Week 5 (2/9): Writing for broadcast news

journalists in the al jazeera newsroom
Al Jazeera English newsroom. Photo: Paul Keller/CC/flickr


Class discussion: How do you interact with TV and Radio news?

Elements used in TV news:

    • A script written by the reporter
    • On-location footage featuring the reporter and interviewees
    • Video footage supplied by a cameraman
    • Audio recorded by the reporter (narration and interviews with sources/witnesses)
    • Still images and graphic images (tables/charts/cartoons etc)
    • A news anchor/presenter

Key radio elements
    • A script written by the reporter
    • Audio recorded by the reporter
    • A radio news reader
Writing for TV and radio

Can be summarised as writing for the eye and ear or, in the case of radio, just the ear. You also are limited by time and your listeners can’t re-read a sentence they didn’t understand or missed the first time. So, there are some important things to keep in mind:

    • Keep your writing conversational
    • Each sentence should be short (20 words or less) and contain just one idea
    • Keep it clear and simple – no big words
    • For radio, your words must paint a picture

When you are writing for broadcast the most important element of your story is how it sounds. You might be writing a TV news story that features killer footage but the script you write, the words you use, are just as important because there is information even the most amazing pictures can never provide.

Just like in everyday conversation the most important part of finding the right thing to say is listening.

So, once you have written your script it is crucial that you read it out aloud so you know what does and doesn’t work.

But remember that your natural inclination will be to speed up, putting the timing out, so try to read it in “news reader” character.

One example

A script

And the broadcast version:


On this site:

Other useful websites:

Reputable news sites:

    1. Spend time browsing this list of government departments, pick an area that interests you and click on the minister or agency links to find a media release. You can use the news sites above for inspiration. Then write a script for a radio or television news story based on that media release. Length: 100-200 words (which equates to between 30 and 60 seconds)
    2. Choose a Creative Commons (CC) image – here’s how
    3. Submit to your Student Weekly Tasks folder in the Drive


Author: veritychambers

Journalist and teacher

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