Broadcast Journalism Ten Differences Between Broadcast and Print
#1: BE CONVERSATIONAL • In broadcast, you write the way you talk • Your language will be more relaxed, to a point • Watch out for construction delays if you’re driving on Sessoms tomorrow. • Tomorrow, today, last night, tonight…
#2: KEEP IT SHORT • Broadcast sentences are incredibly short and simple • Avoid lengthy introductory clauses • Clauses are not your friend in broadcast writing • PRINT: John Smith, a San Marcos taxi driver who claims a passenger was drunk and insulted him Monday night, was arrested and charged with assaulting the passenger. • BROADCAST: A San Marcos cab driver is in jail, accused of attacking a passenger.
#3. GET RID OF INVERTED PYRAMID • Broadcast stories have beginning, middle and end • You want the viewer or listener to stick with the story and keep watching/listening • Final line typically advances the story • The San Marcos city council will vote on the issue tomorrow.
#4: USE PRESENT TENSE WHEN POSSIBLE • Timeliness is a major difference between broadcast and print • PRINT: A San Marcos man was hospitalized Monday night after he was hit by a train. • BROADCAST: A San Marcos man is recovering this morning after being hit by a train. • Don’t be afraid to use past tense, but you should always look for fresh story angles
#5. MOST CONTRACTIONS ARE OKAY • Because we’re writing like we talk, you can use contractions in broadcast writing • The only time to avoid contractions are when they are audibly confusing • Are, aren’t, jury’s, etc.
#6. QUOTES/ATTRIBUTION ARE DIFFERENT • Attribution goes at the beginning • PRINT: Jones confessed to murdering his wife, police said. He could face the death penalty if convicted. • BROADCAST: Police say Jones confessed to murdering his wife. • PRINT: “I felt like I was at home,” said President Obama. • BROADCAST: President Obama says he felt like he was at home.
#6. QUOTES/ATTRIBUTION ARE DIFFERENT • Important notes about quotes/attribution: • In broadcast, it’s better to just use the actual sound from someone than trying to paraphrase what they said. • Always use some kind of title or descriptor • Vice President Joe Biden • Police chief Howard Williams • Texas State president Denise Trauth • Mass comm major Vaughn Wolfe • San Marcos resident Steven Torres
#7. PRONUNCIATION IS IMPORTANT • If you have a tough-to-pronounce word or name, you need to let talent know how to say it • Mahmoud (Mock-mood) Ahmadinejad (Ack-ma-dee-nah-jad)
#7. PRONUNCIATION IS IMPORTANT • One important note about names: • If the name isn’t vital to a broadcast story, don’t include it • Most spot news/crime stories will not have names associated with them
#8. PUNCTUATION HELPS YOU READ • Dashes and/or ellipses show when to pause • Quarterback Tony Romo says he’ll be ready to play…and win…this next season. • Let talent know when a word needs emphasis • City council *has* to pick a firm by tomorrow.
#9. AVOID ABBREVIATIONS • In broadcast, spell out just about everything • ST: Is that saint or street? • DR: is that doctor or drive? • Well-known acronyms are used (with hyphens) • F-B-I, I-R-S, N-C-DOUBLE-A or N-C-A-A • If pronounced like a word, no hyphens • NATO, NASA
#9. AVOID ABBREVIATIONS • An important note: • Avoid symbols in broadcast writing • $ = dollars • % = percent • At and And • d-b-2-8-4-5-5 at Texas State dot e-d-u
#10. ROUND OFF NUMBERS AND SPELL THEM OUT • Numbers can create massive chaos in a broadcast story (and take incredibly too long to read) • PRINT: The thieves stole $397,945 worth of jewelry. • BROADCAST: The thieves stole nearly 400-thousand dollars worth of jewelry.
#10. ROUND OFF NUMBERS AND SPELL THEM OUT • A few important notes about numbers: • 0: zero • 1-11: spell out as words • 12-999: use numerals • More than 999: use a combo of numbers and words (13-thousand, etc.) and round off if possible
Broadcast Journalism • DON’T FORGET • You get one shot for your story to make sense in broadcast • You have to make it as easy as possible for the talent to read clearly • Viewers/listeners can’t re-read the story if they’re confused