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The strength of broadcast media is the human voice, hearing, and seeing, for ourselves how people are feeling. We can judge their state of mind; whether they are angry, upset, elated, jubilant. We can hear the emotion in their voice, we can see it on their face, we can watch their body language and we can share in the moment as it is happening a boast newspapers can never match. While the immediacy of the Internet may rival broadcast news, it cannot yet challenge the impact, the emotion and the intimacy of radio and television.

Radio makes pictures. Unlike television, which relies heavily on visual images to convey its message, in radio, pictures are created in our imagination. We can be stimulated through sound and voices. They signpost and shape our response, allowing us to create the visual symbols for ourselves. Radio is a very personal medium and allows the listener to take part in a way television, which is a very passive medium, cannot. It is relatively cheap to operate and therefore can offer greater access and participation to the amateur. It is simple, and it is fast — there is no waiting for the crew to arrive, a radio story can be on the air almost immediate ly. If there is a reporter on the scene all they need is a phone and their voice.

In June 1996 a massive bomb exploded in Manchester city centre following an IRA coded warning to a television station. While the BBC's television newsroom waited for the camera crew to get pictures back from the scene, its radio counterpart, GMR, had the story on air as it was happening. Radio reporter Richard Hemingway was on his way into the city centre to check out reports of a security scare when the device exploded. Using a mobile phone he was able to ring through to the newsroom and deseribe the moment he felt the blast 'hit [him] like a physical wall' as emergency sirens blared in the background. The emotion in his voice was evident and through his graphic verbal description we were able to picture the scene for ourselves.

While radio can create mental pictures, television must show them to us. It is picture-led and pictures must take primacy. The reporter must be confident that the story is a televisual one. A piece that works perfectly well in print, or on radio, may be unsuitable for television. It is not simply a question of whether it is a news story; the television reporter must also consider the visual interest and impact. The trap the television reporter must avoid is making radio with pictures. Television is not about producing what the BBC, in the early days of transmission, used to introduce as an illustrated summary of the news.

Former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, said, 'The picture that comes into your living room is I think the most powerful form of communication known on this planet.'

You can argue that television is, at the same time, both the strongest and the weakest of the broadcast media. The advantage television has over radio is being able to show or demonstrate events, ideas and concepts. Seeing is believing, and the impact of advances in television technology is that we can now beam pictures from across the world almost instantaneously, allowing viewers to watch events unfolding before their eyes. But that reliance on pictures can, of course, also work to its disadvantage. If you haven't got the pictures, you haven't got the story. News values in television can be dictated by the visual impact of a story and good pictures can drive an item higher up the running order, while another may not make the programme at all because there are no pictures to illustrate it: They can detract, or distract us, from the story, particularly if they are poor, irrelevant or unimaginative. How many times have we seen television reporters using the same tired, old set-up shots of politicians strolling across Westminster Green at the Houses of Parliament?

Pictures can also alienate; graphic or shocking images may offend the viewer. Television cameras can be intrusive, and have led to accusations that television news is exploitative.

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