Key Concepts in Journalism Studies

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Bob Franklin, Martin Hamer, Mark Hanna, Marie Kinsey & John E. Richardson

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  • Part I: Concepts

    Part II: Institutions

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    The SAGE Key Concepts series provides students with accessible and authoritative knowledge of the essential topics in a variety of disciplines. Cross-referenced throughout, the format encourages critical evaluation through understanding. Written by experienced and respected academics, the books are indispensable study aids and guides to comprehension.

    Copyright

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    Acknowledgements

    We would like to thank Annie Franklin for volunteering editorial assistance with compiling the various sections of this book during the summer of 2004. Thanks also to Julia Hall for her suggestion that we might write this book and her belief it might prove useful to students and teachers of journalism studies. Jamilah Ahmed and the editorial and production staff at Sage also deserve a vote of thanks for their support and skill in bringing the book to fruition.

    Note on the Text

    At the end of each entry, the initials of the contributor are shown:

    Bob FranklinBF
    Martin HamerMGH
    Mark HannaMNH
    Marie KinseyMK
    John RichardsonJER

    Each concept includes cross-references guiding readers to other related concepts and institutions. References in bold are to other journalism studies concepts; references in italics relate to institutions/organizations.

    Introduction

    Key Concepts in Journalism Studies is designed for students of journalism, media and communications studies and aims to provide them with an accessible, authoritative but preliminary guide to the central concepts informing the innovatory and burgeoning field of journalism studies. Perhaps away from the gaze of students, academics and teachers will also find the book a useful source of up-to-date information about contemporary journalism; as might working journalists in search of a more theoretical evaluation and explanation of their daily professional practice. Members of the broader reading public will also hopefully find something of interest here in the discussion of agony aunts, cartoons, Gonzo journalism, readers' letters, spin doctors and media scrums.

    Written by experienced academics, journalists and teachers, the book identifies, analyzes and presents key concepts in journalism studies, explores their interconnections and offers recommendations for further reading and study. The book examines journalism across all media platforms embracing print, radio, television and online journalism. An initial question is obvious: how is this field of journalism studies to be understood? Others soon follow. What parameters define its limits? How does this fledgling discipline connect to the concerns of other arts and social science subjects such as media studies, sociology and linguistics? Browse through the alphabetical listing of concepts and page 128 delivers one answer to these questions and outlines the essential features of journalism studies. Contrary definitions of the field undoubtedly exist: so much the better. It is contested accounts rather than unwarranted certainty that prompt further reflection and intellectual development.

    Journalism studies is the multidisciplinary study of journalism as an arena of professional practice and a subject focus for intellectual and academic inquiry. More specifically, it entails the critical analysis of the various processes involved in gathering, evaluating, interpreting, researching, writing, editing, reporting and presenting information and comment on a wide range of subjects (including business, fashion, news, politics, sport and travel), that are disseminated via an expansive range of mass media (including the Internet, magazines, newspapers, radio and television) to diverse audiences (distinguished by culture, identity and intellectual interests) resident in local, regional, national and international settings.

    Sources, of course, are invaluable to journalists and central to journalism studies; they are also important to students of journalism studies. Routinely or one-off, sources provide journalists with possible stories, exclusive insider information and authoritative quotations. Whistleblowers, leaks and spin-doctors' press briefings have the added advantage that they come for free, but they bring their own dangers. The growth in chequebook journalism, moreover, means that journalists increasingly need to dip into their back pockets and expense accounts to access sources' deep well of information.

    But sources' real value for journalists depends on how they are used. Journalists need to reflect on the information which sources provide, assess its accuracy and relevance, interpret its meaning, adjudicate between contested and contradictory information delivered by different sources, consider the relationship between them and, finally, use a diverse range of sources to construct a balanced and even-handed argument or account of events. The same requirements should steer the use of this book by students of journalism, media and communication studies who are also reliant on sources.

    Open the book at the entry for Sources and that message is underscored. Sources are ‘the people, places and organizations that supply journalists with ideas and general information for news stories and features … Cuttings, archival material, broadcast recordings and a variety of documents and websites provide further useful sources of information.’ All these sources of information, data and documentation are available in Key Concepts in Journalism Studies.

    The health warnings posted in the same entry about journalists' use of sources, apply with equal force to readers' use of this book. Journalists, for example, risk their independence being ‘compromised by an over-reliance’ on sources or their use of ‘a limited number of news sources’. Journalists' reliance on significant and authoritative sources, moreover, may offer the latter too great an influence on ‘how stories are reported and debated’. The dangers of getting too close to sources should be as apparent to journalists as students of journalism studies. But readers of Key Concepts in Journalism Studies differ markedly from journalists concerning the ‘need to protect the identity of sources’. Journalists traditionally guarantee their sources absolute anonymity while the protocols of scholarly research and writing insist on openness and honesty in the use of academic sources.

    What connects the ways that readers should use the sources of information in this book with journalists' use of sources of news is the simple observation that these ‘key concepts’, like journalists' sources, are intended to provide the starting point, not the terminus, of any inquiry. Their purpose is not to serve as a surrogate for further reading or critical reflection: unattributed sources to be ‘glued’ together into an ill-considered and intellectually inadequate pastiche. Key Concepts is not a simple dictionary that delivers uncontested ‘meanings’ or a précis of complex ideas.

    On the contrary, each concept should trigger thoughtful reflection about its meaning, prompt readers to explore the cognate concepts and, where meanings and interpretations collide, to strive for and achieve some new synthesis and understanding. Like journalists, readers, who wish to maximise the benefit to be derived from the sources provided here, should consult the widest possible range of sources, follow the recommendations for further reading which accompany entries and use the extensive bibliography to explore more widely, but in closer detail, the literature of this field of scholarly inquiry. See how useful this book can be?

    The book has been clearly structured into two broad parts to facilitate readers' access to information and source materials. Part I contains the substantive listing of key concepts in journalism studies, which is ordered alphabetically. Entries range from absence and agenda setting through to uses and gratifications and yellow journalism. Along the way censorship, discourse analysis, news values and tabloid journalism are discussed and analysed. Entries embrace consideration of both theoretical and practical concerns and, where appropriate, try to reconcile differences arising from this mix of theory and practice. The book makes explicit the interconnections between key concepts and highlights them by using bold type ‘hyperlinks’ across the alphabetically listed entries, but also seeks to whet readers' appetites for further reading by providing extensive and explicit bibliographical guidance to a wide range of primary and secondary literature to facilitate further study. Articles in newspapers, academic journals, books and a range of online sources offer readers opportunities to follow up particular interests. We have tried to include every concept which is relevant and useful, but if we have missed anything, please write to us c/o Sage, and we will attempt to make good the omission in any subsequent edition.

    Part II offers a listing of journalism organizations and institutions selected according to two criteria: first, their significance to the structures and processes of journalism; second, the extent to which they illustrate the institutional form through which particular concepts find organizational expression in the UK or European setting. Consequently, the discussion of the key concept regulation in Part I finds a complementary and companion discussion in the entries in Part II on the Press Complaints Commission, Ofcom and the BBC Board of Governors. Concepts such as news management and agenda setting will similarly find institutional illustration through the entries concerned with the Government Information and Communication Service (GICS) and the Central Office of Information (COI). Organizations identified for inclusion range across a broad spectrum including regulatory bodies (Ofcom), press agencies (Reuters), trade unions (National Union of Journalists, NUJ), journalists' professional organizations (Women in Journalism), government news management organizations (the Government News Network, GNN) and journalism educational organizations (Broadcast Journalism Training Council, BJTC).

    Towards the end of the book, there is a glossary listing key technical terms and phrases commonly used in print, broadcast and online journalism. Entries here include actuality, copy taster, corpsing, freelance and piece to camera.

    The book also explores the complex relationship between journalism studies and the connected disciplines of media, communication and cultural studies, seeking to resolve boundary disputes where they break out. The various entries also indicate the multidisciplinary character of journalism studies and the degree to which it builds on the traditional social science and humanities disciplines of sociology, politics, economics, history, psychology, literature and linguistics.

    Key Concepts in Journalism Studies illustrates the plurality and range of theoretical frameworks which deliver explanatory accounts of structures and processes in journalism studies, as well as identifying the characteristic methodological approaches which inform the knowledge base of the discipline and steer further research inquiries. It also introduces readers to the significant debates within the discipline, by outlining the arguments and positions of key protagonists and by offering summaries and evaluations of academics' and journalists' critical assessments of recent developments in journalism studies.

    Finally, Key Concepts in Journalism Studies outlines the impact of recent policy developments on the organizational structures, financial arrangements and regulatory environment of the media within which journalism is conducted as well as their consequences for journalism products.

    These are giddy ambitions. We hope we have achieved some of them. One measure of our success will be the extent to which readers find this publication valuable and engaging: typical benchmarks of success in journalism. We have tried to provide a useful but critical source of information and ideas about journalism studies. Use it wisely. To get the best from the book, readers, like journalists, must approach this source with appropriate scepticism, an open mind, a genuine spirit of inquiry and a desire to learn. Return to the entry on Sources on p. 248. Remember always to avoid the dangers involved in getting too close to a source or becoming overly reliant on a single source. But also remember that sources provide an extremely valuable fund of ideas, information and authoritative quotations. Significantly, they provide the starting point for an inquiry, but it is for the reader to evaluate, compare and reflect on the information and ideas delivered by multiple sources to arrive eventually at the terminus of that inquiry. Have a good trip!

    BobFranklin, MartinHamer, MarkHanna, MarieKinsey, John E.Richardson October 2004
  • Glossary of Terms

    • Acoustic The particular type of sound achievable in a room or space according to the type of surfaces sound is reflected from.
    • Actuality Sound effects, atmosphere and interviews recorded on location, or recording of a live event.
    • Ad-lib Unscripted, off-the-cuff remark.
    • ADSL Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. Often referred to as broadband, it provides fast, always-on access to the internet using standard telephone copper lines while also allowing the user to make normal phone calls.
    • Advertising feature A piece of writing commissioned to be an advert, or to accompany (and therefore to attract) adverts.
    • AM Amplitude modulation. A term associated with analogue broadcasting on medium wave and a description of how the sound signal gets to the transmitter frequency.
    • Anchor American term for the person who fronts a high profile news programme.
    • Archive A store of news stories (or complete newspapers or broadcast bulletins) published previously, and therefore a source of research material for future. Newspaper stories from earlier decades may still be kept as cuttings (see below).
    • Aston A company that makes a system of on screen captioning and industry term in some organizations for the captioning process itself.
    • Atmos Atmosphere. The addition of natural sound or wild track to add to the authenticity of a piece.
    • Autocue An electrical device allowing television presenters to read a script while looking at the camera.
    • Back-announcement When the presenter gives more detail on an item immediately after its transmission, such as a phone number or the name of the reporter.
    • Back projection When pictures are projected onto a screen behind the presenter.
    • Back-timing Calculating backwards from the end point of a programme to work out the start time of a particular item.
    • Bandwidth (see also in concepts) This can refer either to the difference in the range of signal frequencies, measured in hertz, used on a particular transmission channel, or it can indicate the varying amount of digital information carried across a computer network, which is usually calculated in bits per second.
    • Banner Similar to a newspaper front page masthead, the banner is a section at or across the top of a web page (particularly the homepage) containing content (text and often images) and usually including the name and company logo (if applicable) of the website. The banner, or part of it, could also be an advertisement.
    • Bed Music backing that runs under news bulletins, station idents or adverts.
    • Bi-media Covering the same story for both radio and television.
    • Blurb Those text and graphics in a newspaper or magazine, e.g. on the front page, which enthusiastically tell the reader about articles on other pages, or which will appear in future issues.
    • Breaking news The earliest reports of any event or journalistic discovery e.g. of a court verdict, of a plane crash, or a scoop (see below) revealing a scandal. To ‘break’ a story is to publish it before any rivals do.
    • Brief Notes provided by a researcher or producer summarizing a story and telling a reporter how it will be covered.
    • Browser A computer program which can display all the content on a web page by deciphering the HTML coding. Only text could originally be viewed until the arrival of graphical browsers. The most common browser is Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
    • Bulletin News summary in television or radio usually lasting a few minutes at the top of the hour.
    • Byline A line of type in a news story which tells the reader which journalist wrote it, e.g. ‘By Harold Evans’.
    • Cans Colloquial term for headphones.
    • Capgen Electronic device for generating captions on television programmes.
    • Catchline One or two words used to identify a particular story. Also known as slug.
    • Chapel The British collective name, at workplace level, for members of a media trade union employed there, e.g. the Guardian NUJ Chapel is the term denoting all National Union of Journalist members employed at the Guardian newspaper. The term evolved from printers' workshops being called ‘chapels’. See also Father/Mother of the Chapel (below).
    • Chapel meeting A meeting of members of a trade union employed at the same media workplace (see Chapel, above).
    • Check calls Calls made by newsrooms several times a day to the emergency services.
    • Chromakey An electronic way of taking pictures from several sources to make it look as though a television presenter is standing against a particular backdrop. See CSO (below).
    • Clip Representative section of an interview lasting a few seconds for use in hourly radio news bulletins. Also known as cut or soundbite (see below).
    • CMS Content Management Systems. These are usually used for publishing web pages which can be created and edited using browser-based pre-defined templates without the need for the people inputting the content to know anything about the technology usually involved in producing and updating websites.
    • Colour piece A journalistic article or broadcast which is primarily descriptive of an event and/or its location, seeking to convey the eye- witness experience and emotions of being there, rather than to clinically narrate the news event.
    • Commentary Broadcast description of a live event, or, reporter's script read under pictures on a television news item.
    • Compact The description of a tabloid size newspaper with a broadsheet content. Since 17 May 2004, for example, the Independent has been published only in tabloid size, but editor Simon Kellner argues that the serious broadsheet content of the paper means it should be described as a compact rather than tabloid newspaper.
    • Contact Anyone spoken to by journalists to gain information about a story. See Source (in concepts).
    • Cookies These are small text files sent by web servers when a website is accessed and deposited on a recipient's computer. They can be used to identify users on future visits and also store information about the user's web-surfing habits. This can speed up the web-browsing process, but has led to privacy worries. Browsers can usually be configured to accept or reject cookies.
    • Copy Copy is a written piece of journalism, ready for any necessary editing.
    • Copy-taker A copy-taker is employed to key, into a newsroom's computers, stories dictated by phone by journalists at another location. Copy-takers are a breed near extinction, because journalists generally use laptop computers to transmit ‘copy’ (see above) straight into the newsroom system. Good copy-takers will correct mis-spellings, and take the shine off a reporter's vanity by carping, half-way through the dictation: ‘Is there much more of this?’
    • Copy taster A copy taster is a journalist, usually a sub-editor, who makes an initial selection of what news stories should be considered for publication.
    • Corpsing The uncontrolled desire to laugh, usually inappropriately, while live on air.
    • Covert filming Filming without the knowledge or necessarily agreement of the people or places being filmed.
    • Crossfade Fading in one source of sound while fading out another so that they overlap.
    • CSO Colour Separation Overlay. See Chromakey (see above).
    • Cue 1: A physical or audible signal to a presenter to begin reading, 2: Written introductory material lasting a few sentences and summarizing a story read by a presenter.
    • Cutaway Insertion of a picture within a visual sequence used to hide an edit.
    • Cuttings News stories or features kept in paper form after being cut out, e.g. by scissors, from the page on which they were published. A print journalist applying for a job will usually enclose his/her best work as photocopied cuttings. ‘Cuts’ is a slang abbreviation of the term. A ‘cuttings library’ is an old form of archive (see above).
    • Database An electronic facility used for retrieving, storing and classifying information.
    • Dead air Nothing is being broadcast when it should be. Usually the cue for frantic activity.
    • Deadline The latest time of day or night, e.g. 5.50 p.m., or the latest date, by which a news story or feature must be received by the newsdesk (or by sub-editors or the newsreader) if it is to be included in the next edition of a newspaper, magazine or the next broadcast bulletin.
    • Delay A device whereby transmission of a live programme can be delayed by a few seconds. Usually used as a precaution against obscenities.
    • Delayed drop A narrative technique used in print journalism in which the most newsworthy fact of the story is not placed in the introduction, but further down the text, hence ‘delayed’. This enables the journalist to use the intro to catch the readers' attention by intriguing them with ‘human interest’, or by building suspense, e.g: ‘When John Doe left his tidy bungalow in Surbiton, bang on 8.07 a.m. as normal, there was no clue that within 20 minutes his life would be changed forever.’.
    • Digital (see also Digitization in concepts). It describes the system by
    • which data is processed in combinations of the digits zero and one, meaning information is transmitted much faster and in a higher quality than previously possible.
    • Digital multiplex A hierarchical system allowing digital transmission of many different radio stations simultaneously.
    • Director In a studio, the person in control of the transmission gallery. On location, the person in control of what is to be filmed.
    • DNS The global Domain Name System (or Server or Service) helps users find their way around the internet by replacing the Internet Protocol (IP) address of a website with a domain name (also known as a web address or URL), making it far easier to remember than a series of numbers. Domain names, an example of which is http://www.bbc.co.uk, are registered through a registration agent. Information about specific domain names (including whether a particular one is available to register) and IP addresses can be obtained from one of the WHOIS search engines, such as http://www.allwhois.com.
    • Doorstepping Journalists knocking on doors, and hanging around people's homes and workplaces, when attempting to interview, photograph or film them.
    • Dreamweaver One of the most popular types of web-authoring software, Macromedia Dreamweaver can be used to create and design web pages. Packages like this are known as WYSIWYG – what you see is what you get.
    • Drive time Periods of the day such as morning, lunchtime and late afternoon which coincide with peak commuter travel, when more people listen to the radio in their cars.
    • Dub 1: To make a copy of an item, a programme or an audio source. 2: To add sound to a pre-recorded television item.
    • Dummy An edition of a newspaper or magazine which is not published, but which is a trial run/test product for a publication due to be launched or one being redesigned.
    • Duration Exact length in minutes and/or seconds of an item or programme.
    • Early edition See First edition (below).
    • Ears Adverts which appear on either side of a newspaper's masthead (see below), i.e. in the top corners of its front page.
    • Editing The process of choosing material from a number of sources to go into a finished item, or choosing items to make up a programme.
    • Editorial, editorialize Editorial is a word which, confusingly, has several meanings. An ‘editorial department’ is the physical space within a workplace where journalists work. ‘Editorial’ material (when the term is used generally) is that part of the content of a publication which is produced by journalists, e.g. news, sport, features but not adverts. But ‘an editorial’ is a ‘leader’ (see below), i.e. a comment piece reflecting the publication's viewpoints. ‘To editorialize’ is to make partisan comment in a journalistic context, and therefore to depart from impartiality.
    • Effects (FX) Sound recorded on location or taken from an effects library to give an audio illustration that adds to the story, e.g. birdsong, roadworks.
    • Electronic In the digital age, this often relates to applications and activities involving computers and the internet. It is usually shortened to ‘e’, for example in email.
    • Email (see also in concepts) Electronic messages exchanged between internet users on a one-to-one or one-to-many basis. They usually contain text, but can also carry attachments, including multimedia files.
    • Encryption This involves the coding or scrambling of (usually sensitive or confidential) electronic information so it can be read only by the recipient for whom it is intended, assuming that person has the correct decoding key. One of its major uses is on secure websites.
    • ENG Electronic newsgathering using portable cameras or camcorders that record pictures and sound to the same source.
    • ENPS Electronic News Production System. Developed by Associated Press and used by major broadcasters including the BBC and ITN, for radio and television, it manages scripts, wire services, running orders and bulletin clips. Material can be called up by any journalist on demand.
    • Exclusive: a story of significant newsworthiness, initially only present in a single newspaper. Paying a fee to a source often ensures exclusive rights to a story. Other newspapers often attempt to undermine a competitor's exclusive with a spoiler.
    • Exposé, exposure A piece of investigative journalism which reveals a scandal.
    • Fade To gradually lower or increase the volume on sound until it becomes audible or inaudible, or to gradually dim pictures to either white or black.
    • FAQ This stands for ‘frequently-asked questions’ and is usually a text-based page providing answers for a pre-defined set of questions which a visitor to a website might be expected to ask, such as how to use the site or where to find things. Other uses for FAQs include giving specific information about video games and company information in general.
    • Feed Supply of a programme or programme items over a remote connection such as ISDN, satellite or mobile links vehicle.
    • File extension Text and multimedia files (including web pages and documents) all have extensions, a dot followed by two or more letters after the name, which indicates to operating systems and browsers what type it is and the application needed to open it. For example, in Windows all Microsoft Word files end in .doc for document. Other common file extensions include GIF (Graphic Interchange Format), JPG or JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) and PDF (Portable Document Format). There are also compressed files, which have extensions such as .MPEG (Moving Pictures Experts Group) and .MP3 or MPEG3 (audio files); these can only be opened using decompression software. Most web pages and documents end in .htm or .html.
    • Filing stories A news story is ‘filed’ when a reporter has sent it, as complete as possible, to the newsdesk.
    • Fillers Relatively unimportant items of varying duration used as stand-bys to bring a programme up to the correct length.
    • First Edition/Early Edition The first version of a newspaper to be produced. Daily newspapers update throughout the night with a final (usually fourth or fifth) edition printed early morning. The edition of the paper is usually indicated on the cover, often by a series of stars. Because newspapers have to be transported, readers living further away from the printing presses are more likely to buy an earlier edition.
    • Fluff Mistake in newsreading or programme presentation.
    • FM Frequency modulation. A term associated with analogue broadcasting on VHF and a description of how the sound signal gets to the transmitter frequency.
    • FoC Father of the Chapel An employee (male) elected by fellow trade union members to lead the chapel (see above) at a media workplace, and therefore the person most involved in negotiations with management. If a woman is elected to this role, she is known as the Mother of the Chapel.
    • Fog index The Gunning Fog index is one of the formulae designed to measure the ‘readability’ of text in the English language. It was devised by Robert Gunning, a consultant to newspapers and magazines, who was a crusader against jargon. It involves counting, in samples of text, the total of certain types of multi-syllable word, and the number of sentences. Application of the formula gives the number of years in education required to read and understand the text easily. A 1989 survey suggested a reader needed 8.5 years of education to understand the Sun newspaper, (i.e. if schooling began when the reader was aged five, the Sun required the reading age of a 13-year-old) and around 12 years of education (i.e. the reading age of a 17-year-old) to easily understand The Times.
    • Fold The fold necessarily made in a broadsheet paper to transport it easily and display it for sale. The most important stories on a page will be ‘above the fold’, where most easily seen.
    • Foldback Means of allowing presenters in the studio to hear programme output in the studio while keeping the microphones live.
    • Follow up An item based on a story that's already been published or broadcast, but saying something new about it.
    • Foot in the door A general reference to use of robust, persuasive tactics by journalists door-stepping (see above) people reluctant to speak to them, including literally placing a foot against a door's jamb to prevent it being closed in the journalist's face.
    • Format 1: Style and look of a programme. 2: Type of technical material used for recording, e.g. digital video tape, minidisk, BETA, VHS.
    • Freebie Products (e.g. CDs by pop bands) or services (e.g. a holiday trip) supplied free to journalists or their media employer to encourage them to provide favourable publicity for such goods or services.
    • Freelance (see also in concepts) A journalist who works on a shift or piecemeal basis for a number of media organizations, rather than full-time for just one. Also known as a ‘casual’.
    • FTP File Transfer Protocol is a tool for sending and retrieving information on the internet; it can also be used for uploading files such as web pages to a server. Formally, it is one of the main sets of rules governing the transfer of information across the internet.
    • Gallery (Control room) A room adjacent to a studio from where production and technical operations are controlled during transmission of a programme. A gallery will typically contain monitors for studio cameras and outside sources, sound and vision mixing desks and computing equipment linked to the newsroom.
    • General view (GV) A wide camera shot usually used to establish a location.
    • GNS General News Service. The BBC's internal service of national and international stories fed to local and regional radio newsrooms.
    • Graphics Computer-generated captions and treated pictures that explain aspects of television news stories that do not lend themselves to filmed material.
    • Hack Slightly derogatory, slang term for a hard-nosed male reporter (female hacks are, still more condescendingly, labelled ‘hackettes’). Hack can imply that journalists are jaded and venal rather than meticulous and idealistic, but may also be used to denote, in certain contexts, an experienced journalist. Characteristics include being hard-hearted, uninterested in developing friendships or being popular and ruthlessly pursuing the truth. The hack is not just fascinated by war zones, ‘he goes there on his holidays’; hacks don't just seek the truth, they're ‘obsessed by it’ (http://news.serbianunity.net).
    • Handout Press release or other publicity material.
    • Handover 1: Briefing sheet from programme editors or producers going off shift to those coming on. 2: Words used by a presenter to signal the end of their contribution.
    • Head of Content One of the senior executives among journalists in a media organization. As a job description, its scope varies between organizations, but usually denotes responsibility to oversee the quality of journalistic (news and features) content in the longer term, and to ensure it is geared to the target audience.
    • Hertz (Hz) Frequency of sound measured in cycles per second. 1000 hertz is a kilohertz (kHz).
    • Homepage This is usually the main page of a website and the one that a visitor will first see. It often contains introductory material (detailing the aims and purposes of the site) and links to the other main areas of the website.
    • HTML A universal coded language called Hypertext Markup Language used to create standard web pages and format the content in a way in which it can be viewed in a browser on different computer operating systems. HTML can be coded by hand, but this can be time-consuming and laborious, and the process is quicker and easier using web-authoring software like Macromedia Dreamweaver.
    • HTTP Hypertext Transfer Protocol defines how information is formatted and transferred from servers to browsers so web pages can be viewed.
    • Hyperlink (see also Hypertext in concepts) Hyperlinks, in the form of short text or graphics, are used to connect web pages and documents within the same website in addition to acting as gateways to other sites and destinations elsewhere on the internet. Email addresses can also be used as links.
    • Ident See Jingle (below).
    • Intake Term for a newsgathering team contributing to one or more programmes.
    • Internet (see also in concepts) A huge network of computers and smaller networks linked worldwide which allows people to access information and contact each other.
    • Interview (see also in concepts) An interview is usually a dialogue between two people, one of whom is questioning the other. In the case of a journalist, this would be in an attempt to find out information from the person being interviewed.
    • Intro The first paragraph of a report that grabs the audience and gives the main point of the story.
    • In vision (I/V) Instruction on a television script saying that the presenter should be seen on camera at that point.
    • In-words (In-cue) First few words of a recorded report written on a cue sheet and useful for checking that the right item is being played.
    • IP Internet Protocol relates to a unique series of numbers (between 0 and 255) which are assigned to every computer (and website) linking up to the internet. Through the DNS, the IP is translated into the URL and vice versa.
    • ISDN Integrated Services Digital Network. A way of sending digital audio signals over the telephone system.
    • ISP (see also in concepts) Internet Service Providers, also known as IAPs (Internet Access Providers), offer varying levels of internet access – and services such as email and web hosting – to individuals, organizations and companies, while many of them also have websites which act as portals to the world wide web. Domain names are usually registered though an ISP which will submit the application to Nominet UK or another international registry. ISPs are connected to one another through Network Access Points (NAPs). AOL (America Online) is one of the best-known ISPs, of which there are thousands globally.
    • Jingle Short piece of music used to identify a radio or television station, introduce a news bulletin. Also known as ident, sting, or stab.
    • Jump cut An edit which destroys visual continuity and makes the subject appear to ‘jump’ from one position in the frame to another.
    • Junior reporter A reporter who is not yet fully trained.
    • LAN As suggested by their name, Local Area Networks are much smaller than WANs in that they cover a relatively small geographical area and are typically used in offices and universities with computers connected to a server. LANs exchange data at high speeds and allow users to share information.
    • Lead The main story on a news page, therefore having the biggest headline.
    • Leader A comment piece in a newspaper which reflects its viewpoint on events, and any political allegiance it has. It appears in fixed position (in the ‘leader column’, on the ‘leader page’) traditionally with the paper's ‘masthead’ (see below) displayed over it, to add gravitas. Editors hope it helps form readers' opinions. A ‘leader writer’ is a specialist journalist, deemed informed and witty enough to write leaders, though editors also write their own. Most newspapers usually include two to three leaders, one of which will be shorter and about a lighter subject.
    • Legs 1: Colloquial term for a camera tripod. 2: Also, in a figurative use, a news story is said to have ‘legs’ if it proves to be a running story (see below), i.e. there are fresh, newsworthy developments, each justifying a further news report, over a long period.
    • Level The amount of sound registered by a recorder or mixing desk and adjusted to ensure there is no distortion.
    • Library The place in a media organization where any physical archive (see above) of cuttings or photographs or other reference material is kept, to help journalists research their work.
    • Lift To ‘lift’ a news story is to publish, without checking for factual accuracy, material already published by another outfit. It is poor journalistic practice, often done under pressure of a deadline (see above). There may be libel problems if the original story proves false, and copyright issues if phrases are ‘lifted’ entire.
    • Lighting rig/grid Construction of metal bars and cabling suspended from a studio ceiling to hold lights.
    • Link Short section of script read by a presenter connecting one item to another or bridging between interviews.
    • Links vehicle Mobile production studio used to transmit sound and pictures via microwave to base.
    • Live Happening now.
    • Masthead The title-piece of a newspaper, i.e. its name as displayed on its front page, and any artwork or logo used to embellish or project the name, e.g. the lion and unicorn coat of arms used by The Times, or the Daily Express crusader figure. Also used originally to denote the title and artwork as displayed, inside the paper, above the ‘leader column’ (see above).
    • Mic/mike Microphone.
    • MoC Mother of the Chapel See FoC Father of the Chapel, above.
    • Monitor Screen showing television pictures from one or more sources.
    • MPEG An abbreviation of the Motion Pictures Expert Group – a collection of some 350 industries and universities charged with the development of video and audio encoding standards. MPEG refers to the standards used for coding audio-visual information (e.g., movies, video, music) in a digital compressed format.
    • MP3 or MPEG3 An audio coding format. Using MP3, a user can make a data reduction of 1:12, while still maintaining original CD sound quality.
    • Multimedia (see also in concepts) A combination of different mediums to present content in varying forms. The internet can facilitate multimedia in its fullest sense by being able to accommodate text, audio, still pictures and graphics, animations and video (which can be streamed, meaning it is downloading while being played). However, browsers are not always able to play all files and plug-ins like Macromedia Flash or Apple QuickTime are usually needed to access certain media like music and video clips.
    • Natural sound Sound recorded at the same time as the pictures.
    • Newsdesk The desk or desks in a newsroom where the news editor and his/her deputies sit. It is the hub of the news-gathering operation, where reporters are allocated tasks and to which they send their copy (see above) to be checked, before any subbing (see below).
    • News flash Interruption of normal programming to bring details of an important breaking story.
    • Newsgroups Places on the internet where people can make contact with others sharing the same interests or find out about a specific subject. They can be useful sources of news and information for journalists.
    • NIB News in Brief. Short news stories, usually each of a single paragraph, usually laid out as a column down the edge of a newspaper page.
    • Noddies Shots of a reporter listening carefully to an interviewee taken after the interview to be intercut later if necessary to hide edits.
    • Non-linear editing Editing of film or video out of sequence, rather like a word processor cuts and pastes. Pre-digital computerized edit systems could only assemble pieces in order.
    • OB Outside broadcast.
    • On message A phrase suggesting that the person speaking and expressing a view is in broad agreement with the ideas of the larger group to which they belong; they are ‘on message’. Recently, the phrase has been used to describe the congruence between MPs and parties (especially New Labour) during a period of growing party centralization and party reliance on media-based communication strategies to convey its policies to voters.
    • OOV Out of vision. An instruction on television scripts that the presenter is reading the script, but not seen on camera.
    • Op Ed Page The page, or pages, of a newspaper containing the opinion columns and editorials.
    • Opt-in/opt-out Switching between local and networked programmes. Local programmes opt in to the networked programming and then opt out to their own programmes. Opt-out is also used to designate a point where a pre-recorded item can be ended early.
    • OS Outside source. A programming point remote from the main transmission studio.
    • Out-cue/out words Final few words of a news report. A ‘standard out-cue’ is where the reporter signs off with his/her name, organization and location.
    • Output 1: The team of people preparing a programme for transmission. 2: General programming.
    • Out-takes Discarded film material. Can show up embarrassingly at Christmas parties.
    • Overlay/underlay The process of matching a recorded soundtrack with pictures.
    • Package Pre-recorded radio or television news report or feature lasting between one and three minutes comprising several elements including interviews, commentary, natural sound, effects and, in the case of television, visual sequences.
    • Packet Data sent over networks like the internet is divided into small packets of information which are reassembled at their destination, a process described as packet-switching.
    • PasB Programme as broadcast. A written record of the programme content kept to ensure that performers and contributors are paid. Particularly important if snatches of music are used.
    • Pay off Last paragraph of script in a new item which summarizes the story and points to potential new developments.
    • Peg A published allusion to a recent news story which, because the allusion can grab audience attention, can be used early in a feature examining the story's wider context, or in any related, human interest piece. Such features are said figuratively to ‘hang’ on the ‘peg’, i.e. the allusion justifies their publication that day.
    • Phone-in Common radio programming format where listeners ring in with points of view.
    • Picture spread Space in a magazine or newspaper given over primarily to several photographs about a particular event or subject.
    • Pick up pic A photograph not taken by a media organization photographer but collected from (i.e. ‘picked up’ from) a member of the public (e.g. from their family album) or another agency (e.g. the police) to illustrate a news story or feature.
    • Piece to camera Information given by a reporter on location direct to camera, usually used to bridge from one point to another or bring the piece to a conclusion. Also known as stand-upper or stand-up.
    • Pitch Trying to sell an idea for an item or a programme to a commissioning editor or producer.
    • Pixel A single dot of visual information. Pixels combine to create the picture.
    • Plug-ins Computer software which can be downloaded to add extra functionality to browsers so users can receive multimedia information such as animation, audio and video. Examples of plug-ins include Shockwave Player, Real Player and QuickTime.
    • Prefade Listening to an item through the studio desk immediately before transmission to check that sound levels are correct.
    • Presenter The person fronting the programme either in vision or behind the microphone. See anchor (above).
    • Press pack A group of journalists, all chasing the same story.
    • Producer The person in charge of the practicalities involved in a period of programming, a particular programme, or particular item.
    • Prof button Profanity, or obscenity, button. A device whereby a programme can instantly be taken out of delay to prevent transmission of an obscenity.
    • Promo On-air promotion of a station or programme. Also known as trail.
    • Prospects A list of potential news items prepared each day by the forward planning desk. Forms the basis of daily editorial meetings.
    • Puff Derogative term for text produced by journalists or public relations agencies which praises, without sufficient reason, substance or objectivity, a contact (see above) or client, and which therefore has no real journalistic value for the audience.
    • Q&A A reporter talking live to a presenter about a story they've been covering. See Two-way.
    • Radio car Mobile radio studio used for live or pre-recorded location items.
    • Reporter A journalist who researches and writes or broadcasts news stories.
    • Reporting restriction An order made by a court or legal tribunal, or enshrined in statute, which places a legal limitation on what can be published, e.g. the British press cannot normally identify the victims of rape, or children as being in social services' care, or publish comment about any ongoing criminal case.
    • ROT Record off transmission. Recording made of on-air output.
    • RSL Restricted Service Licence. A short term broadcast lasting up to 28 days licensed by Ofcom. Used by community groups, student radio, special event teams, football clubs or to test the viability of a radio service in any given area.
    • Run A run is a continuous batch of production on a printing press, to produce a set number of copies of newspapers, magazines, books, etc.
    • Running copy Copy (see above) which must be filed (see above) by a reporter (see above) rapidly in several stages, because of developments in a fast-moving event and because the deadline (see above) is so close that the sub-editors (see below) must make an immediate start to sub some of it, before the event is over, e.g. a blow-by-blow report of a football match, or the Chancellor's Budget speech.
    • Running order Written list of the items within a programme, their durations and the exact order they appear.
    • Running story This term has two distinct meanings. First, a fast-moving news event, or one in which the key facts are not quickly clear, which generates the need for running copy (see above) or updates to later editions of the same day's newspaper or to a day's broadcast bulletins, e.g. news ‘breaking’ about a major disaster. Second, a news event which generates, because of related events, further developments or fresh revelations, media coverage over a period of days, months or even years (e.g. the gradual implosion of Prince Charles's and Princess Diana's marriage).
    • Rushes Unedited raw material recorded onto camera.
    • RX Recording.
    • Scoop, Scooped A scoop is an exclusive (see above). A media organization is ‘scooped’ when a rival publishes a news story first.
    • Search engine A website which uses software or humans to search documents, files and pages on the internet and then index the data in huge databases, allowing users to look for information usually by keyword or directory (or both). Google, which also has an image search facility, is widely regarded as the most popular search engine in the world.
    • Senior reporter A reporter who has completed his/her formal training (but who is probably still in his/her early twenties!). See also Junior reporter (above).
    • Server A computer usually connected permanently to the internet and which has huge storage space. It stores files and documents (including web pages), and runs programs, which can all be accessed and used remotely by other (client) computers on the same network. The term server can also refer to the software running on the computer.
    • Shot list Content and duration details of each section of a package to enable a script to be written accurately.
    • Signposting In a news story it means emphasizing the central point, amplifying it logically, repeating key points where necessary and summarizing with a pay-off that takes the story forward. May also be used within programmes to trail forward to upcoming items to keep the audience interested.
    • Slug See Catchline (above).
    • SMS Short Message Service. This facilitates the sending of text messages (for example, news alerts) from one mobile device to another (and also from websites). Multimedia Service (MMS) messages can contain pictures, audio and video though more elaborate mobiles are needed to send them.
    • Snapper Slang term for a press photographer.
    • Snatch picture A news photograph taken without the subject's consent and usually, therefore, taken in a brief (i.e. ‘snatched’) opportunity, e.g. before the subject, realizing what is happening, runs or hides their face.
    • Soundbite A terse, accessible and memorable way of expressing a more complex idea. Since the mid-1980s, soundbites have been used by politicians to convey complex policy ideas in a simple slogan. Ahead of the 1997 general election, for example, New Labour leader Tony Blair claimed that if elected, the party would be ‘Tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime’. The party also claimed that its three policy priorities were ‘Education, education, education’. See Clip (above).
    • Spam A form of internet abuse, most commonly referring to unrequested electronic mail often advertising products not usually on general sale like Viagra, while some provide links to non-mainstream websites such as pornographic ones. Spam can also be sent to mobile devices via SMS. The origins of this use of the term spam, which can also refer to junk advertising messages sent to a bulletin board or newsgroup – thereby preventing normal ‘conversation’ – have been attributed to a Monty Python sketch in which a group of people shouted ‘spam’ to stop others from talking. Spam, a registered trademark, is a tinned luncheon meat produced by Hormel Foods Corporation.
    • Spike The place where news stories or features deemed not to merit or be suitable for publication, or which arrive too late, are deposited. A ‘spiked’ story is therefore a rejected one. In bygone decades, these were literally impaled on metal spikes on the newsdesk (see above) or subbing desks. Now ‘the spike’ is part of the editorial computer system.
    • Splash The main story on a newspaper's front page.
    • Spoiler, see concept.
    • Stand upper See piece to camera.
    • Sting 1: See Jingle. 2: ‘Sting’ is a term used of investigative journalism which, in a denouement involving subterfuge, exposes a rogue or hypocrite. Also, the term ‘sting’, in a libel case, refers to the most damaging allegation published.
    • Subbing Re-writing and/or editing news stories and features, while checking them for factual errors or other legal dangers, to make them fit the allocated space in a newspaper, magazine or website, or in broadcast airtime. Also, writing headlines and designing page lay-out, incorporating any photographs.
    • Sub-editor A journalist who subs. See Subbing.
    • Talent Colloquial and not altogether flattering term for television presenters and reporters.
    • Talkback Audio link enabling gallery staff to talk to presenters through their ear piece. Open talkback enables presenters to hear everything going on in the gallery and other areas. Closed (switch) talkback means they'll only hear instructions meant for them. May also link different control areas.
    • Talking head An interviewee. Also used disparagingly with reference to a programme or item that has too much expert opinion at the expense of real people.
    • TBU Telephone balance unit. A device which enables interviews to be conducted in a studio over the telephone. The interviewer can talk to the interviewee through the desk microphone, balance the sound levels and record the interview into the computer.
    • Teaser Short headline or sequence of headlines at the start of a programme designed to pique the audience's curiosity and keep them interested.
    • Throw line A line of script immediately preceding an interview clip that leads into the gist of the interviewee's point without repeating it.
    • Treatment Detailed written version of a planned programme or item. It will typically include details of interviewees, locations, visual or audio sequences. Usually used for long form programming.
    • TX Transmission.
    • URL The Uniform Resource Locator is another name for a web page address (e.g. http://www.bbc.co.uk).
    • VFD Verified Free Distribution An accepted industry standard for certifying the validity of distribution data for free newspapers which are hand-delivered to individual households in a defined geographical area.
    • Virus Programs or scripts sent electronically, often to many email addresses at once, usually with the intention of causing loss of information through destruction of files on the recipient computer. They are the most common security threat on the internet, although anti-virus software can be used to combat the problem.
    • Vision mixer Operator in the gallery who controls fades, dissolves and cuts between different sources during a programme's transmission.
    • Voice over Commentary recorded over pictures by an unseen reporter.
    • Voicer, voice piece A way of telling stories in a radio bulletin that uses a named reporter's voice – ‘The details from John Smith’. There are usually more details than in a copy story and it allows a change of voice from the newsreader.
    • Vox pop Literally ‘vox populi’ or ‘voice of the people’. Street interviews conducted as a straw poll of public opinion and edited for transmission.
    • WAN The internet is the best – and biggest – example of a Wide Area Network which refers to a computer network that spans a large geographical area. They tend to be slower operationally than LANs.
    • Waveform (wav) Digital display of sound on a computer screen.
    • Wildtrack Recording of the ambient sound at any location to be used later to add atmosphere to an edited piece.
    • Wipe 1: An editing device which transitions from one picture to another by making it look as though the second wipes the first off the screen. 2: Erasing material.
    • Wire A stream of stories flowing into a news organization from a major newsagency e.g. the Press Association or Reuters. In the age of the telegraphy these arrived literally by wire, but today are sent and displayed by computer.
    • Wireless technology The attractive prospect of accessing the internet or sending and processing multimedia information without the need for cables and wires has led to a proliferation in the use of mobile telephone devices – including Portal Digital Assistants (PDAs) – and wireless networking thanks to major advances in technology.
    • World Wide Web (see also in concepts) The public part of the internet containing millions of websites and documents.
    • WPB Waste paper bin. Where most of a newsroom's incoming mail ends up.
    • Wrap A way of telling stories in a radio news bulletin which ‘wraps’ the reporter's voice either side of a short interview clip.
    • Yawn factor An informal measure of how boring an item or programme is.

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