23 February 2018

The Voicer with Audio / Feature

Executive Summary

In this fact sheet you will find guidance on how to create a feature or voicer, which is a more comprehensive radio format. This format is conducive to water reporting in the sense that it can be used to describe more complex topics, which is often the case in water management. By using recorded material and different opinions it can stimulate the listener’s imagination. Yet the report maintains an informative character and does not present an opinion.


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The radio report, feature, or voicer, with audio is an informative bulletin about current affairs. It does not give an opinion. The reporter speaks during the report - he or she provides the voice. The addition of various pieces of recorded material (known as audio clips, cuts, or sound bits) makes the report more lively, authentic, and interesting. These can be statements from interviewees, statements made at press conferences, or other recorded material. A water story shouldn’t miss atmospheric sounds of water, pumps, waves, etc.

What are the different kinds of voicers with audio?

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News bulletin/breaking news: In which the item covers current events as they happen, some of which may be spontaneous events. For example, accidents, political affairs, disasters, war zones.  

Magazine-style item: Tends to have more background information and lighter subject matter; also allows reporters and presenters more freedom and creativity.

Backgrounder: Reveals the background to an event. For example, it could provide the background to a pre-planned report (see below).

Reportage/radio feature: This item is more detailed than others. It is made livelier by the inclusion of more than just the facts. It may also contain impressions and observations. The reporter is usually on-site. Reportage doesn’t necessarily have the usual “straight” news tone. It may tell a story and allow the atmosphere of the event to come through.

Pre-planned report: In which the reporter goes to cover something that is known to be happening - such as elections, government meetings, or press conferences.

How is a radio report put together?

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A radio report is introduced by the presenter in the studio. The topic is outlined briefly, and the author of the piece is usually named. The author/reporter provides his own voice-over and the report follows a logical course, informing listeners about the topic and linking to various pieces of audio (also known as cuts, clips, or sound bites). The questions the reporter has asked the interviewees to obtain the audio clips are usually not heard. The name and job of the person providing the audio clip must be mentioned. It is also important to make sure that audio clips comprise complete sentences - they shouldn’t sound as though they have come from a longer interview. They should be easy to understand and sound complete.

How long is a radio report?

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The length of a radio report dependents on the form, content, and format of the item. However, most are usually between 1:00 and 3:30 minutes.

What sort of language do radio reports use?

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Generally, the pre-planned report, the backgrounder, and breaking news use clear and simple speech and present the facts. Magazine-style reports and documentaries can be more creative and are made lively through the skill of the author or reporter.


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  • Which form suits the subject matter best? Be careful not to mix the various styles of radio reports haphazardly.
  • Is the radio report still current - or should there be opening or closing remarks made to update the item?
  • Has the topic been thoroughly researched?
  • Have all the audio clips been identified (with name and function, etc.)?
  • Are the audio clips the right length and do they sound complete?
  • Are all of the audio clips relevant to the topic?
Library References

Shortcuts to Journalism: The Basics of Print, Online and Broadcast Reporting

When basic questions about journalism come up, this handbook, written and produced by Media in Cooperation and Transition (MICT), provides clear, brief and precise answers. Shortcuts to Journalism isn’t just for journalists – it’s also helpful for non-journalists. Download the English version here or the Arabic version here.

Schmidt, E., Tirok, M. and Bösch, M. (2016): Shortcuts to Journalism: The Basics of Print, Online and Broadcast Reporting. Berlin, Germany: Media in Cooperation and Transition gGmbH PDF

Alternative Versions to