Handbook of Independent Journalism (5) : Broadcast and Online

RADIO, television, and online — or Web-based — journalism are specialized forms with demands and requirements over and above those we have discussed so far.

Broadcast journalists use not only words, but also sound and video in constructing their stories. What they write must be written to be heard, not read, by the audience.

Like their TV counterparts, online journalists can include sound and video in their stories, as well as interactive elements that allow a reader to explore the story at his or her own pace.

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll use the term broadcast in this chapter to describe all radio and television news, whether it’s transmitted over the air, on cable, or via satellite.

Broadcast Story Forms and Terms
The basic broadcast story forms are the “tell” or “reader” story, the “V/O” or voice over, and the “wrap” or “package.”

A “reader” story is just what it appears to be — a story without additional sound bites or video — usually presented by the newscaster or anchor in the studio.

A “V/O” is a television term for a story told with video but no “sound bites,” the broadcast term in English for direct quotes.

The newsreader or anchor will read the script for the story while the video is playing. Adding a sound bite turns a V/O into a “V/O-SOT,” shorthand for sound on tape.

Even though many stations now capture all video digitally without using tape, the abbreviation SOT appears to have stuck. These story forms — reader, V/O, and V/O-SOT — tend to be short: usually less than a minute, and sometimes only 10 or 15 seconds long.

A complete story by a reporter is called a “wrap” in radio and a “package” in television news parlance. It consists of the reporter’s narration, also called “track,” and often includes sound bites and natural sound, sound that occurs naturally on location.

Obviously, the television version has video, which may include graphics, either static or animated.

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