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Radio: Aam Admi’s medium and a reporter’s delight

N.B. Nair |

Radio is a medium for ears, of sound – it was perhaps the most dynamic of all media yesterday and is even today – affordable, convenient to listen and above all, its content are crisp and to the point especially in the case of news and current affairs. It can remain your companion wherever you go. Therefore, writing for radio is also unique; unique in the sense, it should be simple, and it should be direct and conversational.

But radio in India has always been state run and so far remains so. Therefore, it has its own limitations in terms of induction of talent most suited for the medium. Since it is public-funded, it has an additional responsibility too as anything on a government-run medium would be taken as authentic.

The advantage of Radio is, it is instant; operational expenses for news gathering are much less compared to television. Print medium has a cycle of delivery. Television like Radio is also instant, but it requires huge paraphernalia from news gathering to delivery, but Radio has no such limitations.

There was a time, when Radio had to face challenges, like any other medium in bridging the gap between the actual news gathering and its delivery to the listeners. But today, with the advancement of communication a Radio Reporter just needs a mobile phone to report from any part of the globe and reach out to his listeners instantly. Television Reporters also adopt this technique now to beat the time-gap. An ideal radio report should make the listener feel they are actually witnessing the subject of the news. Painting a picture with words is how it is often described.

The fundamental principles of Radio reporting are Clarity – never try to impress your listeners about your language proficiency, Speed – within the shortest span of time from news gathering to on-air delivery and Style – transport your listeners to the place incident, through weaving of minimum words.

Overseas Reporting

The rule that applies for domestic reporting is equally applicable to foreign reporting. But a major disadvantage in an alien country is, your freedom of movement, access to government sources, or interactions with local communities may not be as unhindered as in your home country. Mind it; you should never expect the freedom you enjoy in India as a journalist in any other country. Not every country would be as open as India is to foreign correspondents. There are certain thump rules for reporting from overseas stations.

Be on the right side of the law

It is generally applicable for any foreigner, but since a journalist would be more visible in terms of his contacts and reportage, any violation of the law of the land would be easily noticed and he or she could face the heat. In some countries, you face trouble even if you follow the rules, like in Pakistan, or some Arab nations, where freedom of expression comes with more restrictions than the freedom itself.

As a foreigner, you should never hurt religious or social sensitivities of your host country. You should also be careful about reporting bilateral relations between your home and host countries as it would invite trouble from both sides.

Relevance of the news in your home context

Not every development in a particular country would generate interest in your home country. In our case, our neighborhood is keenly followed by Indian readers television viewers and perhaps news involving Pakistan receives more attention, for historical reasons.

Research your news

The content should be factually correct, appropriate for the news and validated. Unless otherwise significant, don’t go on the basis of unidentified sources. This could land you in trouble, in case it is taken note of by the authorities in that country as you would not be able to substantiate it.

Network with diplomats, Indian community

Indian embassy or high commissions are the primary source of information for any correspondent posted outside. Though they could be biased at time, generally you get tips and many a times, detailed news briefs from them. Similar is the case with Indian community.

Human interest stories involving Indians

Look at the lives of Indians in the country, from where you are reporting their condition of lives, workplaces, etc. Any report on Indians overseas gets instant attention from their state of origin back in India, besides other states, from where large number of migrants would be in that country for various purposes.

Keep an escape route, in case of trouble

There are occasions, when you would face dangers in an alien country. You should always have some friendly and helpful hands to evacuate you in case of any trouble. It’s not to scare anyone, but caution is always better. Trouble could internal or external, which might affect your safety.

Conclusion: Radio reporting from a foreign country is more challenging than from India for the simple reason you are not at equal comfort as at home. But the basics remain the same for Radio – catering to varied social backgrounds, from a rickshaw puller to the most affluent. Courtesy: Scribe World, A Press Club of India Publication


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