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Chapter 9: Writing for Broadcast Broadcasting Is the World’s Most Pervasive Medium of Mass Communication. Selection of News for Broadcast The following are some factors that broadcasters use to select news: Timeliness —the most important news value in broadcast news

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Chapter 9: Writing for Broadcast

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Chapter 9:Writing for Broadcast

Broadcasting Is the World’s Most Pervasive Medium of Mass Communication.


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Selection of News for Broadcast

  • The following are some factors that broadcasters use to select news:

    • Timeliness—the most important news value in broadcast news

    • Information, not explanation—broadcasters generally choose stories that do not need a lot of explanation to be understood by listeners

    • Audio or Visual Impact—broadcasters want stories that their audience can hear or see; stories are often chosen b/c of their sound or picture


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Characteristics of Writing

  • There are four Cs to broadcast journalism:

    • Correctness—or accuracy

    • Clarity—clear, precise language that contains no ambiguity; viewers cannot re-hear broadcast news—they must understand it the first time

    • Conversational—broadcast news must sound more conversational b/c people will be reading it aloud

    • Color—writing that allows the listener to paint a picture of the story or event being reported


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Characteristics of Writing

  • News more than an hour or two old may be considered stale.

  • The maximum length for almost any story is two minutes; normal length is 30 seconds.

  • Slang and colorful phrasing is generally not permitted in broadcast news.

  • Should be written in the present tense.

  • Omit the time element in most news stories.

  • Broadcast writers have to produce in a highly pressurized atmosphere: deadlines are imminent.


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Story Structure

  • Dramatic Structure—most common structure for broadcast news; it has three parts:

    • Climax—gives the listener the point of the story in about the same way the lead of a print news story does; it tells the listener what happened.

    • Cause—tells why the story happened—the circumstance surrounding the event.

    • Effect—gives the listener the context of the story and possibly some insight about what the story means.


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Story Structure

  • Broadcast journalists think of their stories as completed circles, not inverted pyramids.

  • Stories must be written to fit into the time designated by the editor or news director.

  • Getting the listener’s attention is of top importance in broadcast news! The first broadcast news story sentence should be an attention getter!

  • Broadcast news stories cannot go into the detail and explanation that print or web stories can.


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Broadcast Writing Style

  • Conventions of Broadcast Writing:

    • Titles usually come before names.

    • Avoid abbreviations, even on the second reference—except FBI and UN.

    • Avoid direct quotations if possible.

    • Attribution should come before a quotation, not after it.

    • Use as little punctuation as possible, but enough to help the newscaster through the copy.


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Broadcast Writing Style

  • Numbers and statistics should be rounded off:

    • Numbers one through nine should be spelled out; numbers 10 through 999 should be written as numerals; write out hundred, thousand, million, billion, and use a combination of numerals w/these numbers where appropriate (i.e. 15-hundred)

    • Don’t write a million or a billion, but one million, one billion


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Broadcast Writing Style

  • Personalize the news when possible and appropriate (use the word “you”).

  • Avoid external description—President and chief executive office of the University of South Alabama should just be stated: USA President…

  • Avoid using symbols when you write.

  • Use phonetic spelling for unfamiliar and hard to pronounce names and words.

  • Avoid pronouns whenever possible.

  • Avoid apposition—a word or set of words that renames a noun: ie: Tom Smith, Mayor of Mobile.


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Broadcast Writing Style

  • Use the present tense when it is appropriate.

  • Avoid dependent clauses at the beginning of the sentences.

    • Ex: Stopping at the first leg of his European tour…


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Broadcast Copy Preparation

  • COPY IS PREPARED FOR THE ANNOUNCER! Thus, there are certain rules most news stations will employ when preparing broadcast copy:

    • Type only one story on a page and provide an ending mark such as “—30—,” at the end of the page.

    • Use caps and lower case

    • Don’t carry over a paragraph to another page—begin the next page with a new paragraph

    • Don’t hyphenate at the end of a line

    • Indicate when tapes are coming into a story.


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Putting Together a Newscast

  • The key element in putting together newscasts is the timeliness of the stories

  • Stories that have more impact or involve more prominent people may take precedence over timeliness.

  • Availability of audio tapes, slides, film and videotapes often determines what stories are run.

  • Time is a pervasive factor in putting together a newscast.


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Types of Formats

  • Written copy/voicers—a story without actualities or sound bites

  • Sound Bite or Actuality—sound effects added to a story

  • Wrap-around—when a news anchor briefly introduces a story and the reporter; then the reporter gives the story and includes a sound-bite; the sound-bite is followed by the reporter giving a conclusion or “tag line”


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Types of Formats

  • Minidocumentary—This format allows a story to run more than a minute, and as long as 15 minutes. It allows for a variety of sound bites, interviews and even music to be incorporated into the broadcast.


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Types of Formats

  • Television newscasts can use any of the following formats:

    • Reader copy: Read by an anchor

    • Voiceovers: Reporter speaks over video, with original sound turned down, or off

    • Voiceover to Soundbite: Reporter talks over the video until time for the soundbite, then his voice is turned down and the soundbite is turned up


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Types of Formats

  • Package Stories: Anchor introduces a prerecorded mix of video, sound, voice and standup reporting

  • Live Shots: An anchor will introduce the story and tell the audience that the broadcast is going live to the scene, then the reporter on the scene takes the story from there, either with standup, or interview.


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Times are A’Changin’

  • Who would have thought that we would have gotten our first glimpses of war in Iraq from a video camera in a telephone?

  • Who would have thought crimes and tragedies would be caught on video phones and cameras mounted on building tops.

  • Who would have thought cameras would be used to catch red light runners?


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Times are A’Changin’

  • Digital cameras and video cameras have advanced to the point that almost anyone can be a broadcast camera person these days.

  • Broadcasts on the Internet allow for posting broadcasts to MySpace, YourSpace, or other services, by entrepreneurs around the world.

  • Broadcast, print and Internet are converging, opening up wide possibilities for broadcast.


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