proletarian purists and feed the socialist-tweaking elitist. Global economic compulsions and handy sociopolitical tensions have forced new paradigms in value-moderation. However, the reality remains that truth is just plain truth. That is what journalism was all about.

Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel’s The Elements of Journalism summarizes the intrinsic values of journalism. The book is the one authority for reference for all aspiring journalists – with a reminder that all journalists are humans, and are therefore essentially biased.

The Elements of Journalism lists a number of imperatives that represent the very spirit of Journalism, its purpose and goal. The elements are not necessarily exceptions nor are they rules by design. They are more of a rationalization of the paradigms. I believe they represent the central tenets of purpose, rather than intent, completely. They are pragmatic standards for newsmen I say. The elements are:

  • The first contract of Journalism and Journalists is with Truth
  • Their first loyalty is to the Citizen and to Citizenry
  • Journalists are independent, and must maintain independence from any influence, individual, organization or government
  • Journalism is independent check-and-balance, the monitor
  • Journalism should provide the public a platform to opine and criticize
  • Journalists must be allowed to exercise personal conscience (I believe this element supplements point ‘e’ by principle and not merely complement it).

Now that you have an idea about journalism in this introductory article, we shall now examine journalism as an institution and a professional engagement. Read about it in detail here:  So What is Journalism? Role, Classification and Types of Journalists.

Blogger has no pagination features for long posts. For the moment, separate blog posts are the only options. I hope you bear with the inconvenience of having to leap-skip from one blog post to another. Thank you for visiting. If you have any questions, please state it in the comments. I shall be more than glad to try answering your queries. 

©2012 Al Ngullie ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This article contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.