media prep master the media

Media Speak: The Glossary

the words blah blah written on a post-it note

August 4, 2015

Have you ever been with people in the media and found that you don’t understand what they’re are saying? In a previous post, I talked about jargon and why you need to avoid it in media interviews especially when you’re dealing with mainstream audiences. Well, the media also use jargon and it can be a bit intimidating when you’re there to give an interview and the people around you are speaking a language you don’t understand. So here’s a glossary of some media jargon that will help you feel more comfortable the next time.

Green Room:

The room at a radio or television station where guests wait until it’s their turn. It’s not usually green.


The television shots that show the interviewee and the reporter/host together. For multiple camera interviews, they are done during the interview. If there’s one camera, they’re usually done before or after the interview.


These are the two-shots taken from behind the interviewee to show the reporter/host’s face. For single camera field interviews, they are done after the interview.


Pictures of the reporter/host listening. Again, for single camera field interviews, they are done after the interview.


After an interview, the camera is focused on the interviewer who asks the same questions asked during the interview. You may be asked to sit in to ensure matching eye lines for editing.

Two Camera Shoot:

When two cameras are used for a field interview. Due to the expense, this is rare and usually reserved for confrontational interviews or ones involving senior politicians and celebrities.


The line or two of copy that accompanies a photograph in the newspaper.


This is a small microphone also called a “pin mic” you might wear for a television interview in the studio or in the field. The cord is usually hidden in your clothing.

A Wireless:

This is a small microphone (lavalier) that doesn’t need to be plugged into the camera. The short wire ends in a small box that is typically tucked out of sight on the back of your belt or waistband.

To Mic Someone:

To arrange someone’s lavalier or wireless microphone

Raw Footage:

This is what the cameraperson shoots. It’s the interviews and the pictures – all uncut.


The main video footage for a television story. Primarily the interviews.

B-Roll or Cover:

The video for a television story. Everything but the interviews.

Walking Shot:

Video of the interviewee – alone or with the reporter/host – walking. This is a type of “cover” or “B-Roll” over which there will be script. It’s often a way to introduce the interviewee.

Natural Sound:

Sound that will be incorporated into or used under the words of a radio or television story.

Talking to Camera:

When a reporter or host looks directly into the camera when they talk.


The part of a television report where you see the reporter “talking to camera”.


Short for “interruptible fold back” – a term that’s never really used. It’s the device you wear in your ear to hear the questions during a satellite interview or “double-ender”.


Another word for headphones used in a radio studio. They’re also called “cans”.

Quick and Dirty:

When a reporter wants to get a quick comment. A TV reporter would just ask a few questions outside in natural light with a hand-held microphone. This would eliminate set-up and tear-down time.

Sun gun:

This small light attaches to the camera. Sun guns are used in scrums or when there’s no time to set up regular lights.

Reflector Board:

A piece of equipment made of shiny, reflective material. Held at the correct angle, it can direct the natural or artificial light onto faces to eliminate shadows.


This is when a studio-style radio or television interview or an entire program is taped to run at a later time or date. The video is sometimes modified or edited before it is broadcast.

Clip or Sound Byte:

The common term for the short interview comments used in a news story.

Hard Time:

A broadcast expression for concise length.

White Balance:

This adjusts the colour temperature of the camera to ensure that the colour is recorded accurately. White balancing is done by holding something like a white card in front of the camera.

Talking Heads:

A television term for the “head and shoulders” shots of the interviewees. If a story is “full of talking heads”, it’s a negative expression suggesting the story doesn’t have enough pictures.

Feed Box:

This is a central sound box often used at news conferences. Audio is controlled and piped through a feed box so reporters and crews can simply plug into the box to record sound.

Shaky Camera:

This is a deliberate technique where during an interview or while shooting “cover”, the camera shots are not steady.

Pool Camera:

This is a designated camera person who will videotape an event and then share the footage with other media outlets.

FTP (feed):

File transfer protocol is a means of uploading video material from various sources.


These are brand names for transmission systems that use cellphone signals to send live television images back to a station. They can be an alternative to a satellite truck and they work only where cellphone signals are strong.

Web Extra Interviews:

This is when a fuller or complete version of a radio/television interview is run on-line to reach a web-only audience. These are also known as “Internet Specials”.

Skype Interview:

This is a distance interview for TV/video that’s conducted through Skype.

A Remote:

This is an interview that is done at a distance. It can be done via Skype, satellite or other videoconferencing applications.


These are photographs used by print and web media.


This is the information that crawls along the bottom of the TV screen. Crawls often provide news updates and are not related to what you are watching.


This is a large microphone that can pick up sound from a longer distance and is often attached to a long pole.


A group interview that can be scheduled or impromptu. Reporters tend to stand very close to interviewees often surrounding them.


An unscheduled interview that typically occurs when the individual has refused requests for a regular interview or when the person is the target of an investigative report.

You’ll always feel more at ease if you understand the lingo. I hope this list helps you in your next media encounter.

media prep master the media

Irene Bakaric


(905) 616-0660