Reporter/producer Guidelines

Reporter/producer guidelines:

WINGS: Women’s International News Gathering Service is a weekly English-language syndicated radio program by and about women around the world. We have been covering the global women’s movement – in the broadest sense of that word – since 1986, with the collaboration of primarily women producers who work in noncommercial media (community radio, public radio, film and video, freelance, and podcast).

Non-Exclusive. Items specially produced for WINGS are wonderful. However, WINGS does not require an exclusive, so feel free to pitch previously aired material that can be adapted. Ideas can be sent to: wings@wings.org or wingsproducers@yahoo.com.

Topics. We cover everything from the hyper local to major, International news, but all within the context of international interest. This means that programs are framed in terms that listeners in other countries can relate to and understand. Frequent topics include: grassroots organizing, human rights, environment, law, politics, labor, economics, international relations, sexuality & reproductive rights, cultural survival, and technology. WINGS doesn’t use essays, editorials, publicity pieces, or self-help features. Occasionally we accept drama or humour. Ideas can be sent to: wings@wings.org or wingsproducers@yahoo.com.

Voices. The heart of a good WINGS story is women from the countries covered speaking for themselves. We want well-recorded, clear, intelligent, passionate statements, whether in the form of speeches or interviews or vox pops. (A good speech can be just as exciting as a documentary, and a lot easier to produce! Be sure you have permission from the speaker and/or the event producer to use.) Sound from an event can be a plus. Non-English speakers can be included with translation.

Translation. The WINGS translation style is to use significant chunks of the original voice – especially sections that reveal emotions and character. We don’t like the original running noticeably under the translation for very long, because it interferes with listenability on low-power stations – instead, we may use sequential translation or fade the original out and bring it up during pauses (help with this will be available).

Music. Unless you have cleared the rights, please do not include pre-recorded, copyrighted music.

Recording – technical: Audio submitted needs to be at 44.1 mHaz frequency, and can be mono (WINGS is released in 192 kbps mono). WAV or Aiff files are great; mp3, Ogg, or Mp4 (cell phone audio) may also work for us – but at smaller sampling rates, sound quality may be too compromised. If you are not trained in audio recording, please bear in mind that you cannot get a good radio recording from the back of a lecture hall, and that microphones pick up many sounds that our ears typically ignore. Email wings@wings.org to consult in advance if you have any doubts or questions. We can also provide a short tip sheet. [If you want training for free, check out your local community radio station!]

Narration. Narrator scripts should be brief and factual, helping the listeners with information and context. A typical listener might be a Canadian university sophomore or a second language woman in Africa, so bear in mind to clarify even common acronyms, avoid use of jargon or local slang, and give some basic idea of the location or governing structure of the country if that is relevant. Be specific about dates as well – not “last month” or “this year” – WINGS does not control station broadcast schedules and programs may be aired far in the future.

Avoid narrator editorializing. If you start telling the listeners what is good and bad, it creates a sense of bias that can easily backfire. We are offering voices and ideas they likely have not heard before, and they will be weighing that against whatever they already think they know. Present what your subjects say clearly and maintain a stance of journalistic objectivity to give them the best chance to be fairly heard.

Introduce your speakers (before or after their voices are first heard) and back-announce if the segment of their voice is longer than 90 seconds or so. Be sure you can reasonably pronounce their names! And try to get a clear current title or job description if relevant. (Please note down the correct spelling of their name and affiliation and send along with your program.)

Tone of voice. There are many styles of narration – we suggest you try to sound interested, clear, and slightly warm.

Editing. Pace. WINGS is heard in several countries and covers speakers with a wide range of accents in English. We are also presenting unfamiliar and complex ideas. For all these reasons, your program needs to include thinking space, so please do not edit too tightly.

Fact-checking. Keep an ear out for errors of fact a speaker or interviewee may have made. If in doubt, check it out – you may want to check several sources. If you find an error of fact, edit it out. Fact-checking is also useful for writing your narration script – look for reliable sources of coverage or references to add valuable contextual information. This may include an organizational website, the presenter’s online bio, or news coverage – if any – that can clarify dates, names, titles, and also any opposition perspectives that may be informative to mention.

Length. WINGS is a half-hour program, with a target length between 28:40 and 28:50. About a minute is taken up by our sound logo and closing credits, so we are looking for content between 27:40 and 28 minutes. Feel free to submit somewhat longer pieces on spec and we can edit or discuss how to edit for WINGS.

Editing No-nos: If you do shorten the piece yourself, please avoid these common problems: cutting out the breaths or cutting breaths in two; cutting off the starts or ends of consonants (or vowels); keeping something with bad sound because you love the content so much.

The Art of Structure: Remember that it is important to have something both relevant and interesting at the start of a program, so people don’t turn off the radio, and to think about how the content builds from one piece of information to another, and from one emotion to another, so listeners will stay tuned in and learn something.

WINGS final cut: WINGS reserves the right to make minor final adjustments on finished pieces.

Payment: WINGS has a tiny budget specifically for compensating women producers. We are grateful and reliant on donated audio from some of our sister feminist radio programs around the world. For freelancers who produce fully edited programs for WINGS, the rate is $204 USD per half-hour for first use, and $144 USD if the program is re-issued by WINGS in the future. For programs our editors substantially adapt from content received, the rate may vary. We can pay with a check on a US or Canadian bank, or via Paypal or Western Union. Western Union converts the amount into your local currency at a rate they decide.

Payment is upon release of the program

Shorter Features: We do collect short features that producers pitch and which they have already aired elsewhere. However, WINGS’ use of them is dependent on having enough appropriate short pieces to combine as a half-hour.