Broadcast Facilities at BGSU

Apparently when I originally tried to put this slideshow onto an entry, the whole post would not show up on my blog.  Let me see if this works now.

Here is a slideshow I put together documenting many of Bowling Green State University’s broadcasting facilities for both radio and television.  Most of these are located in West Hall, which is also where many of the journalism and telecommunications classes are located, although one facility not shown that is not in West Hall is WBGU-TV, Bowling Green’s PBS affiliate, which is located in the Tucker Center for Communications.

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Basic Broadcasting Terminologies

So last Monday I had to take an exam for my Broadcast News class.  Once I completed it, I thought an introduction to some of the vocabulary used in that class (and in the business for that matter) would make for a good blog entry.  Let’s get started with some terminology that is typically referred to in field reporting.

“VO” stands for “voiceover.”  This refers to an anchor or reporter’s voice being played during a piece of field video.  That, of course, is one of the most typical and most important elements of a TV newscast.  The viewers and listeners of your broadcast will need to have the story explained to them through audio, so the VO is extremely important.

“SOT” stands for “sound on tape.”  This day in age, there are many media outlets that no longer use videotape, but you probably knew that already because the times they are a-changin’.  Anyway, SOT refers to an interview sound bite played in a news story.  It is commonly followed by a VO, hence the term VO/SOT: a voiceover followed by a sound bite from an interview.

“PKG” is an abbreviation for the term “package.”  A package is a story put together by a field reporter which consists of a combination of field video, natural sound from the video, a VO, a SOT and a stand-up shot where the reporter stands in front of the camera for a sound bite of his or her own.  And of course a good reporter ends their package by identifying their name and station or network and sometimes where they are reporting from.

“NAT” is short for “natural sound.”  In most field videos and packages, the natural sound from the raw footage will be left in the video.  While most times the anchor or reporter will talk over the NAT sound, there are times when the NAT sound itself will play for a couple of seconds to add to the story.

If you’ve ever watched a newscast with the closed captioning on your TV, you’ve probably seen this terminology before without knowing what it means.  In the past, the closed captions on many local newscasts contained the exact same script as the teleprompters inside the studio, which use all these abbreviations and acronyms on a regular basis.  (Although I think at least some of the local stations I’m familiar with might have gotten rid of some of those abbreviations on their captions in recent years, I’m actually not 100 percent sure.)

So that ends the first part of my blogs on broadcast terminologies.  There will be more to come in future blogs!  And if anyone has any questions about anything I post on this blog, don’t be afraid to leave me a comment!

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BG24 News to Start Next Week

Bowling Green State University’s student-run TV news program BG24 News Live at 5:30 will start for the school year this coming Wednesday, October 13 at 5:30 p.m.  If you live in Wood County, Ohio, and subscribe to Time Warner Cable, you can find this newscast on channel 6 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Some of the things I currently do with BG24 News are reporting, videography, editing, writing and DEKO graphics operation.  Additionally, in the past I have been an anchor and a studio camera operator.  I have worn all kinds of hats in this organization throughout the years I have been attending BGSU.

If you are a BGSU student and are interested in joining the BG24 News crew next semester, it would be a good idea to get a good look at what exactly everybody in this organization does now.  If you ever want to check out what goes on in the newsroom every day we put on a show, feel free to drop by and ask around.  Our newsroom is located in the basement of West Hall.  You can also observe one of our live newscasts in our studio or in our control room depending on what specifically you want to do.  The studio and control room are located inside the big double doors down the hallway on the first floor of West Hall.

So if you are a BGSU student and are majoring in Broadcast Journalism, Telecommunications or anything of that nature, BG24 News is a great hands-on organization to get some experience and preparation for the broadcasting career.  Even if you are not a Broadcast Journalism or Telecommunications major, you can still join.  So Time Warner Cable subscribers in Wood County take note, BG24 News can be found every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 5:30 p.m. on channel 6.  And BGSU broadcasting students take note, we will be looking for new members as the next semester approaches (and we all know it will be here before we know it).  It is a lot of hard work, but the experience is definitely worth it!

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Sensationalism in TV News: WOIO 19 Action News

If you are a Northeast Ohio native like me, you are probably familiar with the local TV newscast known as 19 Action News, which operates on WOIO CBS 19 in Cleveland.  If that’s the case, you probably also know how controversial they are and have been for the past eight years or so.

When I was interning at Rubber City Radio Group and WAKR-AM in Akron this past summer, as a smaller news organization, we often looked to local newspapers and TV stations as sources for information in some of our stories.  The one TV station I was advised against using as a source was 19 Action News because of their controversial mentality.

Much like Fox News Channel, 19 Action News seems to be a news source which exaggerates news stories to make them look like something bigger than it really is.  They have also become infamous for using sensationalism through shocking and sometimes graphic video and imagery to boost ratings, even more so than Fox News.  It also doesn’t help that infamous investigative reporter Carl Monday (look him up on Google or Wikipedia) recently joined the station.

Here is an example of their sensationalized news stories that have made them look bad in the eyes of many journalists and viewers in general.  Notice how in this video, they mention the story is “so shocking, we’re setting an age requirement to watch”–a blatant attempt to attract more viewers.

It’s one of those stories where repetition of these news story promos is also the key in getting attention.  You might watch the primetime programs on CBS and see 19 Action News advertise this same story over and over again.  Although in this case the promo gave a clear indication of what was to come at 11 p.m., sometimes the station (and others for that matter) will run teasers for stories and make them look like it is a big deal, only for you to later find out during the newscast that it really was not worth staying up late for.

As disturbing as that news story was, this was not the station’s most infamous case of sensationalism to boost ratings.  In 2004, artist Spencer Tunick made his infamous painting of nudists gathered together in Cleveland in a photo.  Long-time 19 Action News anchor Sharon Reed broke this story saying she was one of those people who posed nude for this picture.  The promo for this news story gives an idea of how exactly 19 Action News covered this.

While I myself did not see this on the news (I was a teenager back then, so my parents probably would not have wanted me to watch it), my understanding was the video of this story was presented uncensored during that evening’s 11 p.m. newscast.  Reed was even interviewed on “The Late Show with David Letterman” regarding this infamous story.  Somehow, after all this, she is still working with the station to this day.

Once again, it seems like now more than ever, sensationalism seems to be the key to attracting viewers to your local station.  If that is the case, broadcasters in smaller organizations like Rubber City Radio Group in Akron (or at just about any TV or radio station for that matter) have to seriously question the reliability and accuracy of bigger stations like WOIO, so in this case, my colleagues and I made a smart move to not use 19 Action News as a source of information for any of our stories.

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Fox News Channel Sensationalism Follow-Up

Sorry folks, apparently I cannot embed YouTube videos onto WordPress the way I was thinking I should, so I am going to give this another go here.

You can refer to my last post for a more specific explanation and my own personal opinion on it, but I would also like the opinions of my readers.  Do you think Bill O’Reilly, Gretchen Carlson, and Margaret Hoover overreacted to Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” music video?  You decide.

And as I mentioned before, Fox News seems to be a source that is quick to use sensationalized or graphic video to make a point of what they are discussing, but I think it is just a way for them to boost ratings.  At any rate, here is another “O’Reilly Factor” segment in which O’Reilly, Carlson and Hoover “defend” the use of such video in their broadcasts.  (Just pay attention to the first part of the segment.  Whoever uploaded this on YouTube included their other discussion about “Jon and Kate Plus 8.”)

So is Fox News right in using such clips to illustrate their specific stories?  You make the call.

Again, if you do not know what I am talking about, refer back to my last post where I failed to properly embed the two videos.  And coming up is a review of another TV news source that has been under fire for quite a lot of sensationalism, some of it even worse than what Fox News is pulling.

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Sensationalism in TV News: Fox News Channel

Sensationalism has been ever present in journalism for years upon years, even in the days before television.  But TV has made it easier for journalists to exaggerate the truth or to try to boost ratings using attention-grabbing stories that often involve graphic content.  Sometimes this practice is done by major networks.  Other times the media known for this is less mainstream.

It is no secret that Fox News Channel is infamous for their bias and their distortion of the truth in many of the news stories they cover.  Most of the time this is shown when they are doing a story that is designed to warn viewers about current cultural fads that they want to make seem more controversial than they actually are.  For example, here is a “Culture Warriors” segment from “The O’Reilly Factor” in which Bill O’Reilly, Margaret Hoover and Gretchen Carlson talk about Lady Gaga’s music video for her song “Telephone.”

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While I agree that this particular music video should not be viewed by young children, I think Gretchen Carlson seems to be exaggerating quite a bit.  First of all, her rant is very biased because she only focuses on the negative aspects of Lady Gaga.  Second of all, if this music video was “pornographic” like she claimed it to be, do you really think the music channels like MTV and VH1 would air it at all?  Yes, the video is pretty edgy for younger audiences, but MTV and VH1 have broadcasting standards that they have to abide by.  Plus, most of Lady Gaga’s other videos are not nearly as risque as “Telephone,” so it is not like she is the most dangerous role model, although not the best either.

Which brings me to another point about Fox News Channel: They are also well-known for drawing in more viewers through the displays of video that is often controversial in nature.  In another segment from the same show, O’Reilly, Carlson and Hoover attempt to “defend” the use of such video by claiming it is necessary to show some of such material in order for parents to know what their children are being exposed to.  (It is only discussed in the first half of the segment.  Whoever uploaded this video on YouTube included the second part about “Jon and Kate Plus 8″ as well.)

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I might cut Fox News some slack on this one because yes, there are times when you have to see things to believe them.  But by the same token, “The O’Reilly Factor” is on at 8 p.m. when the kids are usually still awake, and we certainly do not want them to find stuff like that on TV, especially the news.

Despite FNC’s controversial nature, their attempts at sensationalized journalism pale in comparison to what one of the local TV stations back in my hometown are doing to boost ratings.  Just because they claim to be “Cleveland’s #1 newscast” does not mean they used good ethics to do so.  I will discuss that more in my next entry, and if you are a Northeast Ohio native like me, you probably know what I am getting at.

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Introduction to the Broadcast Diaries Blog

My goal of this blog is to explain the broadcast journalism business to the average reader as I have gone through my experiences in the field and continue my education in it.  The blog entries I plan to post will range from how-to blogs on making packages and other videos to reviews of local TV and radio stations, national newscasts and stories, reviews of computer programs used in the business, broadcast terminologies and journalism classes I have taken and currently am taking.

As I continue to take courses related to this business, readers of this blog will learn more about what I am learning these classes, along with some of my BG24 News and WBGU-FM endeavors as well, basically learning some of the same stuff I am.  I figure, what good is this information I am learning about if I do not share it with others interested in broadcasting?

We will also examine different networks, local stations and the news stories they have been known for.  Some of them are fairly reliable, while others are known for their use of sensationalism or bias to boost ratings and make themselves look “good.”  This is a good way for future broadcasters to know which sources to avoid and not avoid.  After all, just because a network calls themselves a news source does not necessarily mean they are the best one.

We will also discuss different computer programs used in broadcasting.  Some of them are more professional than others and some are easier to use than others.  And believe me, as a broadcast journalism student, the opinions I myself have on these programs can differ quite a bit.

And of course, along the way, I will be explaining what certain terms mean in broadcasting.  Since every broadcasting enthusiast or student is different, some might know more than others about what I will be talking about.  While broadcasting veterans will more than likely understand these posts very well, those who are just starting to study the field will not need to worry about not understanding unfamiliar words because I will be explaining most of them as I go along.

That said, keep watching for more entries.  Those who read them are guaranteed to learn something they probably have not already known.

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