Broadcast News Writing
Edward R.
Murrow
This instrument can teach, it
can illuminate; yes, and it can
inspire. But it can only do so
to the exten...
Edward R.
Murrow
One of the basic problems with
radio and television is that both
instruments have grown up in
an incompat...
Print vs. Broadcast
• More immediate
• Visual
• Passive
• Lacks depth
• Written for ear, not eye
Newspaper
• Longer sentences
• More words, details
• Not as conversational
• Attributes more often
• Uses parenthetical ph...
Broadcast
• Shorter sentences
• Fewer words, details
• More conversational
• Attribute less often
• Avoid parenthetical ph...
Writing for broadcast
• Preference for active voice
• Preference for present tense
• Attribution before assertion
• Short,...
Passive Voice
Some form of “to be”
Is, was, were, be, being, been
The receiver of the verb’s action is preceded
by the ver...
Advantages of active voice

Straight line meaning
Tighter copy
Complete reporting
More interesting copy
Verb Tense

Order of preference
Future

The city council will vote on the ban tomorrow

Present

The hurricane is batterin...
Attribution before assertion

After

Before

The election is tomorrow,
the mayor said.

The mayor says the election is
tom...
Parenthetical Phrases
• Governor Smith, who is 46 years old, the
father of two, and a published author, is
running for a t...
Basic scripting rules
• Standard-sized

•
•
•
•

• Upper case
paper
• Ellipses
Use only one side
• No dateline
One story p...
Broadcast writing rules
• Phonetic spellings

• Cairo (KAY-rho), Illinois

• Eliminate abbreviations

• Except common ones...
Broadcast writing rules
• Use st, rd, and nd after dates, addresses,
and numbers to be read as ordinals

• 2nd Avenue, 16t...
Handling numbers
• Spell out numbers one through eleven
• Translate other amounts into digits and words
• Never $12,000,00...
•

CRABB, Texas (AP) Voters in this farming community Saturday
overwhelmingly rejected a plan to incorporate, a move the t...
•

(CRABB, TEXAS) – EFFORTS BY THE 12-YEAR-OLD MAYOR OF
CRABB, TEXAS, TO INCORPORATE THE COMMUNITY HAVE FAILED
BUT HE SAYS...
•

PROVO, Utah­­­­ – A 31-year-old woman was stabbed and
robbed Friday morning in downtown Provo, police said.

•

Shortly...
POLICE ARE LOOKING FOR TWO TEEN• PROVOWHO STABBED AND ROBBED A THRITYAGERS
ONE-YEAR-WOMAN FRIDAY.

THE VICTIM WAS WALKING ...
•

PROVO, Utah ­– A partially devoured woman’s body was found
early Saturday in the outdoor lion enclosure at the Provo Ci...
• PROVO CITY ZOO WORKERS FOUND A

PARTIALLY DEVOURED WOMAN’S BODY IN AN
OUTDOOR LION ENCLOSURE.

•

A ZOOKEEPER FOUND THE ...
PROVO, Utah Thieves have stolen seven Picasso
• paintings worth–more than $40 million from BYU’s
Museum of Art, police sai...
• POLICE IN PROVO, UTAH, ARE LOOKING
FOR SEVEN PICASSO PAINTINGS. THIEVES
GRABBED THEM FROM AN ART GALLERY
OVER THE WEEKEN...
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Broadast52410

  1. 1. Broadcast News Writing
  2. 2. Edward R. Murrow This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can inspire. But it can only do so to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box.
  3. 3. Edward R. Murrow One of the basic problems with radio and television is that both instruments have grown up in an incompatible combination of show business, advertising and news... And when you get all three under one roof, the dust never settles.
  4. 4. Print vs. Broadcast • More immediate • Visual • Passive • Lacks depth • Written for ear, not eye
  5. 5. Newspaper • Longer sentences • More words, details • Not as conversational • Attributes more often • Uses parenthetical phrases • Gives precise numbers • Uses direct quotes • Constructed in inverted pyramid style
  6. 6. Broadcast • Shorter sentences • Fewer words, details • More conversational • Attribute less often • Avoid parenthetical phrases • Rounds off numbers • Rarely uses direct quotes • Stories constructed with a beginning, middle, end
  7. 7. Writing for broadcast • Preference for active voice • Preference for present tense • Attribution before assertion • Short, direct sentences • No abbreviations • Symbols, numbers spelled out
  8. 8. Passive Voice Some form of “to be” Is, was, were, be, being, been The receiver of the verb’s action is preceded by the verb The actor of the action is often at the end of the phrase
  9. 9. Advantages of active voice Straight line meaning Tighter copy Complete reporting More interesting copy
  10. 10. Verb Tense Order of preference Future The city council will vote on the ban tomorrow Present The hurricane is battering the coast Present perfect The president has resigned Past The president resigned
  11. 11. Attribution before assertion After Before The election is tomorrow, the mayor said. The mayor says the election is tomorrow.
  12. 12. Parenthetical Phrases • Governor Smith, who is 46 years old, the father of two, and a published author, is running for a third term. • Governor Smith is running for a third term. He’s 46.
  13. 13. Basic scripting rules • Standard-sized • • • • • Upper case paper • Ellipses Use only one side • No dateline One story per • End mark # # # page • Break at natural Double space point if story carries over Indent to the next page
  14. 14. Broadcast writing rules • Phonetic spellings • Cairo (KAY-rho), Illinois • Eliminate abbreviations • Except common ones, like YMCA, Dr. Mrs., U-N, etc. • Titles precede names
  15. 15. Broadcast writing rules • Use st, rd, and nd after dates, addresses, and numbers to be read as ordinals • 2nd Avenue, 16th Street, etc. • Set off quotes which phrases such as: • “in these words...” • “as she put it...” • Avoid “quote” and “end quote”
  16. 16. Handling numbers • Spell out numbers one through eleven • Translate other amounts into digits and words • Never $12,000,000.00 • Better: 12-million dollars • Use thousands, millions, billions, trillions • Avoid dollar & cents signs, decimal points • Round out complex numbers
  17. 17. • CRABB, Texas (AP) Voters in this farming community Saturday overwhelmingly rejected a plan to incorporate, a move the town’s 12-year-old mayor had sought to prevent annexation by neighboring cities. • “It’s back to the drawing board,” frowning Mayor Brian Zimmerman said after the 595-30 vote against incorporation, which also allowed him to keep his job. • Only 33 percent of the 1,911 eligible voters cast ballots, and Zimmerman wasn’t among them because of his age. • Although failing in his campaign promise of incorporation, Zimmerman gets to retain his title as mayor. He said he doesn’t plan to give up on incorporation. • When Zimmerman, then 11, was elected mayor in an unofficial election in September, he vowed to put Crabb on the map by seeking incorporation. • Incorporation, he said, would prevent adjacent cities such as Richmond, Rosenberg and especially Houston from annexing it. Crabb is about 20 miles south of Houston.
  18. 18. • (CRABB, TEXAS) – EFFORTS BY THE 12-YEAR-OLD MAYOR OF CRABB, TEXAS, TO INCORPORATE THE COMMUNITY HAVE FAILED BUT HE SAYS HE DOESN’T PLAN TO GIVE UP ON INCORPORATION. • THE MAYOR PUT IT THIS WAY: “IT’S BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD.” • MAYOR BRIAN ZIMMERMAN, WHO WAS ELECTED WHEN HE WAS 11 YEARS OLD,VOWED TO PUT CRABB ON THE MAP BY SEEKING INCORPORATION. HE SAID IT WOULD PREVENT NEIGHBORING CITIES – INCLUDING HOUSTON – FROM ANNEXING IT. • ABOUT ONE-THIRD OF CRABB’S NEARLY 2,000 ELIGIBLE VOTERS CAST BALLOTS. ZIMMERMAN WAS NOT ONE OF THEM …. HE’S NOT OLD ENOUGH. • THE YOUNG MAYOR DID NOT LIVE UP TO HIS CAMPAIGN PROMISE OF INCORPORATIONN. BUT THE LANDSLIDE VOTE AGAINST INCORPORATION DOES HAVE ONE POSITIVE EFFECT – ZIMMERMAN GETS TO KEEP HIS JOB.
  19. 19. • PROVO, Utah­­­­ – A 31-year-old woman was stabbed and robbed Friday morning in downtown Provo, police said. • Shortly before 11 a.m. Friday, the victim was walking down an alley to the south of the 600 block of Park Avenue, said police Sgt. Andrew Wheeler. • Two teen-agers accosted her and demanded money, Wheeler said. She told them she had no money so one of them stabbed her twice in the leg, he said. • The teens then took an undisclosed amount of cash from the woman and fled west down the alley on foot, Wheeler said.
  20. 20. POLICE ARE LOOKING FOR TWO TEEN• PROVOWHO STABBED AND ROBBED A THRITYAGERS ONE-YEAR-WOMAN FRIDAY. THE VICTIM WAS WALKING DOWN AN ALLEY • TO THE SOUTH OF THE SIX HUNDRED BLOCK OF PARK AVENUE SHORTLY BEFORE ELEVEN A.M. THE TEEN-AGERS WOMANAFTER • SHE SAID SHE HADSTABBED THETHEN THEY NO MONEY. TOOK HER MONEY AND FLED EAST DOWN THE ALLEY ON FOOT.
  21. 21. • PROVO, Utah ­– A partially devoured woman’s body was found early Saturday in the outdoor lion enclosure at the Provo City Zoo. A zoo official said two lions were in the enclosure at the time. • Police Department spokesman Sergeant Joe Gentile said the cause of death had not been established. The woman was not immediately identified. • A zookeeper discovered the body at about 7 a.m. He coaxed the animals back into the lion house and called police. • A spokesman for the zoo, Marc Bretzfelder, said the dead woman was not a zoo employee.
  22. 22. • PROVO CITY ZOO WORKERS FOUND A PARTIALLY DEVOURED WOMAN’S BODY IN AN OUTDOOR LION ENCLOSURE. • A ZOOKEEPER FOUND THE UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN AT 7 A.M. SATURDAY. HE COAXED THE TWO LIONS BACK INTO THE LION HOUSE AND CALLED POLICE. • A POLICE SPOKESMAN SAYS THE CAUSE OF DEATH HAS NOT BEEN ESTABLISHED. THE VICTIM WAS NOT A ZOO EMPLOYEE.
  23. 23. PROVO, Utah Thieves have stolen seven Picasso • paintings worth–more than $40 million from BYU’s Museum of Art, police said today. Provo police said the break-in • weekend through the basementoccurred over the of a neighboring building. A • andpolice statement said tow works, “Seated Woman,” “Christ of Montmarte,” were the most valuable of the paintings stolen. Both paintings were stolen in 1991 from a Zurich gallery and were recovered the following year.
  24. 24. • POLICE IN PROVO, UTAH, ARE LOOKING FOR SEVEN PICASSO PAINTINGS. THIEVES GRABBED THEM FROM AN ART GALLERY OVER THE WEEKEND. FAMOUS PAINTINGS ARE • THE MOST“SEATED WOMAN,” AND “CHRIST PICASSO’S OF MONTEMARTE’ (MONT – Mar – Tay)– BOTH RECOVERED FROM A PREVIOUS THEFT IN 1991 FROM A ZURICH GALLERY.
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