Writing for the ear AND the eye This requires a number of changes from the way you write for the print media. People have only one chance to hear what you say. This means you must structure your news stories to accommodate the ear. As you know, with print media, you can go back and re-read something. Another difference: your broadcast should be conversational and written in a way that the reporter seems to be talking on an individual level. The best way to do this is with short sentences. Keep your subject and verb close together. Use the active voice. Avoid extra clauses and phrases.
KISS Broadcasters want stories that provide information in a simple, straightforward manner. Broadcast journalists should base their news stories on the Four Cs: correctness, clarity, conciseness and color. Correctness means accuracy Clarity means being easily understood Conciseness means brevity, or shortness or time Color means interesting
Structure A good broadcast news story is built on the concept of DRAMATIC UNITY – this means it has three parts, even if it is a short story. Those three parts are climax, cause and effect The climax gives the listener the point of the story – just like the lede in a print story The cause portion tells why it happened The effect portion gives the listener some insight into what the story means
Structure Here is a brief illustration of the three steps: CLIMAX – Taxpayers in Florida will be paying an average of 15 dollars more in income taxes next year CAUSE – The state senate passed the governor’s controversial revenue-raising bill by a 15 to 14 vote. EFFECT – The measure will raise about 40 million dollars in new revenue for the state next year. Much of it will be used for the governor’s education program. Broadcast reporters usually gather far more info than they can use. This requires some painful decisions on what to leave out. Sometimes, the name and addresses that are essential to a print story must be deleted from a broadcast story because they bog down the report. At the same time, broadcast stories often repeat certain words and terms in order to give the listener a second change to get something in that story – such as the name of a location of the story or a key person.
Writing for broadcast TIPS Write in the ACTIVE voice – what is this? - “Police want a tall, thing man who robbed a Casselberry bank yesterday.” Instead of: “A man who robbed a Casselberry bank yesterday is wanted by police.” - Also, avoid starting sentences “There is…” Avoid long introductory clauses like: “Although he is still homeless, a Winter Park man has a cardboard box in which to sleep.” Put a human face to the story whenever possible. People are usually more important in a story than facts. Also, and this is different than print stories, make use of the word “you” whenever possible. Put attribution first, which is opposite print. Tell who said it before you tell what he or she said. Also, avoid first quotes in the copy. If absolutely essential, precede with the word, “quote.” Do not conclude with “unquote.” Or use as the lead-in, “And these are her words…”
Writing for broadcast TIPS Avoid contractions whenever possible. “Can’t” might be mumbled to sound like “can,” which can change the meaning of the sentence entirely. Say, “cannot” “will not” and the like. Omit needless words: For example, words like “that” “which” “who” are not always needed. Coordinating conjuctions like “and, or, nor, but, for and yet,” can be eliminated by writing short, sentences instead of compound sentences. Limit the use of numbers in your broadcast stories. Spell numbers one through eleven and use Arabic for other numbers. Large numbers require a mix of Arabic and spelling. The so-called Rule of Three is a good one to follow, which states that the typical listener cannot keep straight more than three numbers in a row.
Writing for broadcast TIPS Write in ALL CAPS. This will, if for no other reason, remind you that you are NOT writing a print media story. - The TV news story’s beginning should be written to the visual aspects – the video, photos or graphics that accompany the story. The middle should concentrate on the three to five major points dealing with the story. The ending should be strong and visual. - The lede of a TV news story should contain the vital elements of the journalists’ questions, but not all. Clutter and confusion will result if you pack your broadcast lede with too many facts. - Focus on the important ones: Where, When and Who. The reason is that is requires more than one sentence to explain the more complex How and Why.
Writing for broadcast TIPS Where –is important because of the broad audience that TV stations or radio stations can reach. So, lede with Where when it is the most important element in the story When – most broadcast stories are written to stress the “today” aspect of the story. Avoid using “a.m. and p.m.” Instead, use “this morning” or “this evening.” Place time elements after the verb in the sentence: “Five students were arrested today… Who – place the title before the name of the person in broadcast stories. Avoid unfamiliar names in the lede (use a delayed lead in those situations). You can use a person’s age, occupation or other marker as further means of identifying him or her in subsequent sentences.
The Body Broadcast stories are shot. Once you have written a compelling lede, you will write the rest of the story, so focus on no more than three or four main points that relate directly to the focus point of your story. Rank them in order of importance. Limit transitions. An effective tool is to echo a word or phrase form one sentence by repeating it in the following sentence. This is called the “key word technique” Another technique for the body of your story is problem/solution. You state the problem, including supporting sound bites and facts, then consider possible solution.
Radio obviously does not have pictures. This means you must create word pictures for your listeners. And, radio newscasts tent to be shorter than TV newscasts. Thus, your stories will be even shorter. Each story will be from 13 to 20 seconds per story, or less than 40 words. No more than two or three sentences.Radio
You must tell your stories focusing on simplicity and humanity. Write conversationally. Use a clear focus sentence – write as though you were having a conversation with a listener. Put another way, do not write in a style that people do not use. Tell the story – avoid complex words and sentences Use active voice and present tense Use few numbers Type copy in all CAPS. Avoid punctuation as much as possible by writing short sentences. Use dashes to signify commas and dramatic pauses. Spell difficult words phonetically. Set the phonetic spelling in parentheses following the difficult word. Put in all caps the syllable that receives emphasis. Double space copy. Number every page. End each page with a complete sentence.Radio
Avoid quote marks. Use the word “quote” as lead-in to a direct quote but DO NOT follow with “unquote.” Use combo of Arabic and spelling for large numbers: 13-million 250-thousand dollars Spell fractions – use “point” when referring to decimals.Radio
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