Announcing/Writing Broadcast News

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Broadcast vs. Print News[edit]

Broadcast news is...

  • meant to be heard
  • limited by time
  • shorter in length
  • present tense
  • simpler words
  • conversational lead
  • diamond style

While print news is

  • meant to be read
  • limited by space
  • longer in length
  • past tense
  • broad vocabulary
  • 5 Ws and an H
  • inverted pyramid

Print news uses the inverted pyramid style...

Broadcast news uses the diamond style ...

Print News Lede (The Woods) Red R. Hood, a young girl from The Woods, cleverly escaped serious injury yesterday afternoon when she was approached by a transvestite wolf while on her way to her grandmother’s house, according to sources close to the family.

Broadcast News Ledes

  • Summary lead

"A small girl cleverly escaped injury today when she met a wolf in the woods north of town."

  • Teaser lead

"It was a close call in the woods today."

  • Question lead

"Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?"

  • Staccato lead

"A girl...a wolf...and a lucky escape."

Writing for the ear[edit]

The KISS rule: Keep it...

  • Short
  • Simple

The AAA rule: write news that is...

  • Attention-getting
  • Audience-centered
  • Action-focused

Prefer active over passive voice "A wolf scares a little girl." (active) "The girl was scared by the wolf." (passive)

Timeliness -- use the present tense

Says is our friend

Say titles before names

Practice strategic redundancy; repeat important facts without sounding dull

Make sure the meaning is clear: "Police found two pounds of heroin in a large woman's handbag."

Be careful of homonyms: "Ninety were killed by Ebola virus." "Ninety were killed by a bowl of iris."

Use round numbers when possible.

Don't overuse pronouns; repeat names.

Fang's Easy Listening Formula[edit]

An easy to remember guideline for broadcast news writing is Fang's ELF:

Count all syllables over 1 per word in each sentence

A good guideline for broadcast news writers is to keep the average Fang ELF below 10. Higher values are harder to read and harder to listen to.

Professor Thompsen hopes you get a good grade on the next quiz. (Fang ELF value is 3.)

Professor Thompsen also sincerely wishes you achieve maximum success in a broadcasting career. (Fang ELF value is 14.)

Reading News Scripts[edit]

Anchors must read news scripts that typically contain abbreviations & cues like:

  • SLUG (brief story title)
  • TRT (total running time)
  • SOT (sound on tape)
  • VO (voice over)
  • CG (character generator)
  • SUPER (superimposed)
  • IN or INQ (in-cue, first words of a sound bite or package)
  • OUT or OUTQ (out-cue, or last words)
  • LS (long shot)
  • TS (tight shot)
  • CU (close-up)
  • XCU (extreme close-up)
  • OS (over-the-shoulder)
  • RS (reverse shot).