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Module 13: Editing and Producing

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Producers, Sub-editors and Bias

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Editing and Producing

Producers, Sub-editors and Bias

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Producers, Sub-editors and Bias

Importance of the News Producer

The news producer has an essential role to play in any news organization.

Their job is to add depth to the content being produced, make sure it is well researched, arrange interviews, manage resources, assist reporters and correspondents with logistics involved in gathering and processing news, and oversee quality control.

They will ensure that all significant angles are followed up, and that related issues are investigated. Their job is to take the overview.

Bridge

Bridge

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Bridge

In many cases producers are the bridge between the editors and journalists, ensuring that both can do their jobs efficiently and effectively. Some media organizations try to cope without news producers.
They expect the journalists and correspondents to take care of all their production needs. Of course the stories will still get produced, but the likelihood is that they will not be as thorough, that effort and resources might be wasted, and, that, sometimes, deadlines won’t be met.

Producers Role

Producers Role

Producers Role

Qualities

Qualities

Producers, Sub-editors and Bias

Importance of the News Producer

At times the news producers will be offering support from the newsroom, at other times they will be in the field. When they are working in the field, the relationship with the journalist will probably be one-to-one.
However, when they are working from the newsroom, a good news producer might be able to help several journalists at the same time. This is where the efficiencies start to show.

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Qualities

In media organizations a news producer is a specialist job, requiring someone with a keen eye for a news story, has great research skills, can demonstrate excellent organizational abilities, and who is able to see the bigger picture.
The news producer is a career-progression role between journalists and the editors. If they have worked as a journalist, both in the newsroom and in the field, they will be able to understand the pressures journalists are facing and will be able to provide the support they need.

Producers Role

A journalist should be able to gather most of the information they need in order to produce a story. However, they are often out of the office where access to computers can be a problem.
They might be working to tight deadlines, and unable to research adequately. Perhaps they need to contact someone at short notice but don’t have the time to make the calls.
These are the times when a news producer, sitting in the office or working in the field, is invaluable. They can take on all of these responsibilities.

News producers ensure that the appropriate value is added to the story based on audience needs and strategic business logic.

Producers, Sub-editors and Bias

Efficiencies and Savings

For media managers, a news producer can result in efficiencies and savings.

They can help avoid duplication of effort, they can help manage scarce resources, they can help schedule editing to remove log jams and better utilize downtime, and they can act as a reference point where both senior and junior staff can turn in order to assess the status of a story and when it is expected to be ready.

Planning

Planning

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Planning

The news gathering process involves sourcing ideas, planning coverage, assigning teams, structuring packages, monitoring the web, working in the field and coming back alive and well.
Planners are often the forgotten heroes and heroines of the newsroom; they are often elbowed aside in the rush for today's stories. That's a mistake. Planned material should not be dropped without good reason. Planners should be encouraged to keep coming up with ideas for special reports, background investigations, time-consuming graphics and other projects that require effort.

Sub-Editors

Sub-Editors

Sub-Editors

Producers, Sub-editors and Bias

Role of the Sub-Editor

Your aim as a journalist should be to give the sub-editor what they want. This is determined by two things: the style guide and common sense.

To understand the role of a sub-editor, it helps to step back further and ask the question, "What is the main aim of a newspaper or magazine?"

Every publication has its target market and succeeds only by giving that potential audience what it wants to read. Sub-editors understand this agenda and process copy to serve it.

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Sub-Editors

The people who ensure that the readers get what they want are the sub-editors.
They do this by conforming to an overarching and prescribed writing tone; from vocabulary to grammar, from humour to pathos, from approval to condemnation. This tone differs from publication to publication as determined by its readership and style guide.
The style guide exists to ensure conformity and sub-editors will be taken to task if they deviate from it. As a journalist remember to read the published copy and compare it with what you submitted. See where corrections have been made to conform with style and make a note not to repeat such mistakes.

Producers, Sub-editors and Bias

Graphics and Visuals

Newspaper reporters sometimes resent the use of graphics because they take up space, forcing stories to be shorter. But good graphics add to the visual appeal of the newspaper, attract readers’ attention, and make stories more understandable.

As newspaper designer Ron Reason puts it, “graphics are information, not decoration.”

However, every graphic must have a purpose.

Graphics

Graphics

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Graphics

A graphic should enhance the reader or viewer’s understanding of the story, which means the editor must fully understand the story before designing or choosing a graphic to go along with it. Graphic artists usually produce the visual images; the role of the editor is to conceptualize the graphic, find the information it should contain or illustrate, and ascertain its accuracy.

Graphics can convey basic facts or illustrate a process. Imagine you are reporting on air pollution in your country. A map could be used to show where the air is most unhealthy. An illustration could be used to show how air pollution affects the lungs. Both types of graphics work just as well for broadcast as they do for print.

Producers, Sub-editors and Bias

Editorial Bias

Deliberate Bias

Deliberate Bias

Allegations of bias in the news media happen all the time. Politicians and public interest groups may regard the omission of certain news items or issues from newspapers and news bulletins as a deliberate act of bias.

They may also feel the same about the angle given to a story or the choice made about its place in a page or a bulletin.

More often than not, journalists make these choices on the basis of sound professional judgement. journalists must strive for fairness and for decisions made solely on the basis of news value.

Unintentional Bias

Unintentional Bias

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Unintentional Bias

Even media critics, if pressed, would acknowledge that the media cannot be entirely free of bias. They would accept, for instance,that the editorial column, which serves as the institutional voice of a newspaper on a wide range of issues, must of necessity be biased because it expresses an opinion, even though such opinion must always be based on confirmed facts.
Nor would they object to the right of columnists to express their opinions, even if they disagree with them. Generally, what is objected to is a lack of balance in news columns, which are supposed to contain objective reportage, as far as that can be achieved.

Deliberate Bias

Sometimes slight, sometimes excessive, this is the result of a conscious decision by the reporter, editor or proprietor to be partisan rather than even-handed.
Examples are the suppression of essential or important facts and the deliberate distortion of other facts through wrong or improper emphasis. Bias happens also when, for instance, newsreaders summarize speeches of the opposition with little or no footage whereas they run long footage of the speech by the ruling party candidate.

Priorities

Priorities

Priorities

Political Pressure

Political Pressure

Producers, Sub-editors and Bias

Editorial Bias

Self-regulation and internal control procedures are always better than control by a press council stocked with "wise men" recruited outside of the profession and often endowed with legal or punitive powers.

Bias should be fought by media organizations. A process of checks and balances can be set up within the newsroom itself in order to correct imbalance in reporting.

Some media organizations have adopted operating procedures that guide journalists in the day-to-day dilemmas of their work.

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Priorities

Bias is also about news priorities. We can choose to focus on a particular issue, or we can join the herd in following a particular controversy, or we can decide to refrain from getting behind the glitz and the glamour of personality or character politics.
Bias occurs when we focus on the internal dynamics of an election campaign, on its "horse race" model instead of digging deep into the most substantive issues of the day.

Beware of allowing a gap to grow between your news values and the nation's real concerns.

Political Pressure

Most journalists might accept that, political pressure exists. Often it is based upon the traditional community of support to which media appeal;

Liberal newspapers tend to be left of centre in their editorial columns Conservative newspapers will favor right of centre politics
The opinions of the editorial columns should not interfere with the process of news gathering, news selection and placement. That is something which journalists always try to respect, and that is difficult for many outside journalism to understand.

Producers, Sub-editors and Bias

Editorial Bias

Rejection

Rejection

The conspiracy theory of deliberate bias is rejected by most journalists as being based on an inadequate knowledge by outsiders, unaware of the editorial process.

Journalists know, too often, that it is lapses of judgement and genuine mistakes, rather than conspiracy, that is usually to blame when things go awry in the newsroom.

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Rejection

Rejecting the notion of conspiracy, one senior newspaper editor has written:
"We do not conspire with outsiders because we are newspaper people -- not politicians, megalomaniacs or political dilettantes. We do not slant news to favor any political party because -- apart from being a fraud on our readers and bad journalism -- to do so is dishonest.

Journalism in its purest form is simply telling the truth, so long as it is in the public interest. We do not conspire with outsiders. We do not write for politicians or parties. We write for people."

End Of Unit