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  4. OVERVIEW • Journalism is being processed at a microchip speed in this computer driven age and ‘convergence’ has become the watchword of change. • Yet, people continue to be people with all of their attendant problems and concerns. • Those problems and concerns are the stuff of every newscast written.

  5. OVERVIEW • What is a story? : It is about PEOPLE. • Through storytelling, the reporter draws the audience into the story. • One must hence have a ‘storytelling’ approach towards the writing and reporting of broadcast news. • Also, Broadcast writing must concern itself entirely with the spoken word.  


  7. PRINT AND BROADCAST: THE DIFFERENCE • Art and science of broadcast news writing is: use simple, declarative sentences in this order – subject, verb, object. • Broadcast news writing must be clearest of all communications as the listener and viewer cannot go back and re-read a sentence like this one, which has a clause.

  8. PRINT AND BROADCAST: THE DIFFERENCE • It should be concise. • It should be told through the strongest characters. • It should distill a pile of details into simple descriptions. • Explain complex in easy to understand steps. • Focus on a story that leads to clear summation, or conclusion. • Constructed with a beginning, middle and end.

  9. PRINT AND BROADCAST: THE DIFFERENCE • The job of a broadcast journalist is to make an ever complex world a little more understandable. • In broadcast, we must do more with less. • Mervin Block, a network news writer has noted: an average edition of the New York Times contains about 250,000 words about thousand times as many words as a typical evening newscast.


  11. WRITING FOR YOUR LISTENER • People are listening. • Three golden rules of broadcast news writing: a) broadcasters both read and speak the words they write b) people hear the words broadcasters speak c) the words broadcasters speak must sound conversational.

  12. WRITING FOR YOUR LISTENER • Guidelines: 1) Making it conversational: Broadcast news is written for the ear while in newspaper it is written for the eye. People are human; they expect you to sound human. Words must be understood immediately without second thought. ‘Sound’ is a key word here. Thoughts must be expressed quickly, with clear and crisp sentences. Aimed at ordinary people .

  13. WRITING FOR YOUR LISTENER • For Example: • Print: Pope Benedict XVI joined U.S. President Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II on Friday by launching his own YouTube channel, the latest Vatican effort to reach out to the digital generation. • Broadcast: President Obama has a Youtube channel. So does Queen Elizabeth. Now Pope Benedict has one too. The pope wants to use the new channel to reach out to young people.

  14. WRITING FOR YOUR LISTENER 2) Declarative, short sentences: Broadcast copy must be as simple as possible. So keep your sentences simple and use basic, easily understood words. Mid sentence clauses force the listener and viewer to reassemble the sentence in their head. One should give one declarative sentence after another. Also, we do not communicate in real life using long suspended clauses, hence, avoid doing so in a newscast.

  15. WRITING FOR YOUR LISTENER • For Example: • Print: Milton E Mohr, former chairman, president and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles based financial data firm Quotron Systems Inc, who was credited with moving the company from near bankruptcy to dominance of its market, has died at the age of 85. • Broadcast: The man who built Quotron Systems Inc into a leading financial data company died earlier this week. Milton Mohr was 85; he had been suffering from cancer. He died in his Malibu home.

  16. WRITING FOR YOUR LISTENER 3) Up-to-date format: One should be able to convince the audience that the news is fresh. One should be able to make the news sound exciting and timely. One can either find something new to say about an earlier newscast. Or, one can rework the original lead to include new developments. Exciting details can be revealed about a story later on. An important skill is to narrate a story without making it sound stale.

  17. WRITING FOR YOUR LISTENER • For Example: • First version: A dozen men are under arrest after police raided a building in center city. Police say the men were cutting more than 100 million dollars in cocaine. • An hour later: Center city police now say that their raid on a cocaine factory that resulted in the arrest of a dozen men came after two months of surveillance by detectives.

  18. WRITING FOR YOUR LISTENER 4) Present tense verbs: Broadcast news must always present an image of immediacy. The broadcast news writer’s job is to tell the news as though it is in progress or has just recently happened. Use of present tense verbs, particularly present-progressive verbs, which suggest ongoing action, add to that immediacy. Broadcast is the immediate medium, print is the reflective one.

  19. WRITING FOR YOUR LISTENER • For Example: • Poor: Members of Congress ended their session today and headed for home. • Good: Members of Congress are on their way home after ending their session. • Poor: A hurricane warning was issued tonight for Florida and Georgia. • Good: A hurricane warning is in effect tonight for Florida and Georgia.

  20. WRITING FOR YOUR LISTENER 5) Round Numbers: Say ‘almost ten million rupees’ instead of Rs.9.86 million. This makes the figures easy to register in the brain and retain in the memory. But some figures cannot be rounded off- like, the stock market figures. We can use graphics on TV for better understanding. Avoid phrases like ‘less/fewer than’ and ‘more than’. Strive to reduce numbers in a broadcast story to the minimum.

  21. WRITING FOR YOUR LISTENER 6) Shorten long titles: Style dictates that the title should come before the name and some titles do sound conversational that way. However, ‘Secretary of Human Services and Welfare, Mr. Anand Shah’ is a mouthful. One way to handle the long title is to use the title alone on first reference and then in the next sentence, use the name only. Listeners will make the connection. For example: The Secretary of Human Services and Welfare says the system needs to be overhauled. Mr. Anand Shah says the current system is costing a lot.

  22. WRITING FOR YOUR LISTENER 7) Names and initials: Omit middle names and initials unless a person is well known by his middle name or initials. Do not use the courtesy titles or ‘Mr’ ‘Ms’ ‘Mrs’. Don’t use unfamiliar names in leads. Instead characterize the person by what has made him newsworthy. For Example: A Summerville man died in a fire today.

  23. WRITING FOR YOUR LISTENER 8) Age and identification: Broadcast reporters rarely include the age of a person unless age is germane to the story. For example people are interested in how old a person is when he or she dies. People are also interested in unusual angles to age. Spell out all names in addresses and directions that are part of addresses. But broadcast stories rarely include addresses unless they are an integral part of the story.

  24. WRITING FOR YOUR LISTENER 9) Attribution: Attribution is the most basic tool of journalism. You want your audience to know it, that’s why the attribution comes at the beginning of the sentence so there will be no mistaking who said what. Condense wording, titles, and names so as to make the attribution more easily understood. For Example: ‘President Kalam says he will be reelected’. OR “The Automobile Association of India said that 40 road deaths occurred over Diwali ”

  25. WRITING FOR YOUR LISTENER 10) Avoid direct quotes: The listener cannot see the quotation marks in a copy. If you feel you must use a direct quote, alert your listener that it’s coming. For example: Wrong: ‘I am not a crook’ the President said. Right: The President said, in his words, ‘I am not a crook’ Unless the quote is very dynamic, one should paraphrase it.

  26. WRITING FOR YOUR LISTENER 11) Avoid homonyms and pronouns: Homonyms are words that sound alike but have different meanings and spellings. Such words can confuse listeners. For example: bore/boor. Pronouns can be a problem when they are far from a person’s name or when more than one person is mentioned in a single sentence. For Example: The Boy Scout of the Year award was given to John by Mayor Harris. Immediately after the presentation, he slipped and fell off the stage.


  28. WRITING FOR THE ANNOUNCER 1) Phonetic spelling: An announcer mispronouncing a word can damage the best broadcast story. With unfamiliar names popping into the news, providing pronunciation assistance is vital. One should provide a phonetic spelling or pronouncer, which we usually do in parenthesis. We should also not confine phonetics to long names for faraway places. We should know whether someone named ‘Colin’ pronounces his name as ‘kah-lin’ or ‘koe-lin’.

  29. WRITING FOR THE ANNOUNCER 2) Hyphenate words that go together in a group. For Example: The 75-year old woman finished the race. 3) Spell out numbers up to and including eleven. For Example: ll may be two ll’s (letters) II (looks like two numerals). 4) Use a combination of numerals and words for large numbers. For example: One may pause at the figure $10, 110, 011 but can easily read ‘about ten million 110 thousand dollars’.

  30. WRITING FOR THE ANNOUNCER 5) Use words instead of abbreviations. 6) Spell out figures, signs and symbols. 7) Never use a period for a decimal. For example: Write 50-percent and not 50% or write seven-and-a-half-million and not 7.5 million 8) Hyphenate some numbers and some abbreviations on second reference. 9) Avoid alliterations or tongue twisters.


  32. LEADS FOR STORIES • Lead is the most important part in a news story because it sets the tone for all that follows. • Grab or hook the audience’s attention. • Can be exciting, dramatic, clever, intriguing or provocative. • Unless it is a feature, the lead must have an element of news and must answer the 5 W’s and H.

  33. LEADS FOR STORIES • There are a number of leads and a variety of ways to lead a story. • The decision of which lead to use depends on a number of factors, the most important being the nature of the story. • How the foundation is built determines how the house will look. The lead sentence determines how the rest of the story is constructed.

  34. LEADS FOR STORIES 1)The Hard Lead: It tells the vital details of the story immediately. Usually used for breaking news. For example: Atleast 30 people were injured in the collapse of a building. More than 20 dozen people were arrested in the drug bust. The government announced today that 150 Indians were employed in November.

  35. LEADS FOR STORIES 2) The Soft Lead: Alerts the audience to the news that is to follow. Sometimes called ‘warming up’ the audience. For example: A building collapses in Matunga. Atleast 30 people have been injured. A major drug bust in Mumbai. More than a dozen people are under arrest

  36. LEADS FOR STORIES 3) Throwaway Lead: Similar to newspaper headline. Summarizes information that will follow later in the story. The audience doesn’t really notice the throwaway because words used in the lead are avoided and additional details are presented. Do not overuse the throwaway lead. Audience members may come to feel the writer is “baiting”  them into listening to or viewing a story. 

  37. LEADS FOR STORIES 4) Umbrella lead: Often called shotgun lead, summary lead, comprehensive lead and round-up lead, ties together related stories. Most frequently used with national and international news. Provides smooth transition from one story to another. For example: Stories on the energy issue can be related…gas rationing ;;to..  cutbacks in crude oil sales by oil-producing countries.

  38. TO FOLLOW: • Body of a broadcast news story • Updating Broadcast News Stories • Guidelines for copy preparation • Putting together a newscast • Sources for broadcast news • The Newsroom Environment • Checklist for broadcast news writing

  39. SOURCES • Broadcast news writing for professionals By Jeff Rowe • Broadcast news: writing, reporting, and producing By Ted White • Writing for Broadcast Journalists By Rick Thompson • Writing for broadcast news: a storytelling approach to crafting TV and radio By Charles Raiteri • Writing and Reporting News: A Coaching Method By Carole Rich • › Broadcasting • •