My first few days at the BBC Southeast went a lot smoother than I originally expected. Although there are some cultural obstacles that get in the way. It can be difficult to understand what a word means when you’re having a conversation but I’ve found that using context clues helps a lot along with asking what they mean directly. Certain words have different meanings here and there are words used that Americans don’t use at all. It’s a minor bump in the road and takes a little time to get used to. My first day was learning what the BBC Southeast does and who they cover. The BBC Southeast, has a television presence, radio presence and online presence. The BBC Southeast is a more localized version of the BBC. They cover several regions in (you guessed it) the Southeast. The Southeast is made up of Kent, Sussex, and Surrey.
The similarities to American professional culture are that it is somewhat of a traditional top-down management style. In terms of television, the editor is in charge and they must ultimately decide what stories are covered, the producers decide what order they are shown and the directors make the show happen. Radio and online take the bigger stories from television and make it fit for their platform as well as cover stories that television doesn’t cover.
I’m not sure how a newsroom in America is run but what I’ve noticed is that the power structure changes everyday. The BIG difference in the BBC’s journalism is that its service is tied to the government so their reporting must remain impartial unlike what you would see in America. The head editor is the one in charge much like in America but stays out of the way for the most part unless a big decision must be made. The producers do a lot of coordination and the success of the television shows at least, starts and stops with them. Lead producers change every day it seems and it isn’t a problem for anyone. One day someone could be producing the lunch show which is where they don’t have too many viewers and the next day they could be the lead producer for the flagship program. Some people may host a show one day and the next they could just be field reporter helping out with a story. It’s quite interesting to see the power structure shift so often.
Everyone has been very nice to me and have offered to help me understand things as I follow them around for the day. I’ve learned how to follow up on a story by getting to call someone to confirm names, times, and places where interviews for a potential television program would be held. I also had a chance to practice reading a news bulletin in one of the booths (pictured above). I’ve been learning how it takes several depeartments to film and edit different aspects of every show. I’ve watched live programs from the “gallery” where the producer, director, sound technician and several other people sit in front of 30 odd television screens and put together a show. I’ve also seen some of the work that happens before that by shadowing broadcast journalist, who edit videos to make headlines for television programs.
So far I have learned a lot and hope to learn a lot more in the coming days.