New research on what TV journalists do online

Whether you’re a TV reporter or producer,  it’s quite likely that you will also be working for your station’s website, but just what duties are most common?   New research from Michael Cremedas and Suzanne Lysak of Syracuse University provides important insight.

According to the study, knowing how to write “print style” or “Web-friendly” stories is a must.  The majority of stations (85%) reported that their producers “frequently” or “sometimes” wrote Web-friendly stories.  Almost all the stations (93%) said their reporters “frequently” or “sometimes” write Web-friendly stories.

Producers, in particular, are also often required to resize or reformat still images and video for the Web.   Producers at well over half (59%) the stations “frequently” or “sometimes” work with still images; similarly, half of the stations said reporters “frequently” or “sometimes” are manipulating still images for Web use.   These findings reinforce the need for multimedia journalists to have an understanding of Photoshop or similar progams.

Producers and reporters also are resizing/reformatting video for the Web. Over half the stations (52%) said their producers perform that task “frequently” or “sometimes.” Reporters work with Web video slightly less: about forty-percent do.

When it comes to higher-level Web production, newscast producers and reporters are less likely to do as much.

We defined multi-media production as creating an integrated package for the Web (such as slide shows) that includes such elements as text, graphics, still or motion video and sound… Less than twenty-percent of stations said producers performed such tasks “frequently.” A third said producers did multi-media “sometimes.”  Just over half the stations reported that producers “never” do multi-media packages.

The findings were similar for reporters. Less than a fourth of the stations (21%) said their reporters were involved in multi-media production “frequently.” About a third said its reporters “sometimes” did it, and at close to half of the stations (45%) reporters “never” did multi-media.

Producers and reporters were also embedding raw documents in stories, adding links and making some use of HTML, but not at very high levels.

Photojournalists were most likely to be involved in putting  additional materials from reporter packages such as extended raw video, natural sound pieces or full sound interviews on the website.

So, how important are Web skills when it comes to hiring for TV jobs?  More than a third (38%) of news directors say such proficiency is “extremely important” when they decide on a new producer hire. Over half (53%) say “somewhat important.” Very similar results were found for reporter hires.  Forty percent of news directors consider new media skills “extremely important” when making hiring decisions, over half (53%) say “somewhat important.”

The research paper, “New Media Skills Competency Expected of TV Reporters and Producers: A Survey” was presented at the AEJMC convention in Denver.  Thanks to Nancy Dupont for the tip and to Suzanne Lysak for sharing the paper.


6 comments for “New research on what TV journalists do online

  1. Nielsen Ferry
    August 31, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    I first heard about this trend a year or so ago when I took media writing. I suppose it makes sense that as the technology generation enters the work force fewer people are needed to preform jobs that used to involve multiple individuals.

  2. Jessie Wilks
    September 2, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    I think it’s important to familiarize yourself with the different styles of writing, simply because it makes you more valuable as a journalist. As mentioned above, with broadcasting stations and newspaper circulations downsizing, it is imperative to be a jack-of-all trades.

    Extra skills and tools that a person may have can only help them, and even assist in organizing time-management.

  3. Daniel Wilkerson
    September 2, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    I think Wenger is on target with this article. College students entering the work force should have marketable skills. Marketable skills are the key these days. The days of being an expert in one area of a craft are long gone.

  4. Deb Wenger
    September 12, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Thanks, all! Although you’re right that in many ways this is nothing really “new,” you’d be surprised how many instructors and journalism programs continue to downplay the role of the Web in the broadcast curriculum.

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