Broadcast writing and assignment….COMM 2221

These are very basic rules for broadcast-style writing. As you’ll see, many of them have been adopted when different people and groups write for the Web, blog, etc. When it comes to writing for the Web, generating traffic, SEO, etc., the British are conquering the U.S….in news.

1. Use active, strong verbs and the present tense is OK if it flows properly in context.
2. Attribution comes first. Joe Doe says….. In print style, we usually put attribution at the end: Blah, blah, blah, said Joe Doe.
3. Phonetic spellings of complex names/words. My last name might look like this on a broadcast sheet: Kat-er-in-eek-ee-uh
4. Short, simple sentences. Even more important in broadcast because someone is reading these words/sentences aloud on camera, into a mic, etc.
5. Rarely use direct quotes. If you must, keep them short, even 2-3 words instead of a complete sentence.

We got that B roll!!

The latest episode of Buckeye TV’s weekly news show. Let’s critique it.


Full script written in broadcast style must be on your blog.

Must come in between 55 seconds and 1:05 to receive full credit.

Must either read it live in class or provide a link to video on your blog. If you choose the recorded version, you must let me know in advance and be prepared to talk about the process of making it.

Must touch on at least 3 of these areas: politics, weather, sports, entertainment, national news, international news, local OSU news.

Must be real and factual. Nothing made up.

Include transitions. Have fun with them, but remember: boring and accurate is better than sensational but wrong. Here is a list of ways a consultant says TV news can capture attention.

Give credit where it is due if you cite an exclusive story of some kind.

Pronunciation counts! Be sure to pronounce all names, etc. correctly. Failing to do so is like spelling the name wrong in print.


Writing in first person

This piece ran in The Lantern last year. Short and powerful.

One of my favorite Lantern commentaries. A bit longer, also powerful.

One of my favorite stories. Only time I wrote in first person for the AP as a full-time reporter.

This is one of the better personal experience/memoir pieces I’ve read in a while. The author ran the AP’s political team in DC when I was on the business staff.

Headlines for Comm 2223 and 2221.

1. Numerals are fine. Proper AP style in a story requires you to write: “The man robbed three women at gunpoint.” But the heds for that story could say: 3 women robbed…or Man robs 3 women. The second one is better because “robs” is active while “robbed” is passive.

2. Periods are not needed! Very rare that you will need to use a period in a headline unless you are trying to write complete sentences, which is also rare. A semi-colon can be used to introduce a new thought. For example: Jobless rate hits 10 percent; 2 million people lost jobs in Oct.

3. Almost always OK to replace the word “and” with a comma. For example: Obama, Biden to visit Iraq….or Obama visits Iraq, Iran, Japan, China

4. Heds do NOT need to be complete sentences. See examples above.

5. Avoid question heds, quote heds, etc. They can be effective….RARELY!

6. Make sure the headline accurately portrays the story that follows. Think of them as 50- and 94-character sneak previews, OR PROMISES THAT MUST  BE KEPT.

7. Here are some to avoid!

Feature stories….Comm 2221

Good story. Compelling characters. Full use of senses. Strong scene setting. Narrative arc. Good quotes. Deep reporting. Memorable. Not hard news, but has a news hook of some kind.

Here is a timely one from The Lantern.

A Lantern feature from a couple years ago that was cited by the Chronicle of Higher Education and other places.

Best feature of 2011 according to Associated Collegiate Press.

Friends and rivals on the men’s bball team.

This is a long one about a story from a few years ago with a local angle.


Get to know a person, department, business, etc. on a different level than you and your audience normally would. More time you spend on these, the better they will be. Most are “positive,” but never forget the “to be sure” section, even if only a paragraph. Nothing is perfect. Life is not all sunshine and rainbows.

Here is a powerful one from ESPN and it is about far more than sports.