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.


  1. LOL Nagaland's CM becoming the President of USA! Thanks Al, that was the most interesting way to explain it. Now I know what to say when my professor asks me about the methods reporters use when looking for news

  2. Whre's Nagaland??