Writing TV and radio news (2023)

Ricky Telger and Lisa Lundy

This publication on writing news for television and radio is the fourth in a five-part series on writing for news media. The series also includes news media writing, print news writing, grammar and punctuation, and interviewing for news reports.

(Video) Subject: Writing for TV & Radio/ Topic: Writing Techniques & Styles for Broadcasting


Making a TV or radio story involves more than just "recording" it with a video camera or tape recorder. You must first learn how to write effective TV and radio news. the termradio writing is used interchangeablyWriting TV and radio newsin this publication.

Writing for eyes and ears

Writing for radio and television differs from writing for the print media for several reasons. First, you have less space and time to view news information. Therefore, you must carefully prioritize and summarize information. Second, your listeners can't reread sentences they didn't understand the first time; they need to understand the message when they hear or see the radio broadcast. Therefore, you must keep your texts simple and clear. Third, write for the "ear." When reporting in print media, write for "the eyes"; the story must be read for your eyes. A television or radio news story has the added complexity of having to sound good; when the listener hears the story, it must be easy for the "ears" to read. Also, when you're covering broadcast news, listeners can't see video of what you're saying. Therefore, you need to draw a word picture with the words you use in your reporting so that people can "see" the picture through your description. In today's media environment, many stories are shared in video, audio, and text-based formats. It's important to consider the different ways your audience will receive the information you share.

(Video) How to Write Radio News Scripts

As with any type of journalistic writing, you should try to identify the characteristics of your audience to understand what type of information your audience wants. Using the newsworthiness criteria suggested inWriting in news media This series of publications will help you determine if your TV or radio news story idea is relevant. TV and radio news must have the following characteristics:

  • The writing style should be conversational.Write down how you speak.
  • Each sentence should be short and contain only one thought.We don't always talk in long sentences. When writing radio news, the shorter the sentences, the better. Each sentence should focus on a specific idea.
  • simple and direct. If you give your audience too much information, your audience won't understand it. Choose words that are familiar to everyone.
  • Read the story aloud.The most important quality of writing for the "ear" is reading the story aloud. This will give you a feel for timing, transitions, information flow and conversational style. Your audience will hear your TV or radio news story, so the story needs to appeal to their ears.

Writing structure for TV and radio news

  • Concise.A good newspaper story can be anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand words. The same story on TV or radio could last 30 seconds - probably no more than 100 words. If it's an important story, maybe 90 seconds or two minutes. When writing programs, you have to summarize a lot of information on the most important points.
  • Use the correct syntax.A script for a television show with grammatical errors can embarrass someone reading it aloud when that person stumbles upon the error.
  • Important information first. Writing a radio news story is similar to writing a print news story in that you must first provide important information. The only difference is that you need to compress the information provided.
  • write notes.Begin the story with a clear, concise message. Because radio features have to fit in 30, 60, or 90 seconds, radio features are sometimes no more than newspaper headlines and headlines.
  • Stick to short sentences of no more than 20 words.The announcer needed to catch his breath. Long sentences make it difficult for the speaker to catch his breath.
  • Write down how people speak.Sentence fragments are permitted, provided they make sense.
  • use abbreviations.use NOsubstitutedo not want.but watch out for contractions to-already(For example.,could have), because they sound like "would of" and "could of".
  • Use a simple subject-predicate-object structure.
  • Use active form and active verbs.It's better to say "he hit the ball" than "the ball was hit by him".
  • Use present tense verbs unless past tense verbs are required.The present expresses immediacy. Use the past tense when something happened a long time ago. For example, instead of saying, “This morning there was a train derailment that took forty people to the hospital.” Instead, say, “This morning there was a train accident that took forty people to the hospital.”
  • For broadcast news reportsWrite with visual images. Let your audience "see" what you're saying. Help them imagine the situation you are describing. Some broadcast news scripts even suggest ambient sounds to ease the listener's mood.

TV and radio news writing skills

  • In the first citation, use a person's full name (first and last name) followed by the person's last name.
  • Use pinyin for unfamiliar words and words that are difficult to pronounce.
  • Leave out unfamiliar names and places if they don't make sense to the story.
  • Titles come before names; therefore avoid appositions.Don't write, "Tom Smith, the Mayor of Smallville, said today that..." Instead, write, "Tom Smith, the Mayor of Smallville, said today that..." (Other example: "Councilman Richard Smith" instead of "Richard Smith, Alderman." "Beth Baker, Annievale High School student," not "Beth Baker, Annievale High School student."
  • When specifying an age, precede the name with the age. (e.g.: "Victim, 21-year-old Rob Roy...")
  • If possible, avoid direct quotes in message scripts. Instead, let people express themselves in their own words during the speech. AAudio clipare the exact words someone says in their own recorded voice. If you must use a direct quote, end it with a sentence like "In the words of..." or "As he put it..." or try to paraphrase as much as possible. Avoid saying "quote" and "decite" to start or end a direct quote.
  • The byline should come before the citation, not after it.In contrast to writing for print media, the source of quoted quotations in a radio story should be given at the beginning of the sentence and before the paraphrase. The listener should know where the quote is coming from before hearing it. Example: "Bill Brown says he's running for re-election."
  • Avoid most abbreviations, even for duplicate references, unless the abbreviation is a well-known one.This differs from the AP style rules for print stories. Write down the day, month, state, and rank of each time. The only acceptable abbreviations are "Mr.", "Ms.", and "Dr." with hyphens between common abbreviations. For example, write "US" (United States) as "U-S" and "UN" (United Nations) as "U-N".
  • When writing, avoid symbols.For example, the dollar sign ($) should never be used in radio broadcast writing. Always spell the word "dollar". This differs from the "dollar" style used by the Associated Press in its print news. This helps make the story more readable for the person providing the information.
  • Use the correct punctuation.Don't use semicolons. For pauses longer than a comma, use double hyphens. Use underscores for emphasis.
  • Use numbers correctly. Spell the numbers 11 through 11. (This is a different style from the AP print story, which spells 1 through 9 and then uses numbers starting at 10.) Use numbers for 12 through 999. For the numbers, use and Words above the hyphen combination 999. (Example: 33,000; 214 million.) Round up unless the exact number is important. (Example: Use "a little over $34 million" instead of "34 million, $200,000, $22.") Use st, nd, th, and rd after dates, addresses, and numbers over eleven to represent them as to read ordinary numbers. (Example: "Second Street", "May 14th", "Eleventh Avenue", "12th Division" - this differs from the printed AP style.)

Format for television and radio news reports

  • Broadcast messages are typed, double-spaced, and case-sensitive.Many years ago television news scripts were written in all caps, but the practice has changed in recent years.
  • Make the sentences at the bottom of the page into complete sentences.Don't split sentences between pages.
  • Never hyphenate words or separate phrases from one line to the next.
  • Do not use editing symbols.Cross out the entire word and write the corrected word above it. This is one of the reasons that broadcast news scripts are double-spaced: so you have room for corrections between the lines.

Tell TV and radio news

When narrating (aka "voicing") TV and radio news scripts, follow these tips:

(Video) Radio News Writing

  • Place the microphone correctly.Place the microphone 6 to 10 inches from your mouth and at a 45 degree angle to the speaking line. This will help prevent "blasting" with explosive letters like "P" and "B". Always keep the same distance from the microphone when speaking.
  • Eliminate noise distractions.Bring any paperclips, pens, and other items you want to play with while reading the story. Any rustle of a paper clip or click of a pen can be picked up by the microphone.
  • tell a news story.After pressing the "Record" button on your video camera or recorder, wait about 10 seconds before speaking. This prevents you from accidentally missing a comment when you click record and start narrating the script right away. It's a good idea to start with standard references like date, location, and subject name. You might want to use a countdown: "The story of the bee, three, two, one" and start telling the story. This will also help you stabilize the sound early on. Default reference beginnings and countdowns are clipped from the final story.
  • correct pronunciation.say clearly. Don't keep your words together. proper practicetogether, different pronunciations of words. The following words are often mispronounced: "prob-ly" for "prob-ab-ly", "git" for "get", "jist" for "just". Also, don't omit the final "g" in "-ing" words, e.g. B.cooking, running,Andhunt.
  • Think about this idea.Think about what you're going to say. When you have a positive thought about something, put a smile on your face and a smile in your voice. This helps bring out the personality of the story.
  • think about it. As you read the first part, pay attention to the end of the sentence. Think about how the sentence will end before you start. This will help you explain the meaning of the whole thought sentence.
  • Speak at a natural pace.but change the speed occasionally to avoid it sounding monotonous. How fast you speak is how fast you speakspeed.Vary the pitch and volume of your voice for variety, focus, and attention.AsphaltIt's the high and low tones of your voice. Lowering the pitch and transposing down will make you sound more confident. However, don't give up pitch if it sounds unnatural.
  • breathe properly. Control your breathing, breathing in between thought units. Otherwise your voice will be muted. Sit up straight or stand as you speak. This will help your breathing.
  • use your body. A relaxed body contributes to a relaxing sound. Practice before you start broadcasting. A little movement can relieve tension.
  • Listen to the final product.Listen to its sound. Listen to what you have to say like an audience.
  • contemporary history.Finally, make sure you time the story. When the story is broadcast on radio or television, the timing of the story is important and in many cases must be accurate. Practice writing and telling messages to find your normal reading time.
  • Practice your storytelling skills. Never give up practicing your speaking and presentation skills. Practice by reading aloud at least twice a week.

Further information

Associated Press. (2022).AP Style Manual and media briefingLaw(Issue 55). New York: Associated Press.

Burnett, C. & Tucker, T. (2001)。 Writing for Farmers: A New Approach Using Proven Ideas (Version 2). Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunter.

(Video) Writing and Delivering Local News Report for Campus Radio Broadcasting

Oliu, W. E., Brusaw, C. T. und Alred, G. J. (2007)。Effective Writing: Effective communication at work (9 Hrsg.). Boston: Bedford/St. Martins.

Telg, R. & Irani, T.A. (2012)。Agricultural Communication in Action: A Practical Approach.Clifton Park, NY: Delmar.

(Video) Radio and TV Journalism


How do you write for radio and television? ›

Television and Radio News Writing Structure
  1. Be brief. ...
  2. Use correct grammar. ...
  3. Put the important information first. ...
  4. Write good leads. ...
  5. Stick to short sentences of 20 words or less. ...
  6. Write the way people talk. ...
  7. Use contractions. ...
  8. Use simple subject-verb-object sentence structures.

What is the difference between radio writing and TV writing? ›

Writing and Editing

Unlike the radio or podcast format, where the responsibility to visualize the story lies in the audience's imagination, multimedia journalists and reporters on television deliver a “voice-over” serving as an accompaniment to videos or images — basically acting as a caption to what is seen.

What is the writing style for television news? ›

News style, journalistic style, or news-writing style is the prose style used for news reporting in media such as newspapers, radio and television.

What is radio and TV script writing? ›

Broadcast script writing means writing for radio and television. It can also be explained as. writing for ears and eyes. It is different from print media.

What should be avoided while writing for radio? ›

Radio is personal - you're talking to one person at a time. That's why your writing has to sound like it is “talked”, not read. Lectures don't work on radio. Your script can't be just “read”.

How do I get started in TV writing? ›

How to become a television writer
  1. Take classes and read books. ...
  2. Watch your favorite television show for educational purposes. ...
  3. Apply for an assistant position. ...
  4. Keep networking. ...
  5. Write spec and pilot scripts. ...
  6. Proof, edit and refine. ...
  7. Write a query letter and shop your script. ...
  8. Find an agent.
Jun 24, 2022

What are TV writers called? ›

Screenwriters may have their screenplays overseen by script editors, who, in turn, may be supported by assistant script editors. In TV drama, screenwriters might work with story producers and storyliners as well as script editors.

What major is TV writing? ›

The education needed to be a television writer is normally a bachelor's degree. Television writers usually study theatre, journalism or writing. 74% of television writers hold a bachelor's degree and 17% hold a master's degree.

What is writing on TV called? ›

Screenwriting or scriptwriting is the art and craft of writing scripts for mass media such as feature films, television productions or video games.

What are the 4 types of news writing? ›

News stories in method are (1) narrative, (2) descriptive, (3) expository, or (4) any combination of these three forms of discourse. These forms are often to be found combined in a single story.

What is the most common format of news writing style? ›

The inverted pyramid structure is the most commonly used structure for news writing. The inverted pyramid presents the most important information in a news story first, followed in descending order by less-important information.

What style of writing do journalists use? ›

Journalistic writing is most often written in a format called the Inverted Pyramid, which arranges the information in descending order of importance, or newsworthiness. The most important information should come first, such as the Who, What, When, Where, and How. The important details of the story should follow.

What are the 4 basic elements of a radio script? ›

Effective radio ad scripts often follow the same format but manipulate the core elements like the hook, pitch, offer, and call-to-action in different ways to make the messaging and presentation unique and memorable.

What are the three types of radio script? ›

Types of radio scripts
  • a. Rundown script, fact sheet, or timeline. ...
  • b. Semi-scripts. ...
  • c. Full scripts. ...
  • d. Music radio scripts. ...
  • e. Spoken word/talk radio scripts. ...
  • Know your listeners in-and-out. The first question to ask is: "Who I'm I talking to?" ...
  • If you feel overwhelmed, prepare an outline. ...
  • Sound natural and conversational.
Aug 14, 2020

What makes a good radio script? ›

Keep it Clear and Concise

Make sure your grammar is correct and be as concise and clear as possible, it will allow you or your presenter to improvise and expand on what is written in the script. Radio is at its best when it doesn't sound rigid, whether fully scripted or not.

What words you can't say on radio? ›

Federal law prohibits obscene, indecent and profane content from being broadcast on the radio or TV.

What are the essentials of writing for radio? ›

To make that work for journalistic non-fiction in radio, one needs to follow certain rules.
  • Use each actuality to make a single point. ...
  • Don't double back on a story. ...
  • Raise a question in the listener's mind. ...
  • Don't “step” on your acts. ...
  • Let the interviewee continue the thought you began. ...
  • Signposts are critical.
Mar 20, 2015

What are the most common mistakes when using a radio? ›

Here are the 11 common two-way radio mistakes you should avoid,
  • Interrupting.
  • Not talking clearly.
  • Speaking too quiet.
  • Releasing the button too quickly.
  • Not on the right channel.
  • Not caring for your radio properly.
  • Not finding the right radio for your team.
  • Not having a licensed radio.
Sep 7, 2022

How much do TV writers get paid? ›

How much does a Tv Writer make? As of May 28, 2023, the average annual pay for a Tv Writer in the United States is $62,837 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $30.21 an hour. This is the equivalent of $1,208/week or $5,236/month.

How much do Netflix writers get paid? ›

The median guaranteed total pay for a screenplay deal was $325,000, with a maximum of $5 million with Netflix. This is higher than the first draft median for traditional studios of $293,750 for a one-step deal or $262,500 for multiple guaranteed steps.

How old is the average TV writer? ›

Television Writer Age
Television Writer YearsPercentages
40+ years52%
30-40 years30%
20-30 years18%
Sep 9, 2022

What degree is best for TV writers? ›

A bachelors degree is typically needed for a full-time job as a writer. Because writing skills are essential in this occupation, many employers prefer candidates with a degree in English, journalism, or communications. Writers and authors typically need to gain writing experience through on-the-job training.

Where do TV writers get their ideas? ›

Screenwriters come up with ideas from daily writing exercises, often taking inspiration from various sources, such as current events, headlines, and writing prompts. It also helps to reflect on emotions or draw from personal experiences to create relatable material that audiences easily understand.

How hard is it to be a TV writer? ›

Unfortunately, TV writing is crazy competitive and the success rate is rather low. Most aspiring TV writers spend their first ten years as assistants, just trying to break in. Also, there's no singular path to becoming a TV writer, which is why this career requires a ton of patience.

Can you be a TV writer without a degree? ›

A degree isn't required to be a screenplay writer, but it may help you develop your skills. Several colleges, universities and film schools offer bachelor's degree programs in writing for screen and television or film studies and screenwriting.

How many hours do TV writers work? ›

Each writers' room will have its own process. Some try to keep a 9-5 schedule (which usually means 9-8 or so) for the benefit of all so they can get home to their families. Others expect the writers to stay late, even if that means working 12-hour days and beyond.

Do TV writers work year round? ›

TV Writing is a 24/7 Job

And this goes on and on for upwards of nine months or more per year. Many shows require fourteen hour days or more, almost seven days a week.

What do TV writers study? ›

To become a TV writer, you typically need a background in screenwriting, such as a bachelor's degree in film production or creative writing or a master's degree in fine arts in screenwriting.

What is TV journalism? ›

Broadcast journalism is the field of news and journals which are broadcast by electronic methods instead of the older methods, such as printed newspapers and posters. It works on radio (via air, cable, and Internet), television (via air, cable, and Internet) and the World Wide Web.

What is TV in journalism? ›

Television (TV) is a telecommunication medium for transmitting moving images and sound. The term can refer to a television set, or the medium of television transmission. Television is a mass medium for advertising, entertainment, news, and sports.

What are the 3 C's of news writing? ›

BBC newsreader, Huw Edwards, explains the three Cs of news writing: being clear, concise and correct. Writing scripts and news stories also means understanding that you need to get straight to the point; there's no point in having an amazing news stroy but leaving the most important fact to the last sentence.

What type of journalist makes the most money? ›

High Paying Journalist Jobs
  • Financial Writer. Salary range: $49,000-$126,000 per year. ...
  • Magazine Writer. Salary range: $40,000-$124,500 per year. ...
  • Travel Journalist. Salary range: $39,500-$120,500 per year. ...
  • Political Reporter. ...
  • Newspaper Reporter. ...
  • Multimedia Journalist. ...
  • General Assignment Reporter. ...
  • Feature Reporter.

What are the three basics of news writing? ›

The ABCs of news writing are Accuracy, Brevity and Clarity.

What are the basics of news writing? ›

Newswriting Guidelines
  • Organization (the Inverted Pyramid) People have a tendency to tell stories chronologically. ...
  • Lead. The start of a news story should present the most compelling information. ...
  • Fact (Not Opinion) and Attribution. ...
  • Identification. ...
  • Short Paragraphs. ...
  • Person. ...
  • Headlines.

What are the elements of news writing? ›

What creates a newsworthy story?
  • Impact. Arguably the most important element of newsworthiness is whether or not the news item being communicated impacts a news outlet's audience. ...
  • Proximity. Proximity is important. ...
  • Timeliness. News consumers expect timely information. ...
  • Prominence. ...
  • Conflict. ...
  • Human Interest. ...
  • Novelty/Oddity.

What are 5 examples of journalistic? ›

In addition to newspapers, magazines, television, blogs, emails, social media, and radio are all different types of journalism.

What makes a good reporter? ›

Your ability to research to find out the important details of a story is quite helpful. A journalist relies on facts and evidence, not on emotions while working on a story. An ideal journalist should be observant and possess strong analytical skills to assess a situation if there is something more to it.

What are media writing skills? ›

What is media writing? Media writing is the process of writing content for mass publication through particular media outlets. This may include newspapers, magazines, popular websites, blogs, social media and other publications.

What are the different formats of TV news? ›

We use four formats for reporting and storytelling in television journalism: the live-shot or live report, VO or voice over, the VOSOT or voice over to SOT (sound on tape-the portion of the interview you use) and the “package” or full TV news report assembled as one piece.

Should TV and radio programs be italicized? ›

Titles of movies, television, and radio shows are italicized. A single episode is enclosed in quotation marks. Formal names of broadcast channels and networks are capitalized: The Discovery Channel offers a variety of programs from health to the environment.

What is the format of writing for radio? ›

one page of dialogue is approximately one minute of air time. each scene should be numbered. lines are usually double spaced. sound and music cues are triple spaced.

How do you write for radio? ›

06. Writing for the radio
  1. Begin with the freshest news. Your audience is tuning into the broadcast to know what's happening. ...
  2. Hook your audience. ...
  3. Use the present tense. ...
  4. Write short sentences. ...
  5. Be precise. ...
  6. Stick to the facts, avoid commenting. ...
  7. Speak before you write. ...
  8. Speak to your audience.

What is writing for television? ›

What Is Television Writing? Television writing is the art of writing a TV show. Television writers develop stories, write scripts, make edits and revisions, and help determine what an episode looks like. In the TV world, writers are able to influence everything from the stories that are told to how the sets are built.

Should news programs be italicized? ›

No, you should not italicize the names of television channels or radio stations.

Should TV show titles be in quotes? ›

How to properly write titles using italics and quotation marks are questions a lot of us have. Italics are used for large works, names of vehicles, and movie and television show titles. Quotation marks are reserved for sections of works, like the titles of chapters, magazine articles, poems, and short stories.

Do you italicize news stations? ›

If you're mentioning* a news outlet in-sentence (narratively), publication names get italics, but corporate entities (as author or publisher) will not: A New York Times special report suggests that there's a shortage of italics.

What is the format of a radio announcement? ›

A 30-second radio ad generally includes three main parts: a hook, a pitch (or value proposition), and a call to action. The hook is your chance to catch a listener's attention. It's where you ask a question or say something interesting that makes listeners want to turn up the volume rather than put your ad on mute.

What should be avoided in a broadcast news presentation? ›

Avoid most multiple-syllable words, words that are tough to pronounce and long, convoluted sentences.

What are the four different types of radio formats? ›

The most popular formats and subformats cover a wide range of demographics, revealing radio's wide appeal.
  • Country. ...
  • News/Talk/Information. ...
  • Adult Contemporary. ...
  • Pop Contemporary Hit Radio. ...
  • Classic Rock. ...
  • Urban Contemporary. ...
  • Mexican Regional. ...
  • Other Popular Formats.

How do you write a radio news package? ›

A radio package is a pre-recorded report which features interviews and sound effects. Like any news report, it should cover the most important elements of a story. A well-written package will grab the listener's attention and tell the story in an entertaining and creative way.

What is a TV writer called? ›

Screenwriters write and develop screenplays for film or TV drama. They do this either based on an original idea, by adapting an existing story into a screenplay or by joining an existing project (TV).

What do you call someone who writes for TV? ›

Screenwriters are scriptwriters who write scripts formatted for use in film and TV, and theater and their scripts are generally referred to as 'screenplays.

Do TV writers need a degree? ›

To become a TV writer, you typically need a background in screenwriting, such as a bachelor's degree in film production or creative writing or a master's degree in fine arts in screenwriting.


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