University Station Alliance

Linking public broadcasting stations and their university partners since 2001

Sample Job Description: News Bureau Chief

Summary: Position gathers, writes, produces and reports news and features for air on [STATION] Public Radio and [STATION] Public Television. The Bureau Chief supervises a videographer position and covers stories of statewide interest within a specific city/area.

Duties and Responsibilities (List in order of importance and explain major duties/responsibilities of position. Indicate average amount of time spent performing each duty. Total should be 100%)

  • 40%    Produce program segments for public television programs For the Record and [STATION] @ Work, including determination of segments, assignment of videographer, writing, reporting and distribution via microwave. Arrange “live” guests for Montgomery APT.
  • 35%    Produce program segments for [STATION] Public Radio including news, interviews and features. Includes piggyback segments produced from TV pieces and original radio segments. Arrange “live” guests for APR in Tuscaloosa.
  • 15%    Write and produce documentary for The [STATION] Experience over every 12-18 month period. This would include some downtime from gathering news to produce a 30 minute feature program for air on APT. Coordination through the [LICENSEE] programming director.
  • 10%    Coordinate management of bureau, which includes working with budget officer on expenditures for supplies, etc. required of the bureau and/or working with technical staff on problems related to producing and distributing programming.

Complexity and Creativity

The person in this position is trusted with interviewing sources – both officials and average citizens – often in high-pressure situations. It is vital that they be able to exercise good judgement and ethical behavior with little direct guidance.

For example, the AmTrak train disaster of a few years ago would have been a story this individual would be asked to cover from the Mobile bureau. In that situation, the bureau chief would need to know how to sensitively interview witnesses and relatives of the victims, how to professionally interact with police officials, how to quickly write, edit and feed news packages and how to continue to follow the story.

  • The bureau chief would face problems that demanded quick thinking and problem solving skills due to the inaccessibility and confusion of the accident scene, the magnitude of the disaster, and the on-going investigation.
  • As bureau chief, this person must have a well-developed sense of what is news and how to properly gather information and report it. In [STATION] Public Radio’s Constitutional Documentary, one of our reporters recognized the significance of a seemingly meaningless local event. An Orange Beach man was trying to build a pier on some of his beach property. But as it turned out, it was a key example of how the state’s constitution restricts local governments from making such regulatory decisions, and the state legislature had to consider the man’s pier request, thus making it a story of statewide interest.
  • Self motivation is essential. As with APR’s bureau reporters in Florence and Montgomery, this bureau chief must stay informed about local events and would be responsible for keeping the news department up to date on those issues through follow- up reports. The bureau chief also would be responsible for making him/herself familiar with the area’s news sources, government, history, etc.

Impact on Institutional Mission

  1. Positive Impact:
    When duties are performed responsibly and creatively, quality programming will be produced and delivered to public television and radio. The goal of the legislative funds provided for this position is to serve a critical area of the state such as Mobile or Huntsville by providing an outlet in public broadcasting for news and features important to those communities and the rest of the state.
  2. Negative Consequences:
    If program segments for public broadcasting are not properly produced — for instance, the news gathering is poor or the writing is shoddy – it will reflect poorly on the University and public broadcasting statewide. If the bureau is not run properly and the videographer position is unsupervised, the consequences could lead to a shutdown of the bureau and the dissolution of funding.

Guidance and Review

The Bureau Chief position is fairly independent in their decision-making. They should become the expert on news/features within their coverage area and therefore should determine what and how to cover the news.

However, contact via email or phone will occur daily with TV and Radio staff to determine what stories are in the pipeline for daily news programming and what features/news segments are in progress for later distribution. Critiques

of news stories will occur informally on a regular (weekly) basis. Goals for program output will be in place and the supervisor will meet face to face quarterly with the Bureau Chief to discuss progress and other issues.

Departmental Policies and Procedures

This position will follow guidelines, policies and procedures already in place for the Center for Public TV & Radio as well as University guidelines for employees.

Internal and External Contacts

  1. Inside University
    Regular communication will occur with the [STATION] Public Radio News Director as a daily determination much be made about coverage of news. Secondarily, this position will communicate with other radio station staff including news reporters and anchors. In addition, as this position also encompasses the production of a documentary periodically, the position will work through the [LICENSEE] Program Director position on topic and deadlines. Another regular contact will be the Director of Engineering at [LICENSEE], since the bureau equipment must remain operational.
  2. Outside University
    Regularly discusses program production with Director of News and Public Affairs at [STATION] Public Television. A great variety of others will be contacted by this position as they gather news — public officials within city and county government, school board, police and fire as well as regular citizenry.

Direction Exercised

  1. Student Workers
    Although not determined at this time, it is likely that 1-2 student positions will be supervised by this position via relationships with local Universities.
  2. Staff Employees
    Position is direct supervisor of the Videographer position within the News Bureau.

Nature and Extent of Supervisory Responsibility

The Bureau Chief will critique Videographer output daily and work very closely with this position on daily assignments and long term goals. The Bureau Chief will formally evaluate the Videographer.

Organizational Table

Organizational Table is attached.

Physical Demands

Physical demands may include assisting Videographer or shooting videotape equipment themselves. This would mean carrying a 25-35 pound camera and some support equipment such as lighting and audio on a daily basis. Some bending, lifting and carrying will be required.

Working Conditions

Working in office environment with several computers and other technical equipment. External working conditions, such as those related to working in the Mobile area, may include extremely hot weather conditions, heavy rains and hurricanes.

Position Specifications

Education: B.S. degree in Accounting, Business or related field required.

Experience: Two years financial accounting experience required. Office management or some supervisory experience preferred.  This position will require at least one year of experience to learn the major duties of the position, since many of those duties are annual in nature (i.e. year-end budgeting, external audits, radio pledge drives).

No certification required

Ability: Mastery of common accounting and bookkeeping software programs and techniques are required of this position. For example, the spreadsheet program Excel and database program MS Access. Must have ability to process numbers in a variety of ways and organize multiple accounts with a variety of deadlines and requirements. Must be able to juggle multiple projects simultaneously and still remain accessible to staff of the Center.