Roles and Responsibilities

Indiana Public Media's News Team
Indiana Public Media’s News Team

Digging out the news, organizing it and delivering it to users is a time and staff intensive process. The more sophisticated the workers, the more sophisticated the results will be. This is why newsrooms evolve in specialization as much as resources allow.

Below are some key roles in the public radio news process. These aren’t common job titles, rather they are the underlying roles needed to originate news (the gatherers), process it (the organizers), and make it available (the presenters) for public use.

Gatherers

These are the reporters. They mine the original information that feeds the news pipeline. Without them, you lack raw material. Over time, the gatherers may include more citizens, but newsrooms need professional reporters to do the heavy lifting — especially investigative journalism.

Bigger newsrooms enable reporters to specialize in beats. And very large newsrooms may organize reporting teams around subject-driven desks.

Samples → Job Description: Reporter

How-To’s → Establish Beats and Desks

Outside Help → Sound Reporting: Reporting

Organizers

These are the editors, producers and writers. They help govern what enters and exits the news pipeline. They help see that raw reporting gets processed correctly. They see that information is produced according to aesthetic and technological imperatives of the platform (i.e., radio versus online).

These organizers include managers — news directors, assistant news director, executive editor, executive producer, senior editor, senior producer or bureau chief. Mid-level titles may include producer or editor. Lower level titles include assistant producers, writers, production assistants.

Organizers are crucial in seeing the big picture, allocating resources and generally making the news process go well. They are vital for quality assurance.

Samples → Job Description: Senior Editor

Samples → Job Description: Producer-Public Affairs

Outside Help → Jonathan Kern: Story Editing

Presenters

These are the anchors, newscasters and hosts. They engage the audience and deliver your pipeline product. They help polish and package the news. Listeners may identify most with these mission-critical teammates.

Samples → Job Description: Anchor-Editor

Outside Help → Sound Reporting: Hosting

Students and Volunteers

In some stations, the roles of gatherers, organizers and presenters are assigned to students, volunteers, interns or other non-professional journalists.

Stations that field a formidable team of journalists-in-training balance their efforts with quality control.

Case Studies → WFUV: Student Training Program

Samples → WFUV: Student Contract

It should be mentioned that a well-rounded team may also include technical and support personnel. These helpers serve important roles but normally lack experience in journalism. A prudent News Director will encourage their inclusion in the team process — while seeing to it that quality standards go uncompromised.

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