Ella Scott

Behind the mic: Ella Scott - National Radio News Senior Journalist

Martin Walters, 20th October 2016
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It’s hardly a secret that traditional print journalism is going through tumultuous changes, but, much as radio’s vitality continues in the online era, news broadcasts remain a vital way of informing the public on the issues of the day.

That’s not to say there aren’t challenges, particularly for a national service serving bulletins to the diverse and highly independent community radio sector; with so much happening around the country how does an editorial team ensure bulletins are timely, balanced and informative?

CBAA's Martin Walters spent some time with Ella Scott, newly-appointed Senior Journalist with National Radio News (NRN), the sector’s own independent news service. Ella gives us her perspective on radio news in 2016, and some insights into the workings of NRN.

What do you see as the strengths of radio news?

I think that radio news reaches a more diverse audience, with a lot of people out there tuning in to get their daily news from a bulletin that they can listen to within 5 minutes and still feel like they’re up to date with what’s going on around them.

Does the approach differ greatly to that of print journalism?

Yes, quite a lot, as we are producing news that needs to be as concise as it can possibly be. The longest any one story will ever be is 50 seconds. While often it seems as though radio news can be a little easier than print because we only have to put together such brief stories, I have often found it can be more difficult as you don’t have room to provide extensive background information, therefore you need to provide listeners with the story, context and often a talent perspective all in the space of four sentences.

What does your role as a Senior Journalist entail?

I am in charge of producing each hourly bulletin, selecting appropriate stories and ensuring there is a good balance of perspectives throughout. I also look after new cadet journalists, training them to interview talent, write up audio and written stories and eventually bringing them up to a standard where they are able to produce hourly bulletins themselves.

What are some considerations you make when selecting the stories to run in a bulletin?

As a regional news network we aim to create bulletins containing a variety of news stories from different states across Australia. I try to ensure each bulletin has one state story, changing from hour to hour. Balanced perspectives are also an incredibly important factor and I always try to include stories that present unbiased information with any opinions attributed to the person/group/party that provides them. I also feel as a regional-focused radio network it is important to differentiate ourselves from larger news corporations, so I often try to find more localised perspectives on national issues. NRN is based at the Bathurst campus of Charles Sturt University, with close links to 2MCE.

That regional focus is a core aspect of the service isn’t it?

Yes, we’re a non-metropolitan service aiming to reflect the whole of Australia, meaning we stay well-versed in the matters most important to all our listeners, and avoid getting citycentric. We are also unique in that our CSU cadet journalists who contribute to bulletins get invaluable hands-on experience, which is quite rare in larger universities and city areas. Working on a national service means they get pushed harder on the quality of their work – only the top students get the opportunity to contribute to NRN. NRN has a great reputation as training ground, with former staff tending to go on to long careers in the media, often becoming experts in their fields.

What are your career goals?

My ultimate goal is to end up in a form of philanthropic work, whether that be working in an NGO field such as Amnesty or ideally in a position related to international relations inside an organisation such as the United Nations or potentially the political sphere of Australia. To reach these kind of positions I feel journalism provides me with a good background and the experience I can gain from working in different areas of the journalistic field will certainly help me along the way to achieving my overall goals.

Is your station seeking an hourly news service? To find out more about National Radio News contact Community Radio Network staff at the CBAA on 02 9310 2999 / crn@cbaa.org.au or National Radio News direct on 02 6338 4647.

This article was originally published in the August 2016 edition of CBX Magazine.

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