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Better Broadcast Writing, Better Broadcast News

Book Description

Better Broadcast Writing, Better Broadcast News teaches students how to write with the conversational simplicity required for radio and TV. This text draws on the Emmy Award-winning author's decades of professional experience in broadcast journalism. In addition to writing, the text also discusses the other elements that make up a good story--producing, reporting, shooting, editing, and ethics. The author's real-world perspective conveys the excitement of a career in journalism.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Table of Contents
  5. Preface
  6. Acknowledgments
  7. Part I • How to Write the Right Words and Sentences
    1. 1 The Right Words, The Right Stuff
      1. What You’ll Learn—words you ought to use, and others you shouldn’t
      2. Short Is Better than Succinct—using the simplest words
      3. Learn These, for a Start—the best words for the idea you want to convey
      4. Translating English into Better English—don’t use insider lingo
      5. Translating Other Tongues into English—don’t use foreign words and phrases
      6. Be Dynamic When You Can—how to keep your audience’s attention
      7. Judgmental Verbs May Be Accurate, But Wrong—let the audience reach its own conclusions
      8. Exercises to Hone Your Word Skills—homework or classwork
    2. 2 The Wrong Way to Write It
      1. What You’ll Learn—write the way you talk
      2. The Terms of the Story—words and phrases for the first time
      3. Don’t Abb.—spell it out
      4. I Can’t Hear You—the case against contractions
      5. Turning Numbers into Words—when to spell out numbers, too
      6. Turning $ into Dollars—the case against symbols
      7. Sounding Smart, Saying It Right—saying it in English
      8. English , Revisited—good grammar and split infinitives
      9. English , Revisited Yet Again—good grammar and dependent clauses
      10. When Time Doesn’t Matter—excluding extraneous information
      11. The Important Thing, About Commas—a new use for the comma
      12. Giving It Some Punch—how to emphasize what should be emphasized
      13. Exercises to Hone Your Writing Skills—homework or classwork
    3. 3 Being Perfectly Clear
      1. What You’ll Learn—telling too little or too much
      2. TMI (Too Much Information)—only tell what needs to be told
      3. If It’s a Question, Answer It—don’t raise questions you don’t answer
      4. Generalizing Is Always Wrong—don’t generalize
      5. Exercises to Hone Those Skills Even Sharper—homework or classwork
    4. 4 The Right Way to Write It
      1. What You’ll Learn—the idiosyncrasies of writing
      2. Leaving Expert Judgment to Others—reporting on medical conditions
      3. Giving Credit Only Where Credit Is Due—writing about terrorists
      4. You Don’t Always Have to Attribute Things—don’t attribute the obvious
      5. Print Journalists Don’t Write the Way They Talk—differences between print and broadcast newswriting
      6. Crowds, Dead or Alive—counting crowds, reporting casualty tolls
      7. Personalizing Complex Economics—helping an audience relate to big numbers
      8. Take My Word for It—quoting people effectively
      9. The Final Potpourri—simple traps, simple solutions
      10. Exercises to Further Hone Your Writing Skills—homework or classwork
    5. 5 Saying It Twice
      1. What You’ll Learn—how to use sound
      2. The Terms of the Story—words and phrases for the first time
      3. Is That a Fact?—don’t use sound bites to say what you can say
      4. Is That Gobbledygook?—choosing and editing sound bites judiciously
      5. You’ve Got Your Bite, Now You Write—leading into a sound bite
      6. Tag, You’re It—following a sound bite
      7. Exercises to Say It Twice—homework or classwork
    6. 6 The Story of the Story
      1. What You’ll Learn—being a story teller
      2. The Terms of the Story—words and phrases for the first time
      3. Is That the Telephone Ringing?—keeping it simple for distracted audiences
      4. Start Strong, End Strong—most important parts of a story
      5. The Sounds of Silence—knowing when not to talk
      6. Exercises to Test Your Judgment—homework or classwork
  8. Part II • But Before You Write…
    1. 7 Organizing Your Facts, Organizing Your Story
      1. What You’ll Learn—organizing yourself to organize your work
      2. The Terms of the Story—words and phrases for the first time
      3. Giving New Meaning to “Running to the Bathroom”—making notes in the worst of conditions
      4. Figuring Out What to Keep, What to Cut—organizing notes and sound bites
      5. What to Note After the Notes—prioritizing notes
      6. Exercises to Hone Your Organizing Skills—homework or classwork
    2. 8 Choosing Your Lead
      1. What You’ll Learn—how to choose your lead
      2. The Terms of the Story—words and phrases for the first time
      3. Burial in My Darkest Hour—about burying the lead
      4. How to Recognize the Lead If It Doesn’t Recognize You—critical elements for a lead
      5. Choosing One Lead From among More Than One—the judgment call
      6. The Exception to Every Rule—when picture or sound help dictate the lead
      7. After You’ve Picked It, You Have to Write It—simplicity, not complexity
      8. Another Exception: Soft as You Go—the soft lead
      9. And on the Second Day—fresh leads for an old story
      10. Exercises to Put Your Lead in the Lead—homework or classwork
    3. 9 Choosing Your Close
      1. What You’ll Learn—how to choose your close
      2. Simplicity—by the end, you should have told the story already
      3. How to Find Your Close—critical elements for a close
      4. What Does the Story Mean?—giving meaning to your close
      5. Where Does the Story Go from Here?—telling the audience what to expect
      6. The Point of the Point—the last thing you might have to do
      7. Exercises to Put an End to All This—homework or classwork
  9. Part III • And After You Write
    1. 10 Proof Positive of Proofreading
      1. What You’ll Learn—proofreading
      2. What You Are Looking For—mechanical flaws, reporting flaws
      3. Finding Mistakes Before They Find You—list of traps
      4. Being Noisy—proofreading aloud
      5. Is It a Bother to Proofread Aloud?—learn to ignore external noise
      6. No Excuse Is a Good Excuse—no reason not to proofread
      7. Whoops, More Reasons to Proofread Aloud—for flow, accuracy, background information, length, etc.
      8. Exercises to Hone Your Proofreading Skills—homework or classwork
    2. 11 The Correct Corrections
      1. What You’ll Learn—how to make script corrections
      2. Bringing Out the Worst—making a bad script better
      3. Just Follow the Roadmap—universally universal pencil corrections
      4. Corrections From the Front of the Class—a system of corrective marks
      5. Exercises to Correct Any Lingering Incorrectness—homework or classwork
  10. Part IV • Finding Out What to Write
    1. 12 News Hunters and News Gatherers
      1. What You’ll Learn—use curiosity and persistence
      2. The Terms of the Story—words and phrases for the first time
      3. Who Reports, Who Writes?—everyone’s decisions help shape stories
      4. From the Melodramatic to the Mundane—atlas, almanac, dictionary, and encyclopedia
      5. Making Sure You’re Wired—check it yourself
      6. Wired Language, Your Language—don’t depend on others
      7. The Final Indispensable Tool—research with computer, Internet
      8. An Even More Indispensable Tool: The Interview—sometimes not for sound bites, just information
      9. Not Every Interview Is a Blockbuster—when someone gives information
      10. The Curiosity Factor—what would someone who cares want to know?
      11. The Importance of Persistence—press for clarification, direct response, honesty
      12. Do Not Try This If It’s Not Your Home—sometimes tread cautiously
      13. A Few Tricks to Try at Home—simple rules to get good sound bites
      14. What They Call “Investigative Journalism”—difference between reporting and investigative reporting
      15. Exercises to Hone Your Newsgathering Skills—homework or classwork
    2. 13 Running in Place
      1. What You’ll Learn—story ideas
      2. The Terms of the Story—words and phrases for the first time
      3. Running Down Tips—modest beginnings can have huge outcomes
      4. For a Common Cause—media hanging together
      5. If You Don’t Like That Reason, How About This One?—care even if you don’t care
      6. Seeing Every Color, Every Hue—note the details, whether you care or not
      7. Questions When They’re Not Allowed—don’t let them tell you not to ask
      8. Exercises to Help You Run in Place—homework or classwork
    3. 14 Letting It All Hang Out
      1. What You’ll Learn—the unique value of pictures and sound
      2. The Terms of the Story—words and phrases for the first time
      3. How a Rose Tells the Story—don’t waste words where pictures tell the story
      4. When There’s No Rose Left Alive—using words to highlight the pictures
      5. Wallpaper, Instead of a Rose—using video, no matter how dull
      6. Fight to Avoid a Fight—avoid conflict of pictures and words
      7. When There’s Better Sound Than Just Words—sound tells the story too
      8. Microphones and Cameras Where They’re Not Allowed—fight to use your critical tools
      9. Exercises to Put the Angels in Your Work—homework or classwork
    4. 15 A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
      1. What You’ll Learn—about shooting and editing
      2. The Terms of the Story—words and phrases for the first time
      3. Zooming to Dizzying Heights—don’t overdo it with the zoom
      4. Zooming Cuts Both Ways—give yourself options for the edit
      5. Panning for Gold—don’t overdo it with the pan, either
      6. The Story’s in the Background—choosing a background for a standup
      7. I Was Framed!—don’t waste space
      8. Cut Away for a Cutaway—more options for the edit
      9. Proving the Reporter Is There—why the reporter comes up on camera
      10. Where You Make It or Break It—mediocre material, marvelous editing
      11. Exercises to Put Pizazz in the Picture—homework or classwork
  11. Part V • It’s All Part of the Show
    1. 16 If the Shoe Fits, Write It
      1. What You’ll Learn—everyone on the same page
      2. The Terms of the Story—words and phrases for the first time
      3. The Shape of Your Script—how the page looks
      4. The Look of Your Script—upper or lower, single or double, clear or not?
      5. Slug Every Script—for everyone to identify it
      6. Exercises to Fit In—homework or classwork
    2. 17 Fitting It All In
      1. What You’ll Learn—putting a whole broadcast together
      2. The Terms of the Story—words and phrases for the first time
      3. Taking the Lead, Closing It Out—starting and ending the show
      4. Filling in the Holes—the middle of the show
      5. Bridging the Gap—transitions between topics
      6. Change Your Pace—keep the audience’s interest
      7. Ending Your Show—neither too early nor too late
      8. Teasing Your Audience—telling the story without telling it
      9. Exercises to Line Up Your Rundown—homework or classwork
    3. 18 Even More Ways for Radio
      1. What You’ll Learn—the best radio newscast
      2. The Voice of Authority—placing your reporter there
      3. Shifting Your Lead—making old stories sound fresh
      4. Let Us Count the Ways—different radio news packages
      5. Who’s Talking—identifying every speaker but one
      6. Exercises to Sound You Out about Sound—homework or classwork
  12. Part VI • Being the Right Kind of Journalist
    1. 19 Holding onto Your Sources
      1. What You’ll Learn—rules for dealing with sources
      2. Hold On—keeping the lid on temporarily
      3. When You’re Told Not to Tell—trading information for anonymity
      4. Making Sure You Know What to Tell and How to Tell It—comparing terms with sources
      5. Exercises to Hold onto Your Sources—homework or classwork
    2. 20 Holding onto Your Ethics
      1. What You’ll Learn—being fair, honest, respectful
      2. What Passes for the Truth—sometimes there are two truths
      3. No Question about Accuracy—don’t guess
      4. Fairness Above All—putting personal opinion aside
      5. Different Rights to Privacy—public versus private citizens
      6. Benefit of the Doubt on Libel—advantage: journalists, but don’t abuse it
      7. Staging for the Stage—if it isn’t happening, don’t cover it
      8. Gifts Worth Too Much—avoiding even the appearance of bribery
      9. Checkbook Journalism—about paying for stories
      10. Covering the Disorder, Not Creating It—walking that fine line
      11. When You Don’t Have to Treat Everyone Equally—news versus entertainment
      12. How Free Is Information?—the public’s rights, the journalist’s rights: the same
      13. Our Ethical Foundations—constitutional and professional codes
      14. Exercises to Reinforce Your Ethics—homework or classwork
    3. 21 Holding onto Your Dream
      1. What You’ll Learn—starting your career in journalism
      2. How to Get There—internships
      3. What to Take to Get There—college courses
      4. Once You’ve Gotten There—go with the flow of the newsroom
      5. And While You’re There—fulfilling careers
      6. Exercises to Fulfill Your Dream—homework or classwork
  13. Index