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How to Write a Newscast Script


Television news, the most commanding form of storytelling around, uses sounds and moving images to tell stories so profoundly they could affect the people halfway around the world. Giving the news requires more than simple storytelling skills. The best stories embed background sounds are and make use of camera angle, wide shots and close-ups (i.e. the victim's tennis shoe left in the road or a windshield with crazed glass surrounding a bullet hole). As Jessica Grillanda puts it, a solid TV news story "appeals to both the eyes and the ears."

Telling the story with audio and video.

Collect the information: who, what, where, when and how. Knowing who cares---who this is going to affect the most and how---matters as well

Provide enough information in the first fifteen second to give the basic overview of the entire story.

Arrange the background information and the details to fill in the rest of the story in the remaining five to fifteen seconds. This may be cut so that other, newer stories can be included in the broadcast.

Think about how the story will sound "on air". If a word or phrase could be challenged, re-state it, backing it up with verifiable facts and specifics

Broadcast studios use News King or some other program to present the story in two-column format, with video images described in the left column with coinciding audio narration written in the right column.

Time the edited video story for exact length then read aloud while timing it, and adjust it to fit the video length. Screen the complete audio/video package for content, conciseness and accuracy.

Tips
  • Keep these things in mind when constructing a news story for broadcast:
  • • You can only talk for as long as you have images.
  • • Images speak louder than words, so images should bear witness to the words.
  • • Occasionally, the images are so powerful, that they have greater impact when shown without narration.
  • • Refer to images (i.e. closed doors) by saying something like, "The meeting is being held behind closed doors."
  • • Avoid puns and cliché descriptions of the video.
  • • Audio should relate to images shown so as not to confuse the listener. Audio sequences should not state what the video obviously shows, but should fill in the details that help make sense of the video.
  • • Timely stories matter; present stories related to seasonal events or to something happening on the local, national or international theater.
  • • Background sounds (traffic, crowds cheering or the roar of an airplane taking off) are integral to the storytelling process.
  • • Above all: When screening the completed story, make sure the 5 w's are represented in the final package.
Items you will need
Voice-over Narration
Embedded sound effects
Video long shots, medium shots and close ups
Interviews or sound bites
News King or other program that places news stories into two column format
About the Author

Joan Whetzel has been writing professionally since 1998. She has written juvenile nonfiction, movie and television scripts and adult nonfiction. Her juvenile nonfiction has appeared in such magazines as "Tech Directions," "Connect" and "Class Act." She was part of the production team that produced the documentary "Fuel for Thought" on Houston PBS. She has also written articles for Katy Magazine Online.

Photo Credits