One of the aims of BBC News School Report project is to develop students' communication and teamwork skills, mirroring what happens in a real newsroom, studio and cubicle.
Newsroom: Where the journalists work
Studio: Where the programme is recorded and broadcast
Cubicle: Where many of the technical team work, next to the studio
Teamwork is the key to making a successful radio news programme.
In all of the job descriptions below, the connections with other members of the team are highlighted.
The programme editor has overall control of the journalistic aspects of the programme.
They lead the news team and decide:
- Which stories will be covered
- How long the individual reports will be
- What audio (reports or sound clips) are needed
- Who will present them
- Which order the reports will appear in the programme
All of this information is contained in the programme running order, which is a plan of the whole programme.
In its most simple form, the running order is the order the stories appear on the programme. It often contains key details about each of the news reports.
Everyone involved in making the news has a copy of the final running order so they can see how their role or report fits in with everyone else's.
Although the programme editor has overall control of the running order, it is prepared by the rest of the news team, usually in the team meeting.
The programme editor also has overall responsible for the accuracy, legality, suitability and style of the reports.
If there is a story that interests the programme editor, they will often send a reporter out to investigate. This involves gathering the news by finding out all the relevant information and checking the facts.
Sometimes, the editor will ask for a "package". This is a report, which is usually recorded before the broadcast, containing sound or audio clips which help tell the story.
At other times, the editor will ask for a "two-way". This is where the reporter, who is often out and about, is interviewed by the presenter, who is in the studio.
When the reporter arrives at the scene of the story, they will interview people involved in the story such as police officers, local councillors, shop-keepers and the families of people involved in the stories.
Sometimes, instead of giving interviews, organisations such as the police might organise a news conference, so they can address reporters from lots of media organisations at the same time.
Reporters will attend these events, listen to the presentations and ask questions. They will record the whole conference.
In some media organisations, the reporter has a producer with them. The producer will record news conferences and liaise with the newsroom, while the reporter is gathering the news.
Once the reporter has all the information and audio clips they need, they will:
- Write a script
- Check it with the editor back in the newsroom
- Record their script
- Mix it in with audio clips from the interviews and news conferences
The best clips neatly sum up a speaker's view point or clearly summarise a story. That's why they're called "clips", not "lengths".
Sometimes, the reporter will also include "actuality". Think of this as real sound effects. Actuality might include cheering at a football match, shouting of protesters at a demonstration or ambulance sirens at the scene of an accident.
The programme editor will assign each story to a story producer in the newsroom.
If it is a simple story, the producer will gather the information by phoning BBC reporters at the scene, interviewing relevant people and looking at the news on their computer.
The BBC and other media organisations pay money so their journalists can access stories on their computers which have been written by other journalists around the world. This system is called "news wires".
Once they have the facts and are sure they are correct, a story producer will write a brief script to be read by the newsreader or presenter. This is called a piece of "copy".
For more important or complicated stories, the editor might decide that it is worth assigning a reporter to produce a package. The story producer will then be the reporter's contact back in the newsroom.
If the reporter is operating alone, the story producer might need to gather some information for the reporter. They might also listen to news conferences and choose clips while the reporter is out doing interviews.
The story producer will often work with the reporter to write the script. They will often assemble, or mix, the package from material sent back by the reporter. This is sometimes done with the help of a studio manager.
Sometimes the story assigned to a story producer might end up as a live interview with the presenter. If so, the story producer will have to brief the presenter on the details of the story and provide questions for them to ask the guest.
The studio manager, or SM, is the person who ensures that the news material gets on air.
The SM operates the mixing desk. They also ensure that all the microphones and the computers, which play out the clips, are working.
During a broadcast, an SM uses foot pedals to turn on a green light when there is ten seconds to go before the end of a report. This warns the presenter that it is nearly time for him or her to speak. When the presenter's microphone is turned on, a red light appears.
Sometimes the SM will get involved earlier in the process by helping a story producer to assemble, or mix, a package.
The studio producer is responsible for ensuring that the correct material is available for the studio manager (SM) to play.
They also have to ensure that the SM always knows what item is coming up next.
Usually, they will provide the SM with a set of scripts.
During a broadcast, they sit next to the SM in the cubicle. They are like a co-pilot or co-driver, telling the SM what's happening and what's coming up.
Each time a new story starts, they announce it, so the SM knows what's going on.
If the programme editor decides to change the order of the stories or add something at the last minute, the studio producer is responsible for ensuring that the SM knows about the changes and that the correct audio material is available at the right time.
If they have time, the studio producer will also check the audio material before it goes on air, to make sure it has been edited correctly.
If there are any live guests, the studio manager will make sure they are in the studio or on the phone at the right time.
They also make sure everyone involved in the programme knows who is who.
The presenters sit in the studio and read the scripts, which are either complete stories or introductions to reports.
Sometimes, the presenter will have to interview either a reporter or a guest.
While reading, they also have to follow instructions from the programme editor. This is usually done through the presenter's headphones using a mechanism called "talkback".
They need to be alert to any changes that may occur such as script updates, a re-order of reports or a new report added at the last minute.