Television Broadcasting Tutorial 14

10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM

This tutorial outlines the wide range of skills and knowledge required to be a successful investigative journalist, an area of reporting that is changing. Advances in digital technology offer new ways to gather important information, creating fresh challenges and opportunities for investigative journalists.

Some of the principles discussed below are as old as journalism itself, while others reflect a new digital age of investigative reporting. But before we start, a simple question: What is investigative journalism? Basically, an investigative journalist seeks to uncover the truth, exposing corruption along the way. At its core is the heroic and idealistic notion of good overcoming evil and brave journalists going into battle waving the ‘sword of truth’.

The reality, of course, is much less glamorous and involves painstaking and meticulous research, numerous dead ends and hour upon hour of meeting sources and checking facts. But there is nothing more rewarding than a newspaper report or TV documentary that makes a genuine difference and improves people’s lives. That’s the ultimate aim of an investigative journalist.

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Television Broadcasting Tutorial 11

10 THINGS EVERY TV BROADCASTER MUST KNOW

And they are… wait for it…

…the 10 Sections of the OFCOM CODE

 (not exactly glamorous, I know… but absolutely vital all the same)

Every broadcast professional – from television news journalist to producer of a sports magazine show – should know about the detail of the Ofcom Code. It’s the set of rules that governs the way commercial broadcasters operate in the UK. When it comes to factual programming for instance, the code states that commercial broadcasters must be impartial when covering politics and social issues, must be accurate, treat people fairly, respect privacy, avoid causing harm and offence and ensure that under-18s are protected from harmful material.

The code also contains guidance that applies to commercial references in television programmes including product placement, sponsorship, advertiser-funded programming and competitions. This information is becoming increasingly important as different business models are used to fund the making of programmes on commercial channels. Broadcasters of these kind of programmes must maintain editorial independence and clearly understand where the boundaries lie.

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