News terms defined

Gotta watch my language. I forget that sometimes I may use terms that the general public doesn’t get. Every profession has its own language. There’s coptalk. Gobbledygook (political talk). And newspeak. So here goes.
Breaker aka breaking news – A news story that has just happened or continues to happen. Usually a major event like a fire, crime, accident, etc.
General news story – An everyday assignment, usually one you know about in advance like a march, protest (these can turn into breakers if the mood changes). It might be tied to legislative action or medical breadthroughs or weather (think about how cold it’s been this winter…everyone is doing sidebars related to weather).
Sidebar – A story related to the top story or one of the top stories of the day…showing a different view or angle. A lot of times these are “could this happen here” stories. There’s a tsunami in the Philipines. Sidebar: could this happen in San Francisco? Avian Flu is killing people in Asia. Sidebar: what will happen if/when Avian Flu comes to our country. An accident shuts down a major freeway. Sidebar: (1) Is there a flaw in signage or design of the freeway. (2) History of accidents on this freeway. (3) Response of emergency crews or Good Samitans. You get the idea.
Feature – Not a hard news story, but a story that focuses on an individual or some topic that is not necessicarily hot news. Wyoming Cattle Drive is a feature. Generally music that was not part of the event can be added in to enhance the mood…the videojournalist can get more creative in shooting/editing. Features may take more than one day to shoot and edit.
Mini-Documentary (or Series) – Most news stories run from about a minute to two minutes. A mini-doc might be five minutes or might be a series of three to five minute stories on the same or related topic. An issue is explored more in-depth. A mini-doc or series may take days or weeks to shoot and edit.
Sticks – OK, sorry about that one. Tripod.
Stick mike – The universal hand-held mike used in news. An omni-directional mike.
Shotgun – A directional mike with a narrow focus to used to pick up sound from a very specific point. You can pick up pretty good sound from ten to twenty feet or more away. I once picked up a prisoner in custody confessing to killing his two daughters from a distance of nearly 80 feet. (Don’t worry, he looked at me, saw me shooting and made the confession to the baliff. I was not skulking about and was very open about my intentions.)
Lav or lapel mike – The little clip-on mikes, almost always paired with the wireless transmitter and receiver.
Sound bite – The portion of the interview used in a story.
Nats – Natural or ambiant sound at the scene of a story. Dogs barking. People protesting and yelling or singing. Quiet. Traffic. Whatever. Nats helps draw the viewer in so they feel as if they are part of the story.
I’ll add to this as I think of others. If you have questions about terms, just post a comment and I’ll try to give a definition.

4 thoughts on “News terms defined

  1. Yikes – you got me. I’ll look into it, but my gut reaction is that if a feed is the main menu or video, a pre-feed is probably the video for teases or updates. More in a bit.

  2. A prefeed is a feed of a program to a station preceding its scheduled broadcast timeslot so the station may record it for a later broadcast if its going to be pre-empted for example.

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