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TV news writing

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Canuck Pappy, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. Canuck Pappy

    Canuck Pappy Member

    Has anybody ever written for TV news?
    A spot opened up at the local station and one of my buddies at the station said I should consider it.
    To be honest I know nothing about television news other than watching it. In J-school I didn't take the television news course, but my buddy said they would consider me and interview me because of my experience.
    Any thoughts?
  2. PeteyPirate

    PeteyPirate Guest

    Go fuck yourself, San Diego.
  3. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    Get a broadcast stylebook, read it, and go for it. Writing for broadcast is different. It generally needs to be shorter, livelier and more conversational and attribution usually goes in front. Use a lot of short, declarative sentences and don't shy away from contractions.
  4. On the upside: Show ends at the same time everyday. Not a minute later. Then you're off to the Cubs game. Going by my experience, this would probably involve a lot of producing (identifying and getting video, then cutting with editors), re-writing (newspaper and wire stories into shorter, clause-less sentences for ye anchor people) and scripting (all aforementioned media, timed to the second, gets logged into a master system and script).

    It was a cool experience, replete with a few epic Joan Cusak-esque "Broadcast News" runs to the tape room. Fun and active newsroom environment--characters top to bottom, lot of shouting and cross-pollinating dialogue, and skilled folks who liked their jobs. I did it for a year but it wasn't the speciality I was looking to pursue. Glad for the experience though, all the same.
  5. Brooklyn Bridge

    Brooklyn Bridge Active Member

    Read This guy's book


    and check out his website. He's an old school producer from CBS and ABC and has tons of writing tips for radio and TV news.
  6. The biggest difference between TV/radio and print writing is use of active voice. Plus, as has been mentioned earlier, shorter, declarative sentences. Get to the point, and get there quickly.
  7. Some Guy

    Some Guy Active Member

    Also, learn how to spell "boo-yah" ;)
  8. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    "Something went horribly wrong"
    "Every parent's worst nightmare..."
    "Police are on a manhunt..."
    "residents are on edge"
    "fiery crash"
  9. budcrew08

    budcrew08 Active Member

    "What's in your water that could make you and your family sick? More at 11!" [/news tease]
    Stupid teasers. ::)
  10. Canuck Pappy

    Canuck Pappy Member

    That's gold! Wait, I'm writing it all down. :)

    You know somewhere on televisionnewswriterscom there is a post called Sports Journalists cliches.
  11. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member


    The biggest key is to make everything as short and clear as possible. Seriously, about one thought per sentence. Things that look simple on paper can sound awful when read aloud.


    "The victim, who had recently moved into the neighborhood, had no previous contact with the suspect, according to police."


    "The Victim had recently moved into the neighborhood.

    Police say she had never met the suspect."

    Also, ALWAYS write to the video you have.

    "A Moose Jaw man is accused of exposing himself to an elk.

    ((TAKE VO))
    This is Tim Horton appearing before a judge this morning.
    Police say he admitted to flashing the animal at this truck stop..."

    Lyman made reference to active voice, and active is good, but beware of bullshit active voice, which is standard in a lot of newsrooms (typically Fox, for some reason). "A car, careening out of control.. slamming into pedestrians.. that driver in jail tonight..." Seriously, there are some writers who can get through an entire story without an actual verb. Don't be that guy.

    Go for it. College TV writing classes are almost invariably bullshit anyway. If you have journalism experience you'll probably have a leg up on most other applicants. It can be fairly tough to find a TV writer, in part because most people who are any good at it become producers pretty quickly and don't want to take another writing job.

    Feel free to PM with with any questions.
  12. In Exile

    In Exile Member

    One caution, from someone whose sibling works in TV and whose wife used to work in TV, both at big markets.

    My brother's station has just experiences the same cutbacks going on in print, and the future of local TV news is just as bleak - ratings are way down from what they were 5, 10, 20 years ago, and staffs are shrinking accordingly. The days of TV news writers are just about over. Just as they now use slave cameras in studio so they have no need for cameramen, or tape editors because they have producers edit tape on computers, the trend is to have producers a/o reporters double up and also write, rather than have a separate writing position.
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