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IT: Information
IT: Information

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3.2 IT processes in newsgathering

The generic diagram of a communication system, as discussed previously, is shown in Figure 3. If we think of newsgathering as communication from the reporter in the field (User 1) to news editors in the studio (User 2), then we can relate some of the processes described by Higgins to the processes in the boxes. Note in particular Higgins' summary of the 'typical transmission chain':

The camera and microphone capture the pictures and sound. The material is then perhaps edited on site, and then the pictures and sound – whether rushes, edited or 'live' – are sent back via the truck (ENG microwave or SNG) to the TV station.

Higgins (2004)
Generic diagram of a communication system
Figure 3 Generic diagram of a communication system

So at the transmitter we have:

  • Receives from User 1. This is done by the camera and microphone, which convert the image and sound to electrical signals.

  • Manipulates. Editing on site is an example of manipulation.

  • Send. The transmitter on the truck sends the signals via microwave.

  • Stores/retrieves. Higgins describes the material being recorded to tape (remember that the unedited recorded tapes are referred to as 'rushes'), and then retrieved (either the rushes or edited) to send back to the studio.

The only network activity described here is 'conveying'. The main focus of Higgins's description involves conveying via microwave, but he also makes reference to taking the story on tapes back in person or using motorbike despatch rider.

Equipment at the TV studio, including video servers and the computers used by the editors, constitute the receiver. Here, the microwave signal (or the tapes) is received, and manipulated if any further editing is required. If the item is not being broadcast live then it will be stored and subsequently retrieved at the time of broadcast – presumably it is in any case stored for archive purposes.

I shall now look in more detail at some of the technology used in the field.