Every week, there are several multimedia journalists and anchors who come in and write stories for our show. Something I did not realize before this semester is that each producer also writes a story that will be on the broadcast. I’m really happy we as producers also write stories since it makes us that much more familiar with the content we are producing. That being said, I do sometimes struggle with getting back to the basics of broadcast writing.
One thing that is important to consider with copy is that it matches the visuals the viewers will see. For instance, if the script is talking about vandalism in Bovard Auditorium, then the video that we see on the screen should be of Bovard. Making sure the copy and the visual elements of a story are consistent seems self-explanatory, but with so many of our stories changing hands throughout the day as people come in for different shifts, it can be challenging to keep it all straight.
One thing that I try to do is have the scripts written as soon as possible so the journalists who come in later in the day can read the scripts and edit videos and graphics accordingly. That way we know exactly what visual elements are required based on the information given in the script. This week, for example, there was a graphic for one of the stories that did not match the script that was written, so I went in and changed the copy in the last few minutes before the show. If the visuals on-screen do not match the words being read, then the audience is likely going to be confused and the story may not be understood. For sound bites, I like to have the clip edited first so we can write into it correctly and not repeat the same information that the person in the sound bite says.
Broadcast copy should be conversational, yet informative – as if you’re explaining a story to your mom or your best friend. Keeping that in mind helps me when it comes to writing my scripts each week. Sticking to the facts is also very important. Sometimes it’s tempting to use puns or fluffy language to keep the scripts conversational, but at the end of the day this is a newscast and the most important thing is that our audience gets accurate and factual information. Copy editing sounds like it would be tiresome, but I actually enjoy keeping the show flowing and accurate from the script to the screen.