PRIMARY CARE & NEWS MEDIA
A MEMBER’S GUIDE TO JOURNALISM, RADIO AND BROADCAST 1
“Propaganda ends where dialogue begins. You must talk to the media, not to the programmer. To talk to the programmer is like complaining to a hot dog vendor at a ballpark about how badly your favorite team is playing.” - Marshall McLuhan “We have to remember to whom the airwaves belong, and we must put as great an emphasis on the nurturing of the human personality as we can. I believe that those of us who are the producers and purveyors of television – or video games or newspapers or any mass media – I believe that we are the servants of this nation.” - “Mister” Fred Rogers “If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.” - Wes “Scoop” Nisker “Don’t hate the media. Become the media.” - Jello Biafra
TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction About this guide Newspapers Glossary Media Ethics Content and coverage Interviewing News Radio Glossary Media Ethics Content & Coverage Interviewing Television News Glossary Media Ethics Content and coverage Interviewing The Internet and News Media Newspapers News Radio Television News Social Media Good Night, and Good Luck
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Introduction Whether discussing news, advertising, or the Internet, it seems that the term “media” has taken on an overwhelmingly negative connotation. Although many valid criticisms are leveled against “the media” these days, it is important to maintain a proper perspective. The freedom of the press, as guaranteed to us in the First Amendment, is vital to our democracy, and we are fortunate to live in a nation that has afforded us such extraordinary liberty. We can all agree that despite its service at defending and exercising free speech, the mass news media is not perfect. Part of the problem lies in the lack of participation by your average citizen – indeed, most of us are afraid to become involved in the process. Writing a letter to your local paper is frightening enough – being interviewed live on television, in front of thousands of viewers, can make the most confident person nervous. Regardless, the media and the audience it serves needs more of you – more input from family physicians. If the purpose of the news is, in the most basic sense, to inform, what resource is better equipped to educate the general public on matters
of health care and wellness in the 21st century? You have unique insight into some of the most important issues of our time. Given the fragmented nature of health care in the new millennium, your voice is crucial in fostering a well-informed society. Here’s the catch: There is only so much time in a TV broadcast, only so many column inches in a newspaper. If you don’t seize the opportunity to publicly discuss the things that matter to you and your patients, be assured that someone else will, and there’s no guarantee they will serve your interests or those of your patients. The purpose of this guide is to give you – the family physician – the information you need to participate and utilize the news media in a meaningful, effective manner. We’ll take a look at how information and interviews become a finished product for broadcast across multiple platforms. We’ll also discuss strategies for maximizing the impact of your messages. Before long, you’ll be a media expert – or at least you won’t get sweaty palms every time you are called for an interview.
About this guide
Our previous PAFP Big 3 media guides, Primary Care & Social Media and Primary Care & Advanced Social Media, focused on three important social media tools to help you make the most out of being a family physician in a “connected” world. In Primary Care & News Media, there are infinite angles we could potentially discuss when dealing with subject matter so broad. So let’s take just a couple paragraphs to set the terms of discussion.
may work, and how you can expect the finished product to look. We won’t go into too much technical detail – we’ll keep the explanations mercifully brief. Primary Care & News Media is a primer to the world of traditional media and public relations, not a 400-level college course on broadcast journalism.
The ultimate goal of this publication is for it to be something of a “living guide” that This publication is split into four separate can be added to and amended to suit parts. The first three sections will deal both your needs and the changing media with print media, broadcast radio, and landscape. However, the fundamentals broadcast television, while the last section should remain the same, at least as far will tie it back to the World Wide Web as a family physician’s role is concerned: while touching on the impact of social good media relations skills aren’t difficult media. In each section, we’ll discuss what to learn, and once you know a few simple kinds of stories make appropriate pieces tricks, you may even discover your interest for the format we’re exploring, how the and appreciation of mass media growing. interviewing and newsgathering processes
NEWSPAPERS Extra, extra! Read all about it
What is a newspaper? A newspaper, sometimes called a journal, paper, periodical, record, review, and a whole slew of other terms, is a document containing the latest news and information as it pertains to a particular community. Generally speaking, it is most often made up of multiple pages broken into multiple content sections covering specific topics, like local news, business, culture, health, and – everyone’s favorite – the comics section.
What will we learn? We’re going to examine a newspaper visually and go over a simply glossary of terms – nothing too complicated; we just want to give you an idea of what you’re looking at when you see a newspaper. We’re also going to discuss what kinds of stories make good newspaper material – that is, what is a reporter looking to accomplish when she goes out to cover the news? Finally, we’ll talk about what your role might be in the exciting world of print journalism!
NEWSPAPERS & HEALTH CARE But before all that … why should we care about newspapers? You may have heard a tiny little rumor that the newspaper industry is dying. Just kidding – of course you’ve heard that, many times and always loudly. So why will we be dedicating more pages to this section than any others? Shouldn’t we just skip it all together? The truth is, regardless of whether or not newspapers are going the way of the Dodo, New Coke and the AMC Gremlin (print journalism is likely here to stay for many more years), many of the fundamental elements of all news media trace their roots back to the daily paper – from the writing style and verbiage used to the way photojournalists frame their shots. You can easily do a quick Google search and learn about the history of the newspaper in a more entertaining and thorough way than we have space for in this guide, from Hearst to Sulzberger, Jr. and everybody in between. Right now, let’s concern ourselves with the function of a newspaper and its relationship to the public. More people than you realize still have that same old morning routine: sitting with a cup of coffee to read the local daily. The operative word here is “local” – partially because, by and large, you are most likely
to be contacted by the news organization in your own “back yard” than the New York Times. But there’s a little more to the importance of local newspapers than that, and if you sit down to think about it, you’ll come to a pretty quick conclusion: in a world of online ordering, MP3s and streaming videos, newspapers are some of the only physical mass media we interact with on a daily basis. Whether your teen daughter was crowned homecoming queen or your uncle just celebrated the grand opening of his hardware store, newspapers make excellent keepsakes, especially because the local news has a vested interest in the goings-on of its community (we’ll discuss that later when we talk about newsworthiness). A local daily is a fabulous way to stay connected to one’s own hometown. While the Internet gets bigger, bolder and more complex, newspapers have managed to stay mostly the same. A newspaper is still an incredibly competitive technology – its battery never runs out, there are no popup ads, and you don’t have to turn it off when your plane is ready for liftoff. Not too bad!
NEWSPAPERS Extra, extra! Read all about it Glossary To the right, you’ll see a mockup of a newspaper. You certainly know what a newspaper looks like, and you’re bound to know most of the components we’re examining. But it might help to take a little refresher, so let’s jump right in: 1. Byline. The byline tells the reader the name of the story’s writer. Often the position of the writer will be listed (for example, “Reporter” or “Staff Writer”). According to The Associated Press Stylebook, nicknames are only to be used if they’re specifically requested by the writer. 2. Copy. It may seem obvious, but the “copy” or text of a story makes up the majority of a newspaper’s content. News writing adheres to a strict writing style for maintenance of consistency and quality, from the way that the story’s content is structured to the punctuation used. The Associated Press Stylebook is the bible of style rules for many news organizations, but these rules are often changed or amended to fit the specific newsroom or audience of each organization. 3. Date. One could argue the date is the most important part of the newspaper. After all, if it isn’t new, it isn’t “news,” right? 4. Dateline. The dateline tells the reader where the story happened and the date it occurred. For taking up such a small part of a newspaper’s volume, there are many rules about datelines, including which ones “stand alone” (without a state or country name following) and how datelines differ between regions. 5. The fold. The fold is the imaginary line that divides the top half of the newspaper from the bottom half, roughly corresponding to the very center of the newspaper, where the paper is literally folded. The most important stories of the day are placed “above the fold,” for the most part.
NEWSPAPERS Extra, extra! Read all about it 3
NEWSPAPERS Extra, extra! Read all about it Glossary 6. Headline. Extra, extra! Read all about it! The biggest headline on the front page is reserved for the most important story of the day, as decided by the hardworking journalists who operate the newspaper. You can always feel free to disagree about the lead story’s “importance” by writing a letter to the editor – maybe it’ll even be published in the opinion-editorial (“op-ed”) section! Sometimes the headline is written by the writer of the story; other times, editors or other members of the news team write them. 7. Index. Most newspapers, but not all, will have an index detailing what’s inside by section, from sports to obituaries. 8. Masthead. The masthead is that nice, fancy big title of the newspaper at the top. It might say “The Patriot-News,” like Harrisburg’s thrice-a-week paper, or “The Washington Times” like the paper to the left does. 9. Photo, photo credit, and caption. Newspaper photographers, also called “photojournalists,” are vital to the success of any good newspaper (although The Chicago Sun-Times did lay off all its full-time photographers in the spring of 2013 to much criticism and debate). Good photographs can make or break a paper – we all know how many words a picture’s worth. The caption of a photo is subject to the same strict style rules as the copy of a story is. 10. Pull-quote. The pull-quote is a box or a graphic within a news story containing a portion of the story itself, but at a larger font size. It serves as another entry point into the story for a reader – if the headline or the photo doesn’t grab you, the pull quote helps to put it into context in an engaging way. 11. Sub-headline. Many, but not all, stories in a newspaper contain a sub-headline to augment the main headline, usually in the same typeface at a smaller font point.
NEWSPAPERS Extra, extra! Read all about it 8 6
Not pictured in this example. 9
NEWSPAPERS Extra, extra! Read all about it Glossary
This is by no means a comprehensive list of what you’ll find on the front page of a newspaper – these are just the most common features. Some if not most newspapers will contain advertisements on the front page (at least they don’t “pop up,” right?). Others have websites and email addresses, even QR codes that you can scan with your mobile device to visit the newspaper’s website. And others still have weather information, “teases” or excerpts for features inside the paper, coupons for
local restaurants or stores, opinion polls, charts, graphs, and so much more. It’s also important to note – as anyone who’s ever picked up a copy of The New York Post is well aware – that while the newspaper mockup inside this guide is what a newspaper traditionally looks like, different newspapers have different formats. The term “broadsheet” applies to papers that look like The New York Times or USA Today, while those that look like
the Post or The Philadelphia Daily News are printed in what’s known as a “tabloid” or “compact” style. (Keep in mind, the term “tabloid” doesn’t necessarily mean ancient prophecies or bat boy! When we’re talking about newspaper format, “tabloid” refers solely to the composition of the paper, not to the content within.)
As the art and graphic design community often says, “Form follows function.” The design is merely a vehicle for the information. A newspaper is a print medium (which is to say, a visual medium), but the look of the newspaper is primarily designed to help attract the reader to the reason most people pick up newspapers to begin with: the content itself. We will You can take a look at more than 800 of get to that in a second, but first, let’s take the current day’s front pages on the News- a quick detour to discuss media ethics. eum website – an excellent web resource.
NEWSPAPERS Extra, extra! Read all about it Media ethics, pt. 1 Journalism ethics is a wide and complex field of research; nevertheless, in each section of this publication, we’re going to examine a term related to news ethics and determine how it affects coverage and why it is important. The first word we’re going to discuss – “newsworthiness.” There are varying definitions, but we’re going to define the term as far as we’re concerned thusly: newsworthiness (noun) how a community’s attitudes toward and interest in certain events and topics correlate with and inform the media’s coverage of those events and topics. That is to say, it’s a “transaction” of sorts. Now, the interests of a newspaper and its audience don’t always sync up perfectly, but the idea is that the consumers are the ultimate gatekeepers. (For as much as the adage “If it bleeds, it leads” reflects what a news organization considers newsworthy, it says just as much about the audience willing to tune in.) Health-related topics are nothing new for newspapers – your local paper likely has an entire section dedicated to
health care. It’s very much a win-win for news organizations to spend effort and resources on health care: there’s never a lack of news, and people are always going to be concerned with what they put into their bodies, how to stay healthy, the latest hospital technology, legislation that affects what happens at the doctor’s office. We could rightly consider health care to be among the most newsworthy of topics, given the definition we’ve crafted above. You can say plenty about the rapidly changing health care environment, but one of the big benefits is that it has made health care and wellness a permanent part of the news cycle. That’s good for patients, and that’s good for you.
NEWSPAPERS Extra, extra! Read all about it Content and coverage Almost all the content in a newspaper contains the “Five W’s and H” – who, what, why, where, when and how. We can generally categorize news pieces into two groups that contain those elements: 1. Hard news. “Hard news” is the term used to describe timely pieces that follow what is often called the “inverted pyramid” news format. That means the most important information goes on the top. Not only is this convenient for the browser who doesn’t have time to read more than the headline and the first (called “lead” or “lede”) paragraph, but it makes it easy for editors to cut content from the bottom of the piece to fit into the paper. 2. Features. “Features” contain all of the elements of a hard news story, but the piece is structured like a narrative rather than the “inverted pyramid” of hard news. It’s typically more detailed than a standard hard news piece and may be longer than an average story or article in a paper. Some people consider features more engaging and interesting to read.
NEWSPAPERS Extra, extra! Read all about it Content and coverage When researching, interviewing for and writing a health-related piece for a newspaper – or for stories on most other topics – reporters want information from multiple sources. Bias can crop up anywhere, not merely on the political spectrum, and the vast majority of people in the news business take fairness extremely seriously. To achieve a balance, a reporter must do much more than interview two people on opposite sides of an issue and call it a day. Nevertheless, the news industry, by its very nature, is constrained at lease to some extent by deadlines. How does a reporter strike that delicate balance between timeliness, accuracy and impartiality? Surveying a random, average person (sometimes referred to man-on-thestreet or “MOS” reporting) is excellent for many reasons and in many cases. It allows for a certain amount of diversity and heterogeneity in ideas and opinions; it also gives the media consumer an approximation of how people “just like them” feel about a certain topic. The free press exists for the public – a MOS interview allows the public to collaborate in the process.
But this isn’t to say that a representative of the common woman or man is always random. Consider a breaking news scenario – a robbery, maybe, or a vehicle collision. The public’s collaboration is circumstantial – the reporter wants to talk to an eyewitness, not merely interview someone who heard about the incident secondhand. This might seem like a rudimentary media practice, but it’s just another example of the public’s important role in the newsgathering and news-making processes. Of course, sometimes perspective is required by an individual with a specific type of education or credential – an expert. This source has particular expertise pertinent to the story the reporter is writing and serves as a valuable source of information and detail. Sure, some of the information an expert can provide may easily be found online, but reporters don’t avoid Google out of laziness – it’s because the audience would rather hear information from the source than from the journalist. The “show, don’t tell” principle applies here. Let’s briefly discuss the paradigm we’ve described above in terms of a health
NEWSPAPERS Extra, extra! Read all about it Content and coverage care topic. Imagine that pertussis rates are rising dramatically in Anywhere, Pennsylvania. A reporter may show up on Main Street to interview a few people about the outbreak – a quick canvassing of local opinion and awareness. Then perhaps the reporter heads to Anywhere Elementary School, where many of the children have become ill, and she interviews the principal. Finally, she visits Anywhere Family Practice to talk to a
family physician about pertussis – warning signs, symptoms, vaccinations and boosters. This scenario and situations like it are not uncommon. You’ll often be sought to add information and much-needed context to a topic that requires an expert such as yourself. It might sound like a tall task – but it’s as simple (not to mention as enjoyable!) as you make it.
NEWSPAPERS Extra, extra! Read all about it Interviewing If you’re asked and agree to be interviewed by a journalist, you’ll discover that your interests and theirs aren’t so far apart. You’re busy, and so are they – you both operate on deadlines. You both work difficult and often unconventional schedules. You’re probably not going to make a fortune, become famous, and own four homes and two yachts as a family physician, and few in the news industry reach the point of celebrity. A journalist’s ethos is somewhat similar to that of a family physician’s: you do it because you love people. You love stories. You love helping others.
know when you’ll be available and ask if that timeframe works for them. The vast majority of the time, they’re happy to conduct the interview whenever it’s most convenient for you.
One major benefit of a newspaper interview is that it can be conducted over the telephone from the comfort of your home or work office. Even if the interview is in person, you don’t have to worry if your hair or makeup is perfect, although it’s certain you always look great anyway! (Note: If your interview is in person, be sure to ask if a photograph will be taken and ensure you’re camera-ready.) The interview process generally starts with Nevertheless – especially if the interview a phone call or email inquiry. Newspaper is over the telephone where context clues reporters have varying deadlines, from only come from your words, tone, cadence having to turn a 400-word piece in a single and intonation – be sure to speak clearly. day to weeks or months on a feature or If you fumble over your words or say enterprise piece. Always ask what the something that you’d like to rephrase, feel reporter’s deadline is – it will help you free to let the reporter know and they’ll ascertain whether you have enough be pleased to oblige. time to prepare for the interview, not to mention the time it takes for the interview itself! If you need a bit of time to research and make preparations, let the journalist
NEWSPAPERS Extra, extra! Read all about it Interviewing Weâ€™re going to refer to the five tips for a successful interview in each section of this guide, specially tailored to the medium weâ€™re discussing. If you forget everything else this guide covers, remember these, and a good interview experience is virtually guaranteed!
NEWSPAPERS Extra, extra! Read all about it Five tips for a successful interview 1. Be conversational. The audience for a responses come out more naturally. newspaper is composed of different The reporter will be pleased that you’re ages, backgrounds, levels of education trying to understand the focus of their – just like your patients! So talk to the piece, and it will help you to answer more media like you’re talking to one of them. effectively. Be thorough and accurate, but remember the three C’s: conversational, clear 4. “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable and concise. Remember, a newspaper answer. Listen, no one knows everything. reporter has to transcribe what you say, Sometimes journalists are looking for so speak slowly and mind your diction! a quote on an angle that you can’t comment on right away. There’s no shame 2. Think of what you want to say in saying “I don’t know – can I check and beforehand. The interviewer will let get back to you on that?” (Remember you know what the subject of his or her what we discussed before – get back to piece is beforehand – and they’ll have the journalist before his or her deadline!) a pretty good idea of what they want to ask. So think about what you want to 5. Have fun with it. Yeah, I know, almost all say! Write down some talking points, and top-five or -ten lists end with this point, nine times out of 10, you’ll have answered from “5 Ways to Survive Thanksgiving the question before it comes out of the Dinner with the In-Laws” to “How to interviewer’s mouth. Even a cursory Get Over Your Fear of Mirrors in 10 Google search on the topic will bring up Steps.” Regardless, think of your media recent news articles that may give you engagement as an extension of what an indication of what type of information you do every day – an important public the reporter is seeking. service. Whether it’s an interview about the common cold or a piece of legislation 3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that affects family physicians, you have yourself. An interview isn’t an an excellent opportunity to provide interrogation – your participation in a unique and necessary perspective. the discussion is paramount! Building Treat it as a privilege and enjoy it … And a rapport with your interviewer and don’t forget to keep a few copies of the asking questions yourself will help your newspaper for your great-grandchildren!
NEWSPAPERS Extra, extra! Read all about it The bottom line In discussing the changing role of the newspaper in today’s media landscape, we’ve explored the continued importance of the earliest of the traditional mass media. We learned what goes into a newspaper, what newsworthiness is and how it affects (or should affect) coverage, as well as what a newspaper reporter is concerned about when researching and interviewing for a story. Finally, we talked about the interview process and how to make it mutually beneficial. Whether it’s a feature or a hard news piece, in your local “fishwrapper” or in a larger daily, you have much to contribute to newspaper journalism. The only question left to ask is simply this – what does the end result look like? Fortunately, the PAFP has done all the hard work for you! Click here to visit the print journalism section of the PAFP’s Media Coverage Archive and see how your colleagues have successfully worked with local or national newspapers. There are plenty of examples both local and national for you to peruse.
NEWS RADIO Live from your stereo
What is news radio? News radio – either through a public radio outfit (such as an NPR affiliate), a “newstalk” station (which runs both news and talk programs), or an “all-news” station (like those operated by the major networks) – is a form of mass media made available over AM or FM airwaves. It is similar to a newspaper in that it can cover a wide variety of topics and includes both hard news and longer feature segments. Some broadcast organizations may include entertainment segments, but their primary service is to provide news and information.
What will we learn? We will discuss some of the terminology of news radio to help you identify and contextualize you’re hearing over the airwaves. We’ll also be talking about what kind of material makes for “good radio.” And we’ll again discuss how you can benefit the purveyors of news via radio, and vice-versa.
NEWS RADIO & HEALTH CARE But before all that … why should we care about news radio? In Queen’s 1984 hit “Radio Ga Ga,” Freddie Mercury insists, “Radio, someone still loves you!” Now, he was talking about pop radio, but we can apply his fervor and vigor to our present topic of discussion. News radio is perhaps the least talkedabout of the three media examined in this guide. (You likely hear far more complaints about the New York Times and CNN than you do about news radio.) I think that says less about the quality of the programming – which many avid news consumers find largely superb – than it does about a general mass interest in the medium. But radio is important, and it’s not in any particular danger of going anywhere. Why? First, if you listen to the radio enough, you’ll hear some audio cues that point toward the medium’s typical audience, from traffic updates to phrases like “Thanks for joining us on your morning commute.” For years, America’s transportation has been automobilecentric. The vast majority of listeners tune in while driving – and there’s simply not a many ways one can take in news when their hands are on the wheel and their eyes on the road!
Maybe more importantly, in the context of our discussion (and particularly as regards public broadcast), radio is vital in part because the barrier to access is nearly nonexistent. No subscription is necessary; there’s no purchasing a new issue at a newsstand every day. It is a “public good,” and as such, it does a wonderful job of catering to the needs of its listenership. The depth and the breadth of reporting on the radio is constantly impressive – from new, interesting angles on U.S. government affairs to internationally focused business news to reviews of books, films, music, the quality of the programming is superlative. You can’t ask for much more, especially for the got-to-have-it price of free! While the mode of delivery is different from what we discussed in the last chapter, what determines a piece’s newsworthiness remain the same; nevertheless, the radio is a technology with its own rules, strengths and lexicon. Ready to check it out?
NEWS RADIO Live from your stereo Glossary Much like we did in the last section, we’re going to talk about some of the terminology so you know what you’re listening to:
1. Host. The host is analogous to the anchor of a television news broadcast – she or he reads the headlines, introduces the other stories, often does traffic and weather. Part reporter, part announcer, part “master of ceremonies,” the host truly does it all! 2. Incue. Sometimes abbreviated “IQ,” this is simply the first few words of a sound bite or story. This gives the host and the crew an auditory cue of when the story or sound bite begins. As you can imagine, this is an absolutely integral part of a broadcast. 3. Nat sound. When you think of the term “natural sound,” what comes to mind? In broadcast, natural sound, or nat sound, refers to the ambient sound that’s interspersed throughout the piece. For example, say the story is about Black Friday shopping; the nat sound might include hurried footsteps, loud and excited chatter, people snatching goods off the shelves, the sound of a cash register … you get the idea. 4. Outcue. Can you guess what an outcue (sometimes abbreviated “OQ”) is? That’s right – it’s the final few words of a soundbite or story, meant to let the host and team know when the story is ending. 5. Soundbite. Unless it’s a live talk show (we’ll get to that later), interviews are recorded, and then the relevant bits are placed into the story in soundbite form. Soundbites usually last no longer than a few seconds, and they allow the listener to hear the subjects of the piece speak “in their own words,” rather than being paraphrased by the reporter.
NEWS RADIO Live from your stereo
6. Story. “Story” is the term we’ll use when we’re talking about a piece heard on the radio. In the television news section, we’ll expand on the concept of story. 7. Tag. At the end of a story, you may hear the host say something to the effect of, “For more information on the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians, visit their website at PAFP.com.” This is a tag, and serves both to wrap up a story and give the listener additional material that wasn’t in the story itself. 8. Tease. Have you ever heard a host describe a story coming up in the newscast, and it sounded so interesting you just had to keep listening? That’s a tease. These are written to let you know what to expect later in the show and keep you from turning that dial. 9. Voicer. A voicer is a shorter recorded story that doesn’t include any soundbites. In other words, the entire story is just the reporter talking. 10. Wrap. Say there’s just single soundbite, or maybe two butted against each other, in the story: You’ll hear the reporter’s voice first, then the soundbite, then the reporter’s voice at the end. As they say in showbiz, “That’s a wrap!” 25
NEWS RADIO Live from your stereo Media ethics, pt. 2 We discussed newsworthiness in the last chapter. Now is a good time to add another critical component of media ethics into the mix – a word you know well that we lightly touched on earlier: objectivity (noun) remaining unbiased and impartial on a topic; adhering completely to the facts and avoiding preference or conjecture. Objectivity is a major goal of any good journalist; nevertheless, I think our society has both overcomplicated and oversimplified the idea. On the one hand, it shouldn’t take an ethics guide to realize that accepting gifts from a politician interview subject is a major conflict of interest; on the other, though, the whole “there are two sides to every story” mantra tends to undervalue a wide array of varying opinions in between. Sometimes there are fewer than two sides. But that’s not your problem to worry about. When you’re interviewed by the media, your job is to speak what you know and how you feel with authority. The reason your opinion is sought is because you have a unique and necessary point of view. Your only concern in
terms of objectivity is to speak in a clear, straightforward way so no one misconstrues your purpose. A side note: It’s probably harder to take someone’s words out of context in a radio interview than in a print interview (not that anyone would try to do it on purpose) for the fact that there’s a big difference between transcribing someone’s words and actually taking the audio from the interview. The subject’s tone, timbre, inflection, accent – these don’t merely color the interview, they provide an important window into the subject’s intent. To sum it all up, much has been made of objectivity and bias – but it’s not something you particularly need to be concerned about. Your goal is to do your best job of giving a good interview, which we’ll discuss in a few pages.
NEWS RADIO Live from your stereo Content and coverage Radio doesn’t have “sections” like a newspaper does, but it does have certain themed blocks of time that follow specific content parameters. Maybe you’re needed for story regarding the flu season in the local news block. You might also discuss the high cost of a physician’s education – that could be in the business timeslot. Or perhaps you’re asked to appear on an hour-long public affairs talk show with a few other experts to talk about the effects of the Affordable Care Act in Pennsylvania. In order for the diversity of the format to work, it needs to adhere to certain guidelines. It’s no surprise that the content blocks are broken up by time, much like a TV network. The stories themselves must be as brief as possible – no more than a minute for a voicer or a wrap, and just a few minutes for a longer story. A wide and varied array of subject matter must be covered, always keeping the needs and desires of the audience in mind. The news needs to be balanced with the “here and now,” especially regarding those who are in transit while listening – weather and traffic information must always be around the corner.
The above is simply what makes radio content consistent. What makes for “good” radio? It’s mostly subjective, but the best stories on the radio follow one simple rule: building the story around the soundbites. The interviewees are the centerpiece, and a good reporter lets the subjects speak for themselves rather than writing the story first, then shoehorning the quotes into the piece. Now let’s learn how to craft good soundbites!
NEWS RADIO Live from your stereo Interviewing The benefit and drawback to performing a recorded interview for radio is that you’ll be represented by your voice, not just your words on a page. Like we touched upon a few pages ago, that means that your elocution is paramount. Much of the context of your interview will come from not just what you say, but how you say it. Don’t be too concerned – just talk to the interviewer like you’d talk to a patient, and you’re golden.
the interview to flow smoothly. It’s the perfect length to fit into a piece without taking up too much of a chunk of the overall narrative. Another tip: Always answer questions in complete sentences! You don’t want the interviewer to have to “set up” the quote.
Because the story needs to fit within the time constraints of the radio program, your brevity is appreciated. Not that oneor two-word answers are appropriate, but a minute-long answer to a question is detrimental in two ways: first, the longer you talk, the easier it is for you to “lose the plot.” In addition, it’s not ideal for your soundbite to be chopped out of the middle of a response, where context and clarity may be compromised. A good rule of thumb here is “the 15-second soundbite.” If you can keep your responses between 10 and 15 seconds, you’ll be doing both yourself and the reporter a favor. That’s more than enough time to give a complete answer to a question without rambling, and it will help
NEWS RADIO Live from your stereo Interviewing
It’s time to ease you into the reality that you may, one day, be asked to take part in a live interview. Take a few deep breaths, and keep reading when you’re ready. In many ways, if you’re able to put aside the nervousness of the word “live,” you’ll find that a live interview or forum is a much more organic exchange of ideas than when you’re speaking into a reporter’s tape recorder. When family physicians are asked why they decided on a family medicine career, the vast majority say they love the relationships and interpersonal communication – and a live interview is the perfect place to put these skills to use! In this setting, you can mostly forget about the idea of the 15-second soundbite, since your words aren’t being placed into a shorter recorded narrative.
Remember to let the host finish her or his question before you launch into answering it. In a situation wherein you’re a guest on a panel of multiple experts, use common courtesy – absolutely no talking over the other guests (we’re looking at you, Bill O’Reilly and Chris Matthews)! If you find that you misspeak in a live interview, don’t panic. Simply say, “Let me reword that…” or “Pardon me, what I meant is…” and continue. Trust me: the only person will notice your mistakes is you. The audience isn’t tuning in to look for mistakes – they want to be informed and entertained. Also, always remember to thank the hosts and the other guests! You want to be invited back, don’t you?
NEWS RADIO Live from your stereo Five tips for a successful interview 1. Be conversational. We’ve talked about especially on a panel with other guests. the auditory dynamism of radio, and If you don’t understand a question or this is something that you can use need a comment rephrased, ask – it’s to your advantage. You speak with much better than answering the wrong authority every day when you’re visiting question or responding to a comment with patients – harness that energy and incorrectly. enthusiasm for a radio interview. (Are you beginning to see a theme here? 4. “I don’t know” is a perfectly Family physicians are perfectly suited acceptable answer. Remember: Even for media engagements!) if you don’t know the answer to a question, you can always reframe 2. Think of what you want to say it into a query that you’re able to beforehand. Preparation is especially answer. You may not know how many important in the aforementioned live Pennsylvanians have been struck with interview situation. Nobody will mind if the seasonal flu, but you can certainly you bring a list of “talking points” along speak to how your patients are with you – just an information sheet or being affected. a few index cards can do wonders for jogging your memory. However, unless 5. Have fun with it. Being interviewed you’re Kathleen Sebelius (and you’re for radio, whether it’s for a story or not), you don’t have to worry about for a live segment, should be a blast! “hardball” or “gotcha” questions that Showcase your natural strengths and you didn’t prepare for. Remember, the don’t ever be afraid to insert some journalist has the same goal that you levity into your commentary. It can do – providing valuable information to a sometimes be challenging for journalists valued audience. to take complex medical topics and make them relatable and interesting, 3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions which is a job you’re well suited to. yourself. This is another tip that’s Relish the opportunity! pertinent in a live interview setting –
NEWS RADIO Live from your stereo The bottom line Radio, as you’ve seen, is another important part of the mass media sphere. We learned about what makes the radio unique and important to the public, we talked about the most often-used words and phrases, and we considered objectivity and its importance in journalism. We also discussed format and the interview process. The PAFP is blessed to have several members who give excellent radio interviews – in specific, past PAFP president Kevin Wong, MD is so adept that he’s repeatedly invited back his local radio station to fill the hosts in on anything and everything health-care related. Click here to visit the radio journalism section of the PAFP’s Media Coverage Archive and listen to excellent examples of PAFP members taking advantage of their on-air opportunities!
TELEVISION NEWS Anchors away!
What is television news? Television news is delivered through a 24-hour news network, a local network affiliate, or a public access channel. It involves live and recorded segments featuring a variety of current events topics. Like other mass media, it can be local, regional, national or international. The video content helps to inform and convey the information.
What will we learn? As we examine our final mass media format, we’ll once again go over common terms and phrases. We’ll talk about what you’re actually seeing when you look at your TV screen. We’ll review some of the key strengths of delivering news in a visual format, and we’ll discuss how you can take advantage of those strengths when you’re called on for an interview.
TELEVISION NEWS & HEALTH CARE But before all that … why should we care about news radio? From Walter Cronkite to Diane Sawyer, from Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk to Sept. 11, 2001, television news has been the media format that’s dominated most of our lives. Some of us grew up in an era where the local 6:00 news was a dinnertime tradition; others of us were born well after the inception of the 24-hour news cycle. The impact of television on news gathering, reporting and dissemination has been profound.
meteorologists. Viewers who watch religiously often come to think of the news personalities as friends they welcome into their homes. They assign a certain authority and trust to these figures, and those attitudes extend to the coverage, so television news outlets need to be particularly judicious when it comes to their audiences.
A unique opportunity presents itself when you’re asked to give an interview Television is the preferred news medium on television: you’ll have a larger and of choice for many – it’s quick, convenient, more diverse audience than the other and (in the case of the CNNs and Fox two media we’ve explored so far, so Newses) on all the time. The moving don’t be surprised if a good number of images broadcast through a TV set help your patients greet you the following consumers get “close to the action” day with “I saw you on TV last night!” without actually being there, and they Television is the clearest representation help to facilitate a genuine emotional of who you are, from the way you dress connection between the viewer and the and the expression on your face to your subject. Many viewers see television news body language. If you can properly take (local newscasts, in particular) as a “known advantage of the format, you’ll be pleased quantity” – the most important story will with how clearly your words and intent be at the beginning of the show, weather come across. takes place ten or fifteen minutes in, sports is toward the end of the newscast, Don’t let any of this scare you – television then a quick weather hit again. is one of the best ways for you to wave the banner of family medicine while improving Speaking of a “genuine emotional your communications toolbox. If you can connection,” viewers often show do a TV interview, you can do anything – dedication to their favorite television plus, don’t you think you’d look good on news outlets, anchors, reporters and the small screen?
TELEVISION NEWS Anchors away! Let’s take a look One last time, we’re going to learn some words and phrases that correspond to television news. Check out the labeled images for visual examples of some of the terms in the glossary below. 1. Anchor. The anchor is the on-air personality who introduces some stories and reads others. She or he is the “face” of the program. Anchors do more than just read off a teleprompter – they help write certain stories and often have to go out and report themselves. 2. Anchor desk. The anchor or anchors sit at the anchor desk. In many cases, there are TV sets built into the anchor desk so the anchors can watch the show during segments they’re not reading. 3. Banner. This is the graphic that gives you the specific information about the story – sort of a mix between a headline and a dateline from a newspaper. You should be able to look at the banner and know what type of story you’re viewing (local news, business, sports), what the story is about, and where it takes place. 4. Bug. You can generally find the bug in one of the corners of the screen. It will tell you the name of the TV station and often the date and the temperature. 5. Chroma key. You’ll know this as the “green screen.” This is where the meteorologist stands during the weather report. 6. Crawl. Sometimes called “news ticker,” the crawl updates the viewer on a number of other important stories. It can also display sports scores, election results, polls … if there’s any additional content the news organization wants to fit into the program, this is the perfect place to fit it in. Local news outfits tend not to overuse the crawl, but you’ll see it pop up from time to time to display breaking news, inclement weather updates, school closings and the like.
TELEVISION NEWS Anchors away!
Not pictured in this example.
TELEVISION NEWS Glossary
7. Graphics. In addition to the banners, bugs, crawls supers (see below for that last one), there are plenty of other graphics that often show up on-screen: animations that play in between segments or highlight breaking news; “over-the-shoulder” (or “OTS”) boxes that appear behind an anchor; full-screen graphics like maps or polls. 8. Intro. Short for “introduction,” this is the script that the anchor reads to set up the story that’s about to air. 9. Liveshot. When a reporter is “on the scene,” they’ll often do a liveshot and report directly from the location of whatever event is taking place. (Note: Sometimes a reporter might appear in a pre-recorded bit, but you can easily tell the difference: when a liveshot is occurring, there will always be a graphic on-screen that says “LIVE.”) 10. Package. A package is a self-contained story usually lasting between one and two minutes. It is recorded and edited into a single piece. Sometimes the reporter will give it a liveshot intro and outro; other times, the anchor performs that duty. 11. Superscript. Sometimes shortened “super,” this is the banner that appears when an interviewee is speaking on camera. The super shows the name of the subject and their profession, title, or relevance to the story. 12. Voiceover. Often shortened “VO,” this is when an anchor or reporter reads over video footage. The editor cuts the video to match what the reporter is scripted to say. Finally, some terms that we discussed in the previous chapter – incue, outcue, nat sound, tease, tag, soundbite – mean the same thing in television news as they do in radio.
NEWS @ 11
BEAR BREAKS OUT
ZOO ANIMAL ESCAPES, ON THE LAM
BITCOIN SURGES IN PRICE • NYSE TO ALLOW FACEBOOK ON S&P 500 • RESCUE EFFORTS IN UKRAINE UNDERWAY • EVIDENCE FOUND AT LOCAL
NEWS @ 11
11 TIMMY URSUS
SAW BEAR ESCAPE FROM ENCLOSURE
BITCOIN SURGES IN PRICE • NYSE TO ALLOW FACEBOOK ON S&P 500 • RESCUE EFFORTS IN UKRAINE UNDERWAY • EVIDENCE FOUND AT LOCAL
TELEVISION NEWS Anchors away! Media ethics, pt. 3 It’s time to examine our third and final term relating to media ethics. It’s another familiar word, but it may well be the most important of the three we’ve looked at. accuracy (noun) the state of remaining as truthful and error-free as possible; only dealing in information that is appropriately sourced, credited and verified. At the end of the day, the media’s primary job is to be accurate. Great pains are taken to make sure that information is properly sourced (most organizations have a rule about how many sources a reporter needs to publish a claim). Crediting quotes to the appropriate sources is utterly vital; stories are read multiple times by multiple parties to ensure veracity. Inaccuracy is a serious offense in any media organization and more often than not leads to punishment or firing. In rare but always highprofile cases, inaccuracy can get a media outlet sued; even if the news organization wins a court case, the time, effort and legal fees are absolutely never worth a piece of information failing to be thoroughly and properly vetted. It can’t be stressed enough – while it’s very easy to make the media into a scapegoat for inaccuracy, a journalist would be an utter fool to brazenly and purposely obscure the truth in any way. On the other side of the coin, doesn’t it seem like inaccuracy happens an awful lot? Remember
the 60 Minutes Wednesday controversy over George W. Bush’s military records, or when CNN reported that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act last year? The fact is, nobody’s perfect. In our current media environment (especially given the ubiquity of 24-hour news networks), it’s impossible to carry a perfect track record. That inevitability doesn’t excuse a mistake; however, given the stress of the fast-paced, minute-by-minute news business, it is important to understand how mistakes happen. Fortunately, most news organizations have a strict set of standards to follow when inaccurate information makes it to the audience, including immediate retractions, apologies, and the “personnel management” angle we discussed a couple paragraphs ago. So to recap: Yes, the media strives for accuracy; Yes, sometimes unfortunate mistakes occur; Yes, the situation is always amended or ameliorated. Should you worry about accuracy? Yes – insofar as it relates to the information you’re passing along to the reporter. Trust that the reporter will do her or his job to the best of her or his ability, and make sure you’re doing the best that you can too. But don’t lose sleep for fear of being misquoted, misattributed or misrepresented. You’re just as likely to get struck by lightning or win the lottery.
TELEVISION NEWS Anchors away! Content and coverage
Television and radio have much in common in terms of format. Most local news outlets have their programs broken up by block, labelled alphabetically. For example, the A-block may be filled with local news stories, followed by weather in the B-block. The C-block could be national news, followed by business news in the D-block and sports in the E-block. A story’s placement in the program is based on importance. The stories at the top of the A-block, much like the pieces above the fold of a newspaper, are the “biggest” stories of the day. Yes, it’s something of a judgment call, and you’ll sometimes see three or four local news outlets leading their shows with three or four different stories. Such an
occurrence could be based simply on differing audience interests (an important story about a school board meeting in one county might not register on a neighboring county’s radar). It could also be a reflection of the “tone” that the television station is trying to set: Different news outlets have different interests; your local FOX affiliate might pride itself on its crime reporting while the ABC affiliate’s motto is “We’re always there first when breaking news hits!” Differing community and organizational priorities are nuanced, and they absolutely affect what you see when you turn on the 6:00 p.m. newscast. Television news content arrives in different forms. Some stories are packages, which generally include multiple interviews
TELEVISION NEWS Anchors away!
and soundbites. The establishing shots, voiceover bits and interviews are shot, then the reporter chooses the best soundbites and writes the script. After the reporter records the vocal track, the editor works some magic and puts it all together into one cohesive piece that ends up lasting an average of about a minute and a half. That doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but it’s prime real estate in a half-hour program!
Once you learn to identify these trends, you’ll see them everywhere, even on the national news! Speaking of which, at times you’ll notice your local TV news outlet running a package by a national reporter from the major news network with which the local station is affiliated. For large stories with broad nationwide or worldwide appeal, the networks will assemble special packages for their affiliates.
Another form of news story is a voiceover (VO) or a “VO-bite.” A voiceover is a short piece (less than a minute, ideally around 20 seconds) involving an anchor or reporter reading over video footage; a VO-bite is the same thing, but with a soundbite somewhere in the middle.
TELEVISION NEWS Anchors away! Content and coverage While what makes a story newsworthy shouldn’t differ across formats, television news relies on its visuals to tell stories. It doesn’t particularly affect hard news content (the city council meeting has to be covered, no matter how visually uninteresting it is!), but for feature-style or human interest stories, bright colors and action are absolutely sought out.
July and November (roughly), the Nielsen Company collects ratings for analysis. These periods are called “sweeps,” and they help news organizations and advertisers determine programming and spending. During sweeps, news outlets often adjust their content to gain more eyeballs and increase viewership, so you’ll see a higher volume of feature stories and packages that last longer than (Here’s a hypothetical scenario, for average. Yes, sometimes you’ll see some instance: Two charity benefits are taking sensationalistic, overhyped nonsense place on a Saturday afternoon at the same during these periods – not all organizations time and at two opposite ends of the buy into that ratings bait philosophy, but it viewing area. Both events are benefitting happens on occasion. the same organization, and both expect the same number of attendees. The only For the most part, the chief concern of difference? One event is a 5K run, the television news outlets aligns with the other is a fashion show for household other two media we discussed: what pets. Which would you want to cover as matters to the audience is king in the a reporter or watch as a viewer? Note: If newsroom. And ultimately, viewers care you’ve ever watched a summer weekend about one thing – themselves. That’s not newscast, you’ll know this scenario is not selfish or narcissistic, but people want as far-fetched as it sounds on paper.) to see stories that affect them and their neighborhoods. They want to know if Four times a year, something else an apartment complex two blocks over happens that affects perceptions of is robbed, because they are concerned newsworthiness. Each February, May, about the safety of their own home. They
TELEVISION NEWS Anchors away!
want to know if the local grocery store is closing, because they don’t want to have to make the trip to the shopping center across town. They want to know if the local government is cutting firefighters’ pay, because they need to be sure it won’t affect the response time if a blaze broke out in their house.
needs to be front and center. This is true of other news media as well, but sight is a particularly powerful empathetic sense. The news organizations that hire photojournalists, anchors and reporters who genuinely care about others are the ones that create content worth viewing – it all comes through in the end result.
Therefore, in order for television news to be successful, the human condition
TELEVISION NEWS Anchors away! Conducting the interview
Television interviews are fun to begin with, but they’re much more enjoyable if you know what you’re doing! We’re going to go over a few basic guidelines of television interview manners and propriety, then we’ll launch one final time into our “five tips” list.
The photojournalist will likely tell you this as well, but here’s a little “heads up” – do not look directly at the camera when you’re conducting an interview! The only people who are allowed to do that are the anchors. (Technically, they’re looking at the teleprompter, not the camera.) The way the camera frames the shot will First and foremost, be sure to “dress the give the illusion that you’re speaking to part.” That doesn’t mean put on your best someone just off-camera to one side or ball gown or cummerbund, but simple another. (Sometimes that’s where the business casual is a good way to go. Your reporter actually will be standing. Other white coat is also an excellent choice for times, photojournalists conduct the interview attire. interviews themselves, and you’ll spend
TELEVISION NEWS Anchors away!
the length of the interview actually staring at the photographer’s shoulder. It might feel unnatural, but it looks utterly normal on the screen.) Finally, don’t be nervous! Being on TV is actually kind of cool. While doing an interview for television news may seem daunting, your day job is far more difficult. You’ve mastered all the ins and outs of family medicine – there’s no question you’ll master this in no time.
(Note: Yes, there are also opportunities in television for interviews during a live shot, but a likelier scenario is that you’d be asked to appear on a forum or roundtable discussion about a particular health care topic. In this case, everything we discussed about live interviews in the last chapter still applies.)
TELEVISION NEWS Anchors away!
TELEVISION NEWS Anchors away! Five tips for a successful interview 1. Be conversational. The biggest active instead of a passive participant is component to being conversational in the easiest way to make your responses front of a video camera is being relaxed. sound natural. Along these lines, if you If you’re rigid and nervous, it will show need a redo, don’t hesitate to let the on your face, on your body, and in your reporter or photographer know that words. Body language speaks volumes. you’re going to stop and start your If you often “speak with your hands” and response again. make a lot of motions or gestures, it’s perfectly acceptable to do that during 4. “I don’t know” is a perfectly an interview for TV news. And if all acceptable answer. Remember how else fails and these tips are making you we discussed earlier how it’s always overthink it, feel free to ignore them if appropriate to ask if you can call a you can act naturally without them! reporter back with the answer to a question that stumps you? It definitely 2. Think of what you want to say applies here. If it’s information that can beforehand. Unfortunately, you can go unattributed, it could be used in the get away with notes a little better VO portion of the piece or as the tag at in newspaper and radio interviews. the end of a package. But there’s no need to memorize every single point you want to make, 5. Have fun with it. Hopefully you have for two reasons: one, the journalist enough information and confidence may not even ask you every question now that you’ll be able to say “All right, you’re anticipating; and two, you don’t Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up!” have to answer any question you’re If you can manage to remain calm and uncomfortable with. Nevertheless, a self-assured, you’ll enjoy the experience little preparation doesn’t hurt. – you may even call up your family and friends and let them know when they 3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions should tune in! yourself. We’ve previously established that asking questions and being an
TELEVISION NEWS Anchors away! The bottom line We’ve spent the last several pages exploring why television news is a vital part of the media industry and how it works. You learned some terms and tricks of the trade, how to interpret what you’re seeing on the screen, and how to take advantage of the opportunity to appear on TV. We also talked about the importance of accuracy and the high cost of “getting it wrong.” Some family physicians thrive on television, particularly past PAFP president Dennis Gingrich, MD. You can view his many TV interviews – as well as those of some of your other friends and colleagues, on television news section of the PAFP’s Media Coverage Archive. Simply click here and watch away – don’t forget the bucket of popcorn!
THE INTERNET AND NEWS MEDIA A new frontier
We’ve spent the last several pages exploring why television news is a vital part of the media industry and how it works. You learned some terms and tricks of the trade, how to interpret what you’re seeing on the screen, and how to take advantage of the opportunity to appear on TV. We also talked about the importance of accuracy and the high cost of “getting it wrong.” Some family physicians thrive on television, particularly past PAFP president Dennis Gingrich, MD. You can view his many TV interviews – as well as those of some of your other friends and colleagues, on television news section of the PAFP’s Media Coverage Archive. Simply click here and watch away – don’t forget the bucket of popcorn!
THE INTERNET AND NEWSPAPERS Newspapers have been struggling to adapt to the Internet for years. For one thing, revenue through the traditional physical-subscriptions-and-ads model doesn’t perfectly translate to the Internet, where users are used to getting content for free. That, combined with the endless competition of other instantly available news outlets, means that newspapers have to work especially hard to keep the interest – and the cash – coming in. Varying tactics are used to mitigate these complex problems. Some newspapers, such as the Chicago Sun-Times, take measures as drastic as the laying off every full-time photographer (the paper’s late film critic, Roger Ebert, likely would have lambasted the move). Other methods are subtle, but met with varying degrees of success. The New York Times is one of several outlets which has instituted a “pay wall” – you can consume a certain amount of content for free and pay for additional content after that. Another tack along the same lines is separating the content on a newspaper’s website into “free” and “premium” categories: the central conceit is that the premium content is superior
to the free. Other organizations, like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, have ended up ceasing print publications all together in favor of their Internet enterprises. Another consequence of the Internet: you’ll discover that the three mass media formats we’ve been covering are beginning to resemble each other a bit in their online incarnations. For example, on a newspaper’s website, you’ll often see video content complementing stories, offering different angles, accompanying breaking news. The convergence of technology means newspapers have the ability to offer far more than journalism’s early pioneers could ever have expected. The Internet is still in its infancy in many ways, and there’s plenty of room for the technology and the newspaper industry to meld harmoniously, playing off the strengths of each. Earlier, I described newspapers as a still “competitive technology,” and there’s no reason to think that the industry will collapse entirely. In the future, a newspaper may be more of a boutique good – but there will always be a place for it.
THE INTERNET AND RADIO Radio has also adapted beyond the scope of its original format. For starters, many radio stations are “streamed” online, which means that you can listen to it in realtime in the same way you’d listen to the radio on your stereo or car. Many of the features you hear – including full interview transcripts – can often be found on radio outlets’ websites. It’s nice to have the best of both worlds. Some people are auditory learners and others are visual learners; some people prefer to hear the ambient noise and the art of the reporter’s voice track, others can read faster than they can listen and prefer text. Radio has also taken advantage of video content. At times, radio stations will post videos of interviews, packages similar to the ones assembled for television broadcast, or even live video footage of the host who is currently on-air. Also, plenty of radio affiliates have connections or ties with a local television broadcast outfit, so content sharing isn’t uncommon
– you might find your favorite local television station’s weather forecast hosted on the radio outlet’s website. For the most part, radio has tended to fare a bit better in the age of the Internet, largely because consumers don’t “purchase” radio in the way that they’d pay for a newspaper (it’s the same for television news). And, once again, as long as there are cars and other locales wherein radio is the only option for news, radio is in little danger of extinction. You can expect to hear news over the radio for a long time to come.
THE INTERNET AND TELEVISION NEWS Television news has benefitted from the Internet in a number of ways. Broadcast scripts translate pretty well to a product meant to be read. Additionally, plenty of stories that don’t make the newscasts because of time constraints or other factors are often placed on the web as exclusive content. A major benefit of online presence of the three mass media we’ve covered is the ability to archive past news content. This is especially true in the case of television news – instead of having to sit in front of the TV, waiting for a particular story or segment, the clip can easily be found online. This has some constraints, especially when video is involved: the files are typically large, and not many news organizations shell out big bucks for a server that can fit all of its past content (you pay subscription fees for most this content – think The New York Times). Regardless, the Internet certainly makes television news viewing far more convenient. Some television organizations will stream the newscasts when they air. They might save the latest newscast and weather
report on the website, updated after each show or segment airs, so their viewers can immediately see the latest newscast if they’ve missed it. It’s also nice to have a place where public need-to-know information – school closings and delays, Amber Alerts, inclement weather – is readily available at all times rather than just at noon, 6:00 p .m. and 11:00 p.m. Television news outlets have been trying their hand at monetizing their websites for years. While wraparound ads, sponsored content like slideshows and games, and clickable banners are nice to have, the lion’s share of revenue still comes from those 30-second ad spots on television. As the Internet advances, envision a scenario in which television news programs and even 24-hour news networks will be completely streamed online at all times, allowing for interactive click-based advertisements similar to what you see on YouTube YouTube rather than the static ads you see on TV. The medium has plenty of room to grow and change for the better through the power of the Internet!
PRIMARY CARE & NEWS MEDIA... & SOCIAL MEDIA
Our branded social media effort. Whenever you see this logo attached to any PAFP material, you can be sure we will be discussing it on those three channels.
Don’t think for a moment that your only interaction with the news media has to be saying “yes” to an interview (although that is heartily encouraged!). You can be involved in every stage of the process thanks to the power of the Internet and social media. Whether it’s retweeting an excellent radio interview on Twitter or making a story pitch on your local TV station’s Facebook page, there are endless ways to be actively engaged with the news media. That brings us full circle to the first two publications in the PAFP Big 3 series. If you haven’t read them yet, Primary
Care & Social Media and Primary Care & Advanced Social Media will teach you everything you need to know about using important social media tools as a family physician. You’ll learn basic and advanced techniques for using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn; you’ll become acquainted with YouTube, Skype, and WordPress; and you’ll be connecting with colleagues and patients in no time! All three guides serve different purposes, but after reading them all, you’ll find that you’ve adopted a comprehensive toolbox for dealing with all corners of the media landscape.
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK “To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful.” - Edward R. Murrow
As we close the book on Primary Care & News Media, let’s add one last tool to that toolbox. As a member of the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians, one of the many benefits you’ll receive is support for your news media efforts. The communications team is ready and eager to set up interviews, pitch story ideas, and provide all the help and assistance you’ll need to collaborate with the news media. We are more than happy to be your personal news media help desk. Please let us know if you have questions or suggestions or need help! Bryan D. Peach Manager of Media and Public Relations The Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians and Foundation