In working with radio and television, direct your information at two levels — network and local news programs. Each of the major television networks, including Cable News Network, uses material on science and medicine for both newscasts and documentaries. Many local programs and news shows are excellent outlets for science and medical stories.
Both local networks and local stations will use one- to five-minute video, if you can provide them. See News Release Form: TV for tips on preparing such video news releases.
While such videotape footage can be supplied to television stations to augment their coverage of a news conference or interview, don't neglect to provide visuals to the television stations at the event itself. Computer graphic animations and diagrams are also important for science stories, and these can be supplied directly and posted on the Internet in standard formats such as "JPEG" files.
To visually establish the identity of the sponsoring organization at a news conference, place a logo or emblem of the organization on the podium or behind the speaker. Ask the conference participants if they have props or demonstrations that would help explain their research to television audiences. Also, think of appropriate visual backgrounds, against which participants can be interviewed, or correspondents can do "stand-up" introductions or windups of stories.
Similarly, for radio, think of appropriate sounds that might be associated with the research and that could be provided to radio correspondents on tape or posted on the internet.
Radio coverage may come from commercial or public radio stations or networks. Commercial radio stations typically need 10- to 20-second "sound bites" for stories that run 40 seconds. They prefer a single quote that captures the gist of the story. Public radio stations, however, may cover a story in a much longer segment and are likely to use several quotes.
In addition to on-the-spot news coverage, television and radio offer special programs and documentaries. These expanded formats allow for interviews on location, so ask your participants to keep in mind laboratories, field stations or other facilities where producers might be able to schedule shooting or taping later.
The basic rule to follow with the broadcast media is to know the technical requirements of your stations and their programs.
Return to the Communicating Science News contents page.