Writing for broadcast
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Writing for Broadcast. Chapter 18. Print news is written for readers scanning a page with their eyes Print stories can be reread Most people like newspapers for their detailed information Prints stories are written based on word count and column inches.

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Writing for Broadcast

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Writing for broadcast

Writing for Broadcast

Chapter 18


Print broadcast differences

Print news is written for readers scanning a page with their eyes

Print stories can be reread

Most people like newspapers for their detailed information

Prints stories are written based on word count and column inches

Broadcast news is written for listeners and viewers tuning in with their ears and eyes (for TV)

Broadcast words, once spoken, are gone forever

People like broadcast news for quick, up-to-date info

Broadcast stories are written for length of time: 30 sec., 2 min., etc.

Print/Broadcast Differences


Print broadcast similarities

Print/Broadcast Similarities

  • Although the writing styles for print and broadcast are different, the types of stories chosen are not

  • The best stories for print and broadcast are also the best stories in print

  • Reporting and newsgathering are similar too: identifying central point, finding the best story angle, doing background research, conducting interviews, identifying best quotes/soundbites, writing well, and adhering to journalistic principles of accuracy, fairness, balance, and objectivity


Broadcast writing guidelines

Broadcast Writing Guidelines

  • Adopt a conversational, informal and relaxed style

  • Write short sentences that are to the point and limited to one idea per sentence

  • Present information in an up-to-date format

  • Use present-tense verbs

  • Round off numbers and give them meaning

  • Shorten long titles

  • Never put an unfamiliar name first in a story

  • Omit a person’s middle initial

  • Place the description, age, job title, and other identification before a person’s name not after as done in print

  • Leave out ages and addresses if they are not important to the story

  • Place the attribution before what is said: “who said what”

  • Avoid pronouns: may be unclear who you are referring to


Broadcast writing tips

Add phonetic spelling to ensure proper pronunciation: Bow-fort, North Carolina; Beuw-fort, South Carolina

Spell out numbers up to and including eleven

Use numerals for 12 to 999

Use “says” instead of “said” to sound more current and now

Use a combination of numerals and words for large numbers

Use words instead of abbreviations

Spell out figures, signs and symbols

Use hyphens for numbers and letters to be read individually: C-B-S

Avoid alliterations or tongue twisters

Broadcast Writing Tips


Pyramid vs inverted pyramid

Pyramid vs. Inverted Pyramid

  • The best broadcast leads are short: 12 words or so

  • Broadcast uses a pyramid style body of the story organization: complete story is written for time given, say 30 seconds

  • But like the inverted pyramid, the story often puts information in descending order of importance


Scripting broadcast stories

Scripting Broadcast Stories

  • Broadcast story “scripts” have more narrow left and right margins and are double spaced for readability

  • Corrections can be neatly made on script using block-style editing

  • See script example on page 496

  • Another example is on our website:


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