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10 Rules for Broadcast Writing

A Journalism project for Chapter 9: Broadcast Journalism.

Brooke Lawrence

on 15 March 2013

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Transcript of 10 Rules for Broadcast Writing

TWO: Easy to Follow THREE: Don't use the inverted-pyramid form 10 Ways Broadcast Newswriting Differs From Traditional ONE: Friendlier Tone When you hear a news announcer's voice, it establishes a connection that's familiar. Newspaper stories generally have a proper writing style. Newscasters establish a friendly relationship by talking more naturally. i.e. "Here are the top stories we're following tonight: Watch out for construction delays if you're driving near the river tomorrow..." Broadcasts are written in the active voice. Subjects and verbs are close together. To avoid info overload, sentences are limited to one idea and less than 20 words. Simple words are used. Inverted-pyramid stories start strong and finish weak. Every second is crucial in broadcast newswriting. You must be able to hold your listeners until the final sentence. Give every story a strong ending such as: Zinger: "It turns out Ralphine is a 400 pound gorilla."
Summary: "For now, both sides are deadlocked."
Details: "The council will vote on the plan at tomorrow's meeting." FOUR: Use present tense Broadcast news needs to sound new and fresh, this is accomplished by using the present tense. This doesn't mean you should avoid the past tense, just emphasize on what's new or what will happen next. If a supreme court resigned yesterday, today's story becomes: "The president is meeting with advisers this morning to begin choosing a Supreme Court nominee..." FIVE: Contractions are acceptable Since broadcast newswriting is more conversational, therefore contractions are allowed. However, avoid using awkward contractions such as: there're
that'd Also be mindful that some contractions sound like plurals such as: "The jury's reached a decision." Instead, say: "The jury has reached a decision. SIX: Attributions require different treatment Make it immediately clear where your information is coming from, you should attribute your source first: "Police say Jones confessed." Since audiences cannot "hear" quotation marks, avoid using direct quotes. You can also provide sound bites for the audience to hear the quotes themselves. SEVEN: Phonetic pronunciation Broadcast news writers often avoid using names unless they are essential to the story. You can say "the president of Iran" rather than pronouncing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. When names are necessary, add phonetic pronunciations: Joseph Pulitzer (PULL-it-zehr) EIGHT: Punctuation Since in broadcast, you read off a paper, avoid hyphenated words at the end of a line. Also avoid jumping mid-sentence to another page. Add reminders like (MORE) to remind yourself. Use periods to indicate pauses and underline words that need emphasis. "Wellington says he'll be ready to play... and win... Friday night." NINE: Abbreviations and symbols You should spell out every word because abbreviations are confusing. ST. could mean Saint or Street. Acronyms that have individually pronounced letters should be written Y-M-C-A while NASA should not have hyphens. Avoid using symbols like %, &, or $. When in doubt, spell it out. GPA should be written "grade-point average." TEN: Numbers The audience will have a hard time hearing numbers, so instead of saying $397,728 you should round off and say "about $400,000." Precise numbers are confusing, so you should round them and use phrases such as nearly, more than, about, etc. To make numbers easier to read, spell out 0-11 and use words for anything above 999, such as: 20 million, 130 thousand.
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