Inquiry: Review Chapter 11, of Media Writing (Whitaker, Ramsey & Smith)
Writing good copy for broadcast news and media is a skill that requires regular practice. Broadcast copy uses the inverted pyramid structure but due to time constraints details are often cut. Writing to the required length is vital so information is not missed.
To add interest broadcast copy should have rhythm, cadence and an orderly flow and sentences should be brief, simple and energetic. The lead should include the most important aspect of the story. For a change of pace within the newscast a less formal soft lead should also be incorporated as a method of gaining attention.
Strong words and action verbs add impact, colour and interest while formal and difficult words should be avoided. Contractions should be considered for suitability and abbreviations should be spelt out to eliminate confusion for both the reader and audience. Slang and colloquialisms should be kept to a minimal. Never risk insulting the audience by using dialects of nationalities, sections of countries, race or ethnic background and avoid obscenities.
Finally, broadcast copy is not editorialised and does not require a reporter’s opinion. The listener should be left to interpret the news without being prompted.
The key differences between writing for broadcast and print-based media:
- Radio-TV stories is written for the ear, not the eye.
- Broadcast copy must reach the heart of the story in a simpler and more direct manner.
- Broadcast writing is conversationally scripted with the aim of clearly communicating the news to the listener.
- It is written with the report reader in mind and ease of readability and pronunciation considered.
- Past tense should be avoided in broadcasting as things happen ‘now’ however verb tenses can be mixed as long as the sentence makes sense.
- Punctuation for broadcast differ at times, semicolons create overlong sentences and should not be used while the use of a hyphen may be appropriate to create clarity in words that are difficult to pronounce.
- Numbers and statistics need to be made relevant and understandable to the listener and rounded off whenever possible.
- The TV/radio audience is generally time poor, lacks in attention or simply demands only essential news. The same broadcast story told in 30 seconds may be expressed by a newspaper writer in eight to ten column inches.
Practical: A broadcast audio visual script
I have created my broadcast audio visual script with the two column script option using the week 4 interview with my son, Rory.
Technical: Quiz 7 – Words
Chapter nine, Words has been my favourite read so far. I feel all too many writers, myself included make writing far too complicated by the continues search for a ‘better’ word. Hicks, advice ‘write as you speak’ is almost a relief and certainly makes sense in this genre.
In my haste to complete the quiz I achieved full marks in my second attempt. I found the majority of the questions were reasonably straightforward.
Hicks, W 2013, English for journalists, Routledge, Oxon.
Jess Creighton sports reporter 2016, digital image, BBC, viewed 18 September 2016, http://www.bbc.co.uk/academy/production/article/art20140627163648041
Two column, split-page script format 2016, School Video News, viewed 18 September 2016, http://schoolvideonews.com/Pre-Production/Two-Column-Split-Page-Script-Format
Whitaker, R, Ramsey, J & Smith, R 2012, Media Writing print, broadcast and public relations, Routledge, New York.
Words of life or excuses of death 2011, digital image, More than a Sunday faith, viewed 18 September 2016, http://www.morethanasundayfaith.com/2012/11/words-of-life-or-excuses-of-death/