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10 Rules for Broadcast Writing
Transcript of 10 Rules for Broadcast Writing
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.