Broadcast Writing

  1. A Short History of Public Broadcasting
  2. A) Read the two texts and translate them into Russian in writing.
  3. Macr; Writing a Summary
  4. paragraph writing
  8. Steps in writing a program
  9. The Online Writing Process

Before reading the text, answer the questions:

1. Have you ever worked for television?

2. How does the work of a broadcast journalist differ from a writers?

3. What type of information do you think the public prefer nowadays the printed or broadcasted one?

Match these journalistic professions with what these people do:

Anchor Incorporates the news into the broadcast
Producer Shoots the video
Broadcast reporter Watches the news
Viewer Reads the news for the broadcast
Source Writes stories for newscasts, sometimes shoots video and takes pictures
Cameraman Provides the journalist with information

Which of these words give positive characteristic to the broadcast writing?







Conversational, tell-a-friend style

Give Russian equivalents to these words:

To suit smbs style

To be enhanced by



To strive for

Sound bites

To bog down

A nugget (of a story)

Stutter quote

To superimpose

(A reporter) standup

To jot down

Read the text and find out:


1. How the KSNT-TV works

2. How to organize the stories on the newscast

3. The main principles of writing for a broadcast

4. 8 basic tips to remember when working on broadcast writing


The KSNT TV is an affiliate of NBC. It is one of the three television stations in Topeka, Kansas. KSNT is the kind of station where reporters get their start. All but two of the 17 employees in the news department had less than two years of experience.

At KSNT and many local television stations, two anchors share the newscast. Sometimes anchors rewrite their portions of the newscast to suit their own style. Reporters write their own stories and submit the copy to the producer, who incorporates it into the newscast. And at a small station like KSNT, reporters double as photographers and shoot the video for their stories or for another reporter.

Although print journalism is enhanced by photos and graphics, broadcast journalism depends on visuals. A good reporter will let the pictures tell the story, John Rinkenbaugh, the news director, says. You strive for more visual than verbal. A newspaper reporter can write a story without even leaving the building. A TV reporter almost always has to be where it is happening.

The writing style also differs in some ways. Also a conversational, tell-a-friend style is suggested for newspaper writing, it is essential for television. Clarity is crucial. A newspaper reader can reread a sentence or paragraph that may not be clear; a television viewer doesnt get a second chance to hear an unclear sentence.

Brevity is also more crucial in television. The typical story a television reporter writes seldom runs longer than a minute and a half. That includes the sound bites, segments of the story showing the source in direct speech (called actualities in radio).

Stories on the newscast can be arranged in various order:

By topics, blocking similar stories about crime, government, education and so on, starting with the most significant story (the most common order)

By importance (from the most significant stories to the least)

By location, such as local, regional, state and national stories

By some combination of these factors


How to write for broadcast?

When Leona Hood writes a television newscast, she uses the WIFM principle Whats in It For Me. The me, in this case, is the viewer. She says you need to make people understand how the story affects them and why it is important.

When you write, think to yourself, How am I going to say this? Think like you talk and then write like you think, Hood says. That way you can imagine yourself telling someone a story. For every sentence you write, ask yourself: Would I say it this way to my neighbour?

One way to write conversationally is to write simple sentences. Keep the subject and verb close together, and avoid extra clauses and phrases. It means, write so people can understand it in the first go-round. Dont make the viewer try to figure it out, Hood says.

Making things simple for the viewer isnt so simple for the writer, however. You gather much more information than you can use. In broadcast writing one of the most important decisions you can make is not that you can put into your story, but what you have to leave out, Hood says. A lot of facts in a newspaper story are not important for a TV story. What you end up doing is just giving a nugget of the most important information. For example, the names, ages and addresses that you would include in a newspaper story might bog down a TV story. If you use the names of all the people involved, by the end of the 25 second for the story, you have completely lost the viewer.

To judge how much they can say in seconds or minutes, KUSA-TV writers get some help from a sophisticated computer system. The computer has a timer that converts number of words into the length of time it would take an average reader to say them.

But it doesnt help writers coordinate their stories with the video sound bites. Thats another skill that newspaper writers dont have to contend with. However, there are some similarities between using sound bites and using quotes in a print story. Broadcast writers must avoid repeating what the source will say in a sound bite. Thats like repeating a stutter quote in a print story giving a transition that repeats the quote. Parroting what the subject will say is a cardinal sin, Hood says. You enhance the pictures, not narrate them

However, you do want to repeat some information in the story. Unlike a newspaper or magazine reader, who may stop reading and resume later, a broadcast viewer has to be listening. But the phone may ring, the kids may cry, and the dog may bark, says Hood. So when you write for broadcast, you need to repeat some information the location of the story or the name of the key person if that is crucial to the story.

Here are some basic writing tips:

Write in active voice.

Use present tenses whenever possible. Present tense gives the story a sense of immediacy. But dont strain to convert a sentence to present tense. Use the tense that fits the story naturally.

Avoid long introductory clauses. Favour simple sentences with subject-verb-object order, instead of using complex sentences.

Put a human face on the story whenever possible. Try to find someone personally affected by the issue. You can start with the specific, using a person first, and then going to the nut graph. Starting with a general statement and going to a specific person is less effective.

Tell who says something before telling what was said. If the attribution is delayed until the end of the sentence, the statement may sound as if it is reporters opinion.

Use contractions with caution. Write them out. Let the anchors contract them if they want to.

Omit needless words. Words like which, that and who is arent always needed.

Limit the use of numbers. They can be numbing, especially to the ear. Use percentages to give comparisons where possible. If you must use numbers, you must round them off.

In general, keep your writing short and simple. Follow this advice from KSNT news director John Rinkenbaugh: The shorter the message, the greater the impact.

The process used for newspaper writing can apply for broadcast writing as well. And although television is stressed here, most of these tips also apply to radio writing.

1. Conceive:In addition to planning a story for its verbal content, you must consider its visual impact. Will your story contain sound bites from sources on camera, action at the scene or graphics to superimpose on the screen? Will the story contain a reporter standup (talking on camera)?

2. Collect: Just as with reporting for a print story, you need to gather more information than you can use. You dont need to describe a source or scene that will be shown on the screen, but you should gather other detail about the scene of an accident, disaster or breaking news event. Make sure you get the correct spelling and titles of your sources so their names can be superimposed on the screen.

3. Construct: For broadcast writing, as in newspaper or magazine writing, you need to plan your story like a road map. But with only 30 to 90 seconds to tell the story, it isnt a long distance trip. Selectivity is even more important for broadcast writing because you have so little time to tell the story. Start with a focus sentence to guide you. Jot down the most important idea you want to express. Then review your notes and select only a few other key points to include in an average 90-second story. As Hood suggests, consider what you can leave out. You can eliminate much of the detail you would write for a newspaper. Pictures and sound bites will take their place.

4. Correct: After you have written your story, edit it to remove unnecessary words, and the read it aloud.

Practical exercises:

1. Work in groups. Design a newscast, based on your local newspaper. Choose 5-7 stories for your newscast. Decide which should be briefs and which should be longer packages. List the stories in the order you would present them: by topics, location, significance or a combination.

2. Cover a university or local event, and write it up as a broadcast package. Write your quotes as sound bites. Or write a broadcast package based on a newspaper story. Write the quotes you want to use in sound bite form.


: 2014-11-13; : 15;

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