When it comes to our nightly newscast, it is not only about the stories we cover, but how we choose to tell them. On top of the video and sound we gather, the writing, or the copy, is the most important element. Our stories need to be factual, understandable, and engaging to our audience. The writing of a show can make or break it.
There are a few ways that I try to make sure the copy in each of our stories is the best and strongest it can be. First, I always make sure that our multimedia journalists who are assigned to write a script know exactly what angle we are taking on a story, as well as some of the general information that I am looking for. When they are finished, I always try to check in with them and either ask them to work on it a little more if things are missing, or even pair them up with one of our writing coaches if they are having trouble so that not only is the copy strong, but they are also learning from it. Second, the copy in our show needs to flow. A prime example is when we have a voice over, when an anchor is speaking while video is playing, that comes immediately before a sound bite from one of our sources. It is key to make sure that the script leads into the sound bite and that the transition make sense.
Another thing I really try to focus on when putting our show together is making sure the copy has a conversational tone. This isn’t about using slang or putting the word ‘like’ into our scripts, but rather writing in a similar way to how we would speak in everyday life. Some advice I got early on while working in the media center and that I now try to pass on to multimedia journalists is to write as though you’re telling your mother the news. By this, I mean that copy should be simple, informative, and how one would really talk. When I am copy editing, I try to read every script out loud to see how it sounds and maybe find a better way to say something. Building on this, I want to work with our anchors on the stories that they are not writing themselves. Feedback from them either during run throughs or throughout the day on how we can tweak the wording or make it more conversational would make our shows more engaging for our viewers.