Be an Efficient News Researcher
Edited by Jan Margery Castillo, Graeme, Eng, Lynn
So you have finally landed that dream job of being a member of the press and you started off as a news researcher. What's next? You can't hurry your way up to the top without starting from the bottom. You need to undergo all the sweat and dirt to be a recognized member of the fourth state, the media. And it all starts with being a program researcher. This article will give you tips on how to be an efficient news researcher, and eventually work yourself up to becoming the huge TV or behind the camera personality that you want to be.
Duties of a researcher
News researchers basically look for news and stories for TV program airing. This is the initial job TV stations offer to interns or fresh graduates with a degree in communication arts or journalism.
- 1Search for hard news.Hard news are the current events happening in the country. These are straight and serious news stories that are also told in direct to the point and succinct manner. There are many leads to finding these types of news because they are on the headlines on TV, radio and online news.Advertisement
- 2Search for features.Feature stories are light stories that are a little bit on the creative side. These news items are developed to support the current headlines. They supplement the tone of the current state of the country.Advertisement
- 3Pre-interview case studies.It is the researcher's job to look for the right people and representatives to interview for a specific topic. Then, he also does the initial interview. Basic questions are asked to obtain necessary information. The pre-interview prepares both the interviewee and the program host, giving them enough points to talk about on the live show or during the taping.
- 4Outline search elements.After gathering data, the researcher organizes the list of information he has gathered. The elements he has discovered are outlined, along with the corresponding case studies. This will serve as the guide for the writer and the host too. The facts should be accurate and credible. Writing an outline serves as a training ground for the researcher too if he wants to be a script writer or producer soon.
- 5Arrange shoots.This involves looking for a shoot location, creating a map and directions on how to reach the location, estimating time of travel between locations, scheduling the shoot, coordinating with the people on the location area, securing shoot permits, and providing necessary information and precautions to the team.
- 6Coordinate with the production staff.A researcher coordinates with the segment producer, writer, executive producers of the show, and with the hosts too. He needs to have a presence of mind and great techniques in multi-tasking.
- 7Process ex-deals.The researcher is the one who communicates with the partners or sponsors of the TV program. Every show needs outside support to produce a segment and the researcher does the coordination. He sends a request letter to certain institutions or community to be able to get a shoot permit in one location. He finds a way to get a sponsored LCD TV for a press conference by submitting letters to companies. In return, the station gives back a favor by acknowledging the sponsors through credits or a live mention of their company.
- 8Assist during the shoot.When a researcher is asked or required to come with the team on the shoot, his main role would be to assist the segment producer. He has done his part, but a little help would not hurt.
- 9Provide props.Straight news does not need props, but featured stories do. The researcher needs to be creative too, especially when the props needed can be done by hand. However, he should not prepare the props all the time even if he can. A more important task needs to be prioritized most of time, so he should also know how to look for the right person who will finish the props. An expert craftsman, perhaps, or a friend can help.
- 10Assist the news editor.Practically, the news editor already knows what to do as long as the segment producer briefs him on the story, the angle and the shots he needs. But for some, the researcher should still be on stand-by and available anytime in case the editor needs to verify something or needs additional information.
Qualities of an Efficient News Researcher
- 1Nose for news.This means you have to be good at identifying what is newsworthy. This is a skill that can be polished over time. You develop it by being observant to things and people around you, being curious and by staying in the industry for quite some time. A person with a nose for news knows how to create several angles to a budding story.Advertisement
- 2Obsessive Compulsive.Attention to detail is a characteristic that every good researcher has. Even the minute and almost unnoticed detail should be carefully reviewed. For example, when shooting on a location and the camera captures a certain brand or shop with a bold sign in the background, advise the videographer or the director to shift the framing. A comprehensive research on the background of a subject is needed to prepare the host or the reporter about things that could arise unexpectedly.
- 3Sociable.You should know how to mingle with all types of people. This may be difficult for newbies, especially when talking to big time businessmen or professional artists, or when dealing with government officials. But everything can be learned through asking and experience. Get some coaching from your producer for tips on how to address certain types of people. It's important to know their language and be able to carry on a substantial conversation. A researcher also knows how to communicate well with ordinary people they could encounter at random moments.
- 4Eager to learn.Learning is never-ending when you are a researcher. You not only get information from newspapers or from people, but you also become curious and suspicious of why and how things are. The researcher puts extra effort into fully understanding the mechanism of things, the process or red tape of the government, and why certain issues or anomalies emerge.
- 5Immersion.You see immersion documentaries and wonder why they have to get a first-hand experience on the story they are reporting. This is because they want to be able to put focus on the experience of the case study and the best way to describe it is through immersion. Researchers, on the other hand, are also willing to undergo immersion. It's not filmed, but it is his personal choice to be able to fully describe the subject or element.
- 6Suspicious.Over time, you will know how to determine if something is suspicious. Just by listening to the news or eavesdropping on people's conversations, you will be able to know if something is worth a story. You can't simply trust what a person says because there may be hidden agendas to their words.
- 7Sound judgment.An efficient researcher can tell if a certain story or topic is doable or not. He does not pitch a story that cannot be taped in real-time. He easily drops a subject, even if he has already exerted initial research on it, if he knows it's not feasible to produce.
- 8Persistent, but not pesky.There is a difference between being persistent until you get what you need and being annoying. A good researcher should know where to draw the line.
- 9Adaptable.This is a characteristic that is needed, especially when one can only get information or help from other people. You should know how to associate yourself with others despite culture differences or language gaps. A researcher is always updated with the latest trends, making him well versed in certain topics. He needs to learn how to relate to other people from all walks of life. Don't be condescending because there are still, and will always be, many things you don't know.
- 10Pleasant.Always add charm and pleasantries when talking or even writing to people. Remember that you need some help or information from them, so it is just right to be kind and charming.
- 11Prepared.A researcher is always prepared and guarded. He always brings necessary tools with him in case a potential story comes up. His smartphone has apps needed for news researching and coverage. He has power banks too, in case of blackouts. He brings with him a pen and paper, and recorder all the time. His contacts on his phone are also recorded in his notebook for back up.
How to Start a News Research
- 2Observe your environment.Look around and you will see potential news stories. All you need is to open your eyes and imagination and evaluate which event can be featured on TV.
- 3Scout news from government and non-government organizations.The government is an open book. You may opt to search individually on their sites or call them up and ask for news they can share.
- 4Start asking your contacts.They may directly or indirectly help you with the information you need.
- 5Put elements together.
- 7Review and write down the gathered news.
- 8Secure necessary permits and schedule shoots.
Perks of being a News Researcher
It is not easy to be a part of the mass media but it sure is fun in more ways than one. Here are the perks of being a member of the press:
- 1Credits or Glory of the Bylines.Your moment to shine appears a good two to three second on national television. Not bad right? Even after going through the toughest times of researching and dealing with difficult people, you cannot resist smiling and being proud of yourself once you see the your name in the credits of the show. There is a sense of triumph and joy upon seeing your name on TV.
- 2Traveling.Who says you can't go to places, chill out under the sun and ride a plane off to the coolest beach resort? And what's best is you get to experience them for free! Yes, traveling is one of best parts of being a researcher. You work hard, shoot on a location, and relax for a bit with a margarita on your hand. Think about all the pressure and bad times you've gone through to pull off the story and compare it to where you are after, then you'll realize it's all worth the stress.
- 3Free food.This is something that lights up a researcher's day or mood. Every now and then, when invited to press cons, press releases, and when you are featuring a food subject, expect that you'll go home with a happy tummy. If you are luckier and are assigned to the cooking part of the show where chefs are invited, then you won't worry about your breakfast anymore. The fun thing is that you not only get to eat sumptuous food, but you also get to try featured restaurants' fine dining specialties. Talk about authentic, weird, expensive food and desserts and you'll get them for free when you are a researcher!
- 4Free tickets and invites.A news researcher is given privileges to go to concerts, or plays or any events for free. And it's not just an ordinary invite because you are on the VIP list. Well, maybe not exactly VIP, but you get to be seated in the front or on the side where you there's no need for you to squeeze yourself in just to see the performer. You may even go to the celebrities' dressing room to mingle, or rather have a small talk and have a picture taken with them.
- 5More friends, more fun.Every day, a researcher gets to meet various people. You talk to them on the phone, and eventually meet them in person. It's up to you if you want to keep it business only, but there's no harm in keeping them in your contacts and sticking around. The production crew is also a group you can always call your pals, especially because you know how difficult it is to produce a show. Even the reporters, hosts and showbiz personalities can be your friends.
- 6Free entrance on TV studios.Since you are working with the station, you are entitled and free to visit studio taping or live shows of various programs of your network. It could be a pastime. You may even bring your friends or special someone inside the studio of a musical variety show - consider it a treat, or a date.
- 7Free magazine and newspaper subscription.So you are sitting on your chair, waiting for some instruction from your segment producer, when the lady from a magazine publishing house drops by to give your team this month's edition of their magazine lines. How cool is that? Also, all the newspapers are delivered to your office every day. Of course you need to work on them and search for news, but Hi,, spend some time to at least entertain yourself and get updates on the latest fashion trends and the like.
- 8Gifts and giveaways.On certain occasions, you will go home with no hand left to grab the door knob. Several TV sponsors give out goodies, samples, gift vouchers, Christmas baskets, and bags for the staff. If you have been extra kind and one of your case studies became a good friend, you might receive special gifts from them on a regular basis. Even your colleagues, your producers and the TV hosts are generous enough to wrap some presents for every staff member.
Drawbacks of being a News Researcher
If there are perks, there are also downsides of being a media person. Here are some of the drawbacks:
- 1Flexible time.A researcher does not necessarily have a fixed schedule. You can go to work whatever time you can. But you cannot go home anytime you want. You need to finish and polish everything before hitting the sack. Also, flexible time means being available almost 24/7. It may be your rest day because you have just done a shoot, but your producer can ask you to work on something again. It's like being an on-call nurse or doctor.
- 2Stubborn producers.Researchers who stay in the business for a long time, and eventually those who become producers themselves, have strong personalities. It is because the environment is filled with stubborn, sometimes rude, and hard to please bosses. Every show has a terrifying executive producer and a bunch or equally cold-blooded segment producers. But the key here is to not take them personally because basically, they are only putting up a work persona. It is for the benefit if the program. They make your life difficult, not because they hate you, but because they want you to push harder and provide quality research. No one wants to produce a cheap program because there is very tight competition. High standards should be maintained.
- 3Limited facilities.You may find yourself stuck in a newsroom where you are in queue to be the next one to use the company phone. Or you can't use the phone at all because your boss is busy with his more important business. The tendency is to use your own resources to meet the deadlines.
- 4Too much workload.If you can only divide yourself into three, where one is in the office, the other is on location and one is doing a pre-interview, then you would have done so. Multi-tasking is a skill you will fully develop if you are working as a researcher on TV. The multiple demands can give you burn-outs, but try not to give in. The test of a good researcher is defined when he can pull off a show without losing his mind. Create a checklist and put in order of priority to avoid cramming.
- 5Little compensation.It's not the lowest compensation in the corporate world, but if you analyze the things you go through every time you work on a segment, you'll realize you're just not well-compensated. Once you get the paycheck you can't afford not to say, "I deserve more than this." That is why many researchers jump to other shows, and get one or two more segments for additional income. Or worse, they change careers. But remember, everyone starts at the bottom. Once you get promoted, you'll be very proud of yourself because not only will you get a way better rate, but you'll also get better opportunities and less stress. A segment producer only shoots and writes.Advertisement
- If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.
Categories : Business & Management
Recent edits by: Eng, Graeme, Jan Margery Castillo