Friday, June 6, 2008

Presenters and journalists

A question from Suharno in Indonesia:

I'm confused about the difference between presenter, broadcaster, and announcer; and the difference between reporter and journalist. Your answer must be very helpful for me. Thanks.

Catherine Chapman answers:
Hi Suharno,

All these words are used to describe people who work in the media. The first 3: presenter, broadcaster and announcer are all related to TV and radio: media which is delivered partly – or wholly – through sound and speech (this type of media is increasingly available on internet too).

A presenter is a person who introduces or hosts television or radio programmes. A presenter's opening words on a programme are usually something like Good evening, and welcome to[name of show] with me [name of presenter]. On tonight's show we will be... [presenter talks about the content of the programme]. The topic of the programme is not all about the presenter. The presenter is the person who introduces the programme, introduces or links sections of the programme together and says goodbye at the end. Some well-known presenters include Johnny Carson (an American TV chat show host), Trevor MacDonald (a British TV news presenter), and Karim Kouchouk (the presenter of BBCe for BBC Learning English Arabic Service).

An announcer's job is similar to that of a presenter. He or she provides spoken information about news, weather, programme content, links between programmes, advertising etc. However, an announcer may have a smaller role in a programme than a presenter does: on TV programmes, an announcer may only feature as a voice whereas a presenter will be seen on the screen. Another main difference between an announcer and a presenter is that the announcer usually reads word-for-word from a script, whereas a presenter may have some flexibility regarding the things they say.

The word broadcaster can refer to an organisation such as the BBC (UK) or NBC (USA) which produces television and radio programmes. It can also be used to describe someone who is wellexperienced in the TV and radio industry. He or she usually has multiple talents – scriptwriting, directing, presenting etc. and his or her programmes may be considered to be very important and well-respected. Famous British broadcasters include Sir David Attenborough, Sir Robert Winston and Sir David Frost, and Larry King in the USA.

Turning to the second part of your question, Suharno: you wanted to find out about the difference between a reporter and a journalist. In fact, these jobs are very similar, and in some respects the terms are interchangeable. A journalist's work is most often seen in print – especially newspapers – but they can work for TV and radio too. A journalist gathers, writes and reports news stories, and may also edit and present news articles. A reporter is a type of journalist who gathers information about newsworthy issues. This may involve researching through several sources – interviews, police and public records, photographs etc. When the information is gathered, the reporter will create a report for publication or broadcast in the media. Reporters often specialise in a particular area, for
example: crime, politics, health or education.

Finally, Suharno, I'd like to mention one more media profession. A columnist is a writer (usually a journalist) who writes regularly (often weekly) for a newspaper or magazine. She or he chooses a topic that is in the news and writes not only about the events that have become newsworthy but also often offers some analysis and/or personal opinion. This job is usually reserved for senior journalists at a particular newspaper or magazine. Well Suharno, I do hope this has been a useful answer to your question!

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