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Guidelines on making radio packages and script-less reports

Networking & Advocacy > Guidelines on making radio packages and script-less reports

Training on radio journalism for the project 'Aurat, Ghairat aur Qatl'


This workshop was held on 16th October 2006. The workshop was conducted by Uks to train its radio journalists in preparing radio reports . This workshop primarily focused on the making of package reports and script-less reports. The radio journalists at Uks were preparing for a new series on 'honor' crimes so they were also given guidelines on working on sensitive issues and areas.

Mr. Wuss’atullah addressed this workshop. He is a journalist for BBC and has vast experience working in the field and studio.

Mr. Wuss'atullah had a very informal method of training, actively involving and encouraging comments and queries from the workshop attendees.


Guidelines on making Radio Reports

1.Getting access to information in sensitive areas
Mr. Wusstullah said that he had worked on the issue of ‘karo kari’ in 1998, in areas of Thul, Jacobabad, (Balouchistan), where the majority of people conversed in the local language. In these areas the communities are closely knit, hence any outsiders become very conspicuous. And when people find out his/her purpose for being there they naturally become conscious. So, although they treat you hospitably, talk nicely but are not comfortable sharing personal information.To penetrate, one needs to have an insider or local contact who is also influential. He himself went around with a sardar of a local tribe. So he had access to ‘karo kari’ cases be it males or females, at least of that tribe.

2. Getting both sides of the picture
Information should be collected on all the affected ones in 'honor' crimes, male or female. Usually only the female is considered the sufferer and the male counterpart without whom the whole episode would not had taken place(!), is ignored who is also victimized and ill-treated. He can escape only if his tribe gives him refuge.

He related his account of how in a ‘Sargi’ tribe he found a man who told him how he had eloped with a woman of another tribe. The woman’s brother tried to kill her but luckily she survived the attack. Mr. Wussatullah gained access to her brother too and found out that her brother himself had eloped with a woman! So, he stressed on getting both sides of the picture if access can be gained.

Uks, like other standard radio features, tries to get both sides of the picture or if information could not be accessed at least mentions that the source could not be contacted.

3. Structuring the Program
The process of structuring the series into episodes can be difficult especially if the recordings are not studio-based but field-based. Mr. Wussatullah said that his personal practice is to collect all data and recordings first, and then devise a structure rather than having a pre-conceived structure and being confused later on. He told the trainees to begin with a simple notion, the area, the issue, and the characters. Then the material collected itself forms into a structure.

Talking about using interviews in programmes he said that some could be very revealing and moving thus eliminating the need to add any script. Others may be simple, providing data just enough to form a basis for discussion, and some may require other ‘links’ (music, script etc.) to form a flow.

4. Making the program unique
Uks has already produced a number of series on violence against women. So, it was important that the latest venture on 'honor' crimes be interesting and different.

Mr. Wussatullah said that the basic 'ingredient' was to get maximum involvement of actual characters in the program since discussion-based programs on such issues have become boring. Letting the real players be heard can create the difference and to let the listeners infer their own conclusions rather than the reporter forcing her/his views on them. Using original voices in the local languages and accents with translated voice-overs are effective, thus making the report script-less and minimizing presenter’s statements.

The challenge is to reduce monotony. Each 15-minute episode can be presented in a different format.

5. Critical analysis
Once a program has been compiled other experienced persons should analyze it as well. But in addition to radio producers and experts on the issues a common man preferably a local should analyze it too, an “Islamabad local analyst cannot assess a problem being faced by a person in Lora Lai!”

6. Ethical issues
There are some ethical issues that must be catered to when making a report. These must be given due consideration to avoid being challenged later. Also each issue must be researched thoroughly and data should be collected from reliable sources to ensure the report generated is authentic. Some rules to be considered are:

  • To work according to the cultural norms of the region, and adapt to the ways acceptable to the locals e.g. in Abbotabad and Mansehra one cannot take women’s maiden names and it is customary to refer to them by their husbands or fathers’ names. Therefore learning and respecting local social norms helps to pave the way to easier access to information.
  • To confirm the actual story first hand about a tribe, area or person. To avoid rumours and to bust myths and stereotypes.

7. Protection of people providing sensitive info
The information on sensitive issues has to be extracted very skillfully from subjects. First it is important to gain their trust since their life may be threatened. So it helps to give the victim/player/ subject these choices:

  • To keep their identity secret and promise them anonymity
  • To use the information provided by them under an alias
  • To mention their name and identity in the report with their permission only
So, the characters need to be given their privacy and confidentiality.