When I was a younger girl and the attacks of 9/11 began, I remember rushing to my grandpa’s house with my parents so they could watch it on the nightly news.
In the area we lived we couldn’t get cable television, and it wasn’t until a few years later that we got a satellite. I would make my way into the house and hear the buzz of the television in the background; a younger cast of the Today Show giving news in good spirits. It seemed odd at first, but my parents began watching a news cast every evening, and suddenly current events via television broadcast were accessible to me at alarming ease.
Television has become something that most families can’t live without. The demand for good television is a demand for more information. News channels are a vital part of society, and the format in which they create a story has to not only be understandable, but relatable to people. “News packaging has stayed the same. You still need to answer the five what's and how, and tell the story through an interesting, conversational style. However, the technology of putting together that story has changed greatly,” replied Dave Fisher, a professor here at The Ohio State University. Because of increasingly high expectations, news channels have to work around the clock to keep viewers interested and engaged.
(A little blurb about Dave Fisher before I veer off: as a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Fisher found his calling while doing TV broadcast in high school. He worked at five television stations before settling down to teach students at OSU. The first introductory course is all about editing, news packaging, and writing. He teaches higher-level courses as well that get students thinking about film and script writing. When I met him the other day, his passion and experience were very tangible. I’m looking forward to taking one of his classes next quarter.)
Even though the format of news packaging hasn’t changed dramatically, the technology in the industry is advancing rapidly, and the expectations of workers is becoming increasingly higher. The Internet is simply one branch. “What the web has done has allowed news junkies to get their information constantly. The web has also provided viewers from around the world to see a story right now, not hours later” Fisher says. Either way,
news is a commodity, but for most, it’s always been right in front of them.
While many newscasters are beginning to cater more toward personal opinions, or factors like comedy, the organization of an actual news story is still similar to the first broadcasts of CNN, and other influential first journalists. Newscasts such as The Daily Show are simply renovating the industry, while keeping the main format as a guideline.
Perhaps the reason the structure of a news broadcast hasn’t changed is because the method used works. Journalists touch people. They not only are aware of viewer’s emotions, interests, and thoughts, but they know how to provoke, engage, and make viewers come back for more.
News packaging is an art. It can be personalized, but it still revolves around a specific idea. It’s intellectual, strongly presents an opinion or current event, and doesn’t need to take up an entire day; in fact, most news packages are between three to five minutes. In the future, the format of the news more than likely won’t change. However, the content and graphics will consistently improve to keep up with needs of viewers.
Melissa Prax is currently a student at The Ohio State University, majoring in Broadcast Journalism and minoring in Biochemistry. As an editor and commercial producer for the honors and scholars program at OSU, she is continuing to do what she loves in and out of the class room. Her experience and first taste in writing and editing goes back to her high school Interactive Multimedia class. Since then, she is continuing to branch out her skills with new opportunities.