24. Major radio principles

Radio broadcasting is a «hot» media. Hot in the sense that it brings the news immediately, right as it's happening, also because it’s a man or a woman talking to other men and other women, be they young, adult or old. It’s a voice. But one must tread carefully when it comes to fastness. One should never spread neither rumor nor hearsay. History has shown us just how far disrespecting exactness and objectivity can lead. 

On air delivery – the right tone

We speak more slowly on air than in real life, but we need to describe, to tell stories, to create pictures. We need to come off as lively, not as robot. You must find the right style, a simple one, fitting with your character. In just a few words, a reporter can describe an empty place, recently deserted by a crowd – and you will picture it, just as if you were there. Having your own style and on air presence requires perpetual work.

Respecting others

Our job is to give other people a voice, to let them be heard. The general public deserves the truth. Nevertheless, everybody is owed privacy and respect. There are strict laws against defamation and calumny both in Europe and in the USA.


Fact-check everything. Fact-check the information a first source has given you by talking to a second one. Should you have any doubt, fact-check again. When on air, you will be talking about “known facts”. Be precise, choose every word carefully, if you’re quoting a politician, for example.


Try to show all sides of the argument, especially when you’re dealing with a controversy, be it social, political or economical…


The vast majority of your audience is focused on basic needs. Their language is simple. If your audience can’t get what you’re saying, all the investigating you’ve done will have been done in vain.

No commenting

Commenting is judging, expressing an opinion. This is not why you’re there. Stick to the facts.

Protect your sources

Informing the general public is looking for the truth. Broadcasting some heavy news might upset some people or organizations. Sometimes, so as to make these news public, you will have to guarantee anonymity to the people speaking on air. In such a case, it’s said that a journalist must protect his sources, that is to say guarantee to the people giving him informations that they do so under the seal of confidentiality. Careful : this process is reserved for exceptional circumstances, when this technique is the only way you have of broadcasting major news.

Keep in touch with the newsroom

This is a must both in conflict areas and in peace time. Back at the station, the anchor and the editor need to know how you are doing so as to properly work on the broadcast.