The characteristics of TV and radio journalism

The work of journalists dealing with television and radio is fundamentally similar to the work of press journalists. The same principles and values of news production and conveying information are still valid.

The same principles of journalism are relevant no matter what news channel a journalist works for, but there are differences. One is that a good radio journalist is required to know recording and publication technology and needs to have clear vocal expression. A television journalist is also required to have a pleasing outward appearance.

In television work, the news value is determined by the visual aspect of the topic in addition to the news criteria related to press work. A common objective is that some footage from the location itself or some relevant illustrative footage is available, but often programmes have to resort to so-called talking heads or pundits.

However, there is no need to have footage on everything and everybody you talk of. The reporter may handle abstract topics by showing images of activities related to the topic while they narrate the information. Nevertheless, the tone of images and the language used should also be compatible with the topic, and the images must be carefully selected. For example, a picture of joyful workers does not match talk on a deteriorating economy.

Tips for addressing audiences verbally on TV or radio

  • Voice and image:
    Support the story without adding ambiguity.
  • Text reading and pronunciation:
    Clear and organised.
  • Vocabulary and grammatical rules:
    Simple, correct and to-the-point.
  • The speed of reporting:
    Slow enough that the viewer can follow the news and understand it the first time.
  • Sound vibrations:
    Compatible with the content and meaningful. For example, a funeral cannot be a subject for any sarcastic tone.


Source: Paul Stanley, Center for Communication, University of Miami Professional Field Guide for TV News; published by Media Development Center – Birzeit University.

Keep Reading:

Tips for a Journalist Working on the FieldNews criteria dictate what we hear in the news

Or go back to the beginning of this section: Journalism; Videography

This article was updated on January 9th 2020.