Media - Making contact - How the newsroom works
To work with the media on promotional or marketing opportunities your
community group needs to have some idea about how a media newsroom
Whilst there may be slight differences, most newsrooms function in
basically the same way. This help sheet provides an overview of the
workings of a newsroom in order to give you a better understanding of
how they function.
What is a newsroom?
A newsroom can be defined as: "an
office at a television or radio station or a newspaper where news is
gathered and reports are prepared for broadcasting or publishing."
The newsroom is where the stories are gathered, written, put together,
edited and assembled for the news broadcast, telecast or newspaper.
Who is in the newsroom?
The number of jobs and people working in the newsroom vary depending on
the media outlet. In smaller media outlets, at suburban weekly
newspapers for example the newsroom will probably feature only a couple
of journalists and a photographer. Sometimes the editor will be there,
although in many suburban newspapers the editor has a roving role
overseeing a number of newspapers in different offices.
In larger media outlets, such as metropolitan newspapers, radio or
television, the newsroom is much bigger, with a larger staff of people.
They can include:
- Camera operators.
- Sound and lighting technicians.
- Editing room staff (where television and radio stories are cut
- Sub-editors (who edit newspaper journalists' stories and check
them for any legal, factual or other problems before publication).
- Receptionists and News Desk coordinators.
- Archive or Library staff (sometimes)
- Graphic designers
- Editors or chiefs of staff - either in charge of sections of the
media's coverage, or of its overall coverage.
How the newsroom works
Each newsroom has differences - they can be slight or significant.
Not only are there differences between newsrooms of similar media
outlets (for example, different newspapers) but there are larger
differences between, say, television and newspaper newsrooms.
Only by working with an individual media outlet and developing a solid
relationship over time can your organisation gain a little more insight
into how it operates.
Generally, a newsroom works along
- Stories come into the newsroom -
this can occur in a number of ways, some of which are:
- Through tip-offs from contacts, or press releases
- Through coverage of newsworthy events, activities and occasions.
- From story leads followed-up by journalists.
- From issues or stories the editors, producers or
chiefs-of-staff themselves want covered.
- From calls by journalists chasing up new angles on current
- As this pool of stories
develops, journalists are either assigned stories by editors or, in
some smaller media organisations, cover the stories themselves.
- This is done either by attending the event or through phone or
face-to-face interviews or the use of press releases.
- At times they may use archival material, such as old
photographs, footage or sound, which is stored in written archives or
- At this time photographers,
camera operators, sound and lighting technicians come into play.
- In larger print media organisations, the visuals for stories
can be organised through the photographic editor.
- Often TV camera crews are assigned jobs through the editor or
chief-of-staff after they have looked at the pool of stories.
- In smaller organisations like suburban newspapers, journalists
and photographers often liaise directly to organise photo opportunities
and book photos.
- Sometimes photographers and camera operators get sent out to do
their job on site, while journalists stay in the office to follow up
the story or conduct interviews on the phone.
- Any graphics needed to accompany a story is organised and the
work allocated to graphic designers.
- Once photographers or camera
operators return with their visuals the newsroom can become a frantic
place, as items are put together and the stories are completed before
- With electronic media, raw visual footage or audio ends up in
the editing suite, where it is reviewed and the most relevant or
newsworthy grabs are used to put together the story. Any overdubbing or
re-recording also occurs at this stage.
- For print media, photographs are loaded into a computer and
- At this stage any other graphic information needed is completed
or almost completed and ready for use.
- Meanwhile, the journalist spends time finishing their story
before it is saved and sent to sub-editors.
- At this time, particularly in larger newsrooms, editors,
producers and chiefs-of-staff often meet again to review the story list
and see if there are any new stories to include (or others to discard)
and re-order them in priority for presentation in the newspaper or
- When stories or news items are
completed, they are usually checked to ensure they are factually
correct, make sense and adhere to any legal requirements.
- Copy or check sub-editors (copy subs or check subs) will go
through stories, particularly in newspapers, and often make changes to
improve readability and ensure they are not libellous. Stories receive
headings and photo captions are checked.
- Lay-out sub-editors then draw the story, photograph and graphic
elements together and lay them out through a computer on the page.
- In visual or broadcast media, production staff are responsible
for ensuring tapes for completed stories are ready to be played in the
right order as the bulletin progresses.
- Competition for space or air-time can be fierce, with stories
often missing the cut, or being cut-down, due to space or time
- Even at this late stage things
can change if a big news story occurs.
- Some stories might be cut back or even left out of the
newspaper or news bulletin to accommodate any "late breaking news".
- Those stories may then appear in a truncated form, or could be
cut completely and never appear at all.
The information contained on this site is subject to change. Australia Post or Our Community will not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever coming from reliance placed on all or part of its contents.