What is he talking about?

Like any industry, broadcast news has its terminology and jargon. This can be extra confusing because one newsroom won’t necessarily use the same terminology as another one. Here are some words and phrases you will hear a lot on this pathway.

If you hear me — or any of your other teachers — say something and you don’t understand what it means, look here. If it’s not here, please tell me.

ACTION SEQUENCE — A TV term used to describe the series of shots you normally use when filming somebody doing something. Edited together, this is sometimes referred to as a SET-UP and often leads into an interview CLIP.

ACTUALITY — The sound of something happening — e.g. a protest or a choir singing. Similar but slightly different to NATURAL SOUND, which is really just the sound of a location. Always remember — sound is just as important for TV as it is for radio.

AND FINALLY — A term used to describe the final story in a programme, because the PRESENTER starts with the words “And finally…” These stories are often light-hearted and sometimes involve animals — or birds.

AUDIENCE — the people who are watching and listening to a radio or TV news programme. The most important question about an audience is how many of them there are. How old are they? Are there more men or women? And (if advertisers are involved) how much money do they have to spend?

BULLETIN — A short TV or radio news programme.

CAPTION — The onscreen GFX that has the name and job/title of the person who is speaking.

CLIP — A term used in TV and Radio, meaning an edited section of a longer interview. Sometimes known as a SOUNDBITE, SYNC, a GRAB, or SOT (Sound on tape). Our clips are normally around 15-25 seconds long.

CONTACTS — The people who you meet, speak to and interview — and then stay in contact with.

CONTRIBUTOR(S) — People who you interview. And who then become CONTACTS.

COPY — Words/writing that is normally read rather than spoken. E.g. “Have you written the copy for the website?”

CROP — to edit/resize a still image. Ideally you shouldn’t crop a picture by more than around 10%. Bear in mind that the bigger the crop, the more likely you are to make the image quality worse

CUT — The instant transition between one shot and another. E.g. “Cut to the shot of the church.” We use cuts 99% of the time to get from one shot to another. A slower, blended transition is referred to as a DISSOLVE. These should be used sparingly in broadcast news — mainly to indicate the passage of time or a major change of location.

EXTERIORS — Shots that are filmed outside. Sometimes abbreviated to EXT.

GEOGRAPHY QUESTIONS — Who? What? Where? When? Why? How Much? What Next? These questions are at the heart of what we do. You ask them when you are interviewing people and you use the answers to write your script. There’s more about the Geography Questions here.

New Yorker

GFX — A TV term meaning Graphics. Graphics might mean a map or information such as statements or statistics. GFX are on-screen images that have been created by a computer, rather than filmed, though they are sometimes combined with filmed material, as in the example below. Sometimes journalists create simple graphics sequences themselves. Graphic designers are used to make more complex sequences, based on the script that the reporter gives them.

INTERIORS — Shots that are filmed inside. Sometimes referred to as INT.

LINK/CUE/INTRO — The words spoken by the PRESENTER in studio before a story starts.

LINK AND CLIP — A short version of a story for a radio. The LINK is read by the presenter and then there is a CLIP from an interview. The total duration is normally around 40 seconds. Twenty seconds for each part. Your radio assessment in INP1 is to produce a LINK and CLIP. There’s more information about LINK and CLIPs here.

LOCATION — A fancy broadcast way of saying “place.” A location can be INTERIOR or EXTERIOR.

ONE PLUS ONE — An interview with somebody who is in the same place as the presenter or reporter (as distinct from a TWO-WAY).

OOV — Out of Vision — A TV term, meaning the presenter is reading a script, but we can’t see him/her. An OOV version of a story is normally around 15-20 seconds in duration. “Tell Julie I want an OOV on the hospital story for the lunchtime programme.”

London Underground OOV
Elderly OOV

OOV AND CLIP — Another TV term, this time meaning a story that is told via a PRESENTER LINK (some of which is OUT OF VISION) followed by a CLIP. The total duration for an OOV and CLIP is normally around 40 seconds: twenty seconds for the script and twenty seconds for the CLIP. Your TV assessment in INP1 is to produce an OOV and CLIP.

An OOV and CLIP from BBC Wales Today
An OOV and CLIP from an MAJ Broadcast bulletin
Another OOV and CLIP from MAJ Broadcast students

PACKAGE — Used in radio and TV and meaning a recorded story, with a reporter’s voice and interview CLIPS. The duration of packages varies widely, depending on the programme. We normally aim for around one minute and thirty seconds to two minutes. Sometimes packages are referred to as “items” — e.g. “Have you written the script for your item yet?”

This is a package from an MAJ Broadcast bulletin.

The graphic below shows you the different elements of CardiffNewsPlus TV programmes with their estimated durations:

PAN — A camera move from left to right or right to left. Use sparingly and only when there is a good reason to do so.

PATCH — An area of Cardiff that you will each cover, looking for news stories — e.g. “Peter’s patch is Grangetown.” Some students choose to have a patch that is based on a subject rather than a place — e.g. “Jane’s patch is business.”

PAY OFF — The final section of script in a PACKAGE. Sometimes the pay off can be difficult to write (because you’ve said everything). If you get stuck like this, try to answer the WHAT NEXT? question.

PIECE TO CAMERA — A TV term meaning the part of a PACKAGE where the reporter stands in front of the camera on location and speaks directly to the camera. Sometimes known as a STANDUP. A piece to camera is normally around 15-20 seconds long. It’s best to keep them quite short. Always remember the old saying — “Television news is show business for ugly people.”

PORTRAIT and LANDSCAPE — Vertical or horizontal — two different ways to film or take photographs with your smartphone. We always shoot video in Landscape mode. Photographs can be in either mode, but Portrait is sometimes better for a photograph of a person, while Landscape gives you greater flexibility.


PRESENTER — The journalist who sits in the radio or TV studio and introduces the programme.

PRODUCER — The journalist who has overall responsibility for the content of a programme/bulletin. As Jeremy Paxman wrote in his autobiography: “The reporter takes the credit, the cameraman takes the money and the producer takes the blame.”

PRODUCTION JOURNALIST — This can mean several things but in daily news it normally means the journalists who stay in the newsroom and help the producer to make programmes. Sometimes also known as BROADCAST JOURNALISTS. These are often the entry-level jobs that JOMEC students get after graduating from an MA course.

READ — A read is a short story, normally for radio, without any audio. Duration: 15 to 20 seconds.

Taliban read

REPORTER — A journalist who finds original stories and goes out to gather pictures and audio, interview people etc. and then writes the story.

RISK ASSESSMENT — An online document you complete in order to book equipment at JOMEC. Everything you do has to be done safely. The Risk Assessment is designed to make sure you think about your own safety. You should not go out to film or record audio without agreeing to the JOMEC Risk Assessment, which you can download here.

RUSHES — A TV term that means unedited shots. Sometimes called FOOTAGE.

RUNORDER — The list of stories that will be broadcast in a programme. Information on a programme Runorder will normally include the name of the story, (sometimes called its SLUG) details of what format the story will take — e.g. a PACKAGE, or OOV etc etc, which REPORTER is responsible and — crucially — how much time is given to the story (its DURATION). Some newsrooms call runorders “rundowns”.

A radio news programme runorder

SCRIPT — When we refer to a script at JOMEC, we are normally talking about the words that a REPORTER will record him/herself saying for a PACKAGE. We call the words that the programme PRESENTER says in the studio before the package plays the LINK, CUE or INTRO. It’s important to note that the reporter writes both the LINK and the SCRIPT.

SET-UP — A shot, or series of shots, that is used to establish an individual in a TV package, normally before their interview CLIP. See ACTION SEQUENCE.

SHOT — Normally around ten seconds long, a piece of video. Often categorised according to its size — e.g. “close-up” or “wide.” “That’s a really good close-up shot of the dog.” When you hear somebody say “The pictures are really good in the Brexit package” by “pictures” they mean the shots. Unedited shots are called RUSHES. I know… it’s very confusing.

SLUG — The name of a story in a RUNORDER.

STANDARD OUT CUE — A phrase at the end of a TV PACKAGE which indicates it is about to end. Ours is the reporter’s name, followed by the words “Cardiff News Plus.” We do this because it brands our content and it is also a good warning for everybody in a live TV gallery that a package is ending. Note: we don’t use Standard Out Cues in radio.

STRAP — The title for a GFX sequence.

TALENT — A (sometimes) ironic term used for PRESENTERS. “Where’s the talent?” “He’s gone to buy a skinny latte.”

TALKING HEAD — A colloquial term for a person who is interviewed for TV. Also the name of a popular band from the last century.

TITLES — The opening sequence of pictures and GFX of a TV news programme. Normally accompanied by urgent-sounding music.

TOP LINE — In radio and TV this is the first sentence in a LINK. It normally contains the essence of the story — e.g. “What is the top line of Robert’s story?” Remember: a Top Line is not the same thing as a HEADLINE, which is the short, snappy version of the story at the start of a programme. 

TRANSCRIPT — The written version of a script or interview. Transcribing a script is a great way to learn how to write for broadcast journalism. Yes it’s boring to do and you can probably get a robot to do it for you, but writing it out yourself allows you to slowly realise how short, simple and clear the writing is.

TRAIL — Sometimes called a PROMO. A short sequence of shots advertising something else on the channel, or in the programme.

Sky News

TWO-WAY — Used in both radio and TV programmes to describe an interview in which the presenter talks to somebody who is not in the studio with them.

USER-GENERATED CONTENT — Material that has been recorded by members of the public and then used in news programmes. Sometimes just shots or audio, but sometimes it can be much more sophisticated, as in the example below.

A user-generated content package, Channel Four News

VOICER — A radio term meaning a story told with a LINK from the presenter followed by some recorded script from the reporter. Our voicers are normally around 45 seconds to a minute long.

Saudi Arabia voicer, Midnight News, BBC R4

VOX POP — A series of short interviews with randomly selected members of the public, each of whom is asked the same simple, straightforward question. More on vox pops here.

WRAP — A radio term meaning a story told with a LINK from the presenter, followed by some recorded script from the reporter, followed by a recorded CLIP followed by some more recorded script from the reporter. (The clip is wrapped between two pieces of script.) In other words, a Wrap is a VOICER with a CLIP in the middle. Our Wraps are normally around a minute in duration. Note that although a wrap is a very simple PACKAGE, it is not normally referred to as package. A package would normally include more than one CLIP and other elements, such as natural sound.

This is a wrap produced by 20/21 MAIJ student Rebecca Brady.

ZOOM — A camera move. The camera zooms in (gets closer) to the subject of the shot. When the move is reversed, (the shot widens) it’s called a PULL-BACK. Neither of these moves are very frequently used in news these days.

JOMEC Broadcast alumni — recognise anyone?