CHAPTER 9: BROADCAST JOURNALISM
Broadcast news is different than other types of journalism. There has to be some
emotional appeal and realism to it, and more often it requires less effort to understand than
other mediums. It sometimes feels like it treats news as “entertainment,” sensationalizing certain
types of news.
On radio, news starts when typically the news director is the one-person newsroom.
They’re often writing stories and being the anchor who delivers the news on the air in smaller
stations. At larger stations, there is a smaller team of reporters who delegate these
responsibilities A reporter may cover one to five different stories without formal beats, and they
will occasionally transmit news from the field for big breaking stories. Usually they will return to
the studio and select soundbites they’ll use for each story. When drafting a script, they
commonly will create several types of a story. Usually these are short, text-only (readers) for
anchors, while others becomes longer packages (wraps) that give the reporter’s narrative.
On television, reporters start their days with a news meeting, where the director and
producers select top stories for the day. Then, the assignment desk monitors who covers what
stories. Reporters seldom will predict where they’ll be covering stories. Commonly, they will
focus on one or two stories daily at a larger station, but at smaller ones some might report on
half a dozen stories with little time to do research, so be a fast learner! It’s imperative to work
side by side with photographers to assemble a package for a later newscast, which can take
hours. Most broadcast stories are extremely brief, and the stories are measured by length in
minutes and seconds rather than words (typically around four or five sentences that last 40
A radio story will start with the “slug,” which tells the name of the story, along with
writer’s initials and date. Numbers and abbreviations are written the way they’re pronounced.
Prerecorded cuts have out-cues with last words of the sound bite that is used. Some radio
stations capitalize words that need extra emphasis and avoid hyphenating words to make them
easier to read aloud.
A TV story will have the name of who is speaking is in parenthesis. Words that are hard
to pronounce are spelled phonetically. There is a “SOT,” which means that the sound on tape
has begun, and the reporter stops talking Most of the tech talk is on the left side of the split
page, often with the end of the sound bite’s dialogue and details on it,
Writing for broadcasting requires a friendlier, more conversational tone. Re