By Aaron Walsdorf
Clarity is critical in broadcast writing. The person reading your report has to know what you mean. This is why it is important to spell out numerals, and write the word “quote,” instead of just putting quotation marks like in print. You want to make it as easy as you can for the anchor to read your report
Unlike print news, broadcast has to be read out loud by a reporter, so it needs to be in conversational style. Broadcast reports are meant to flow, not sound robotic. They are going to be read by a human being, not a robot. Maybe one day, when robots coexist with natural life, we’ll be able to get away with robotic sounding broadcast reports. But for now, broadcast reports are read by people, with emotions, hence broadcast reports should not be robotic.
Also, as Professor Piacente has made sure to emphasize, so I will do the same, remember to write broadcast leads in present tense. I will write that again. Write broadcast leads in present tense. Professor said that he will take 25 points off the final if we write our broadcast leads in past tense. So yeah, write them in present tense!!! Is saying that three times in one paragraph enough emphasis?
I’ll provide an example of present versus past tense, in case anyone is still unclear about the difference between the two. Present: “The robots have taken over! Send help!!” Past: “The robots took over! No one sent help.” In the second example, no one sent help because it was written in past tense. Don’t do that on the final.
I will leave you guys off on a quote our professor has made sure to say multiple times. As Mark Twain said, “I would have written you a shorter letter if I only had the time.”