By George Gerardi
Professor Piacente was a little late to class, so in the meantime, we wrote a press release of a man being glued to a Best-Mart toilet seat and a news story of a man arrested for driving while intoxicated and eating his breathalyzer papers. When Professor Piacente arrived at class, he asked for some of us to type our release and story leads into his computer.
We went over the leads as a class and pointed out their flaws like forgetting to put in when the incident happened in a story release. Everyone had misinterpreted the instructions for writing a release lead as it needed to use words from a speaker rather than recount the incident.
Next, we shared our takeaways from the broadcast chapter in our textbook Writing For The Mass Media. We also took turns reading pg. 234 in the textbook for an extra insight into the chapter.
We then looked at a powerpoint about writing for broadcast. We learned that we have to use present tense in a broadcast story whenever possible, we have to put the attribution before quotes, not after, we have to use an active, not passive voice, and we have to avoid numbers whenever possible. We also learned the key differences between a print story and a broadcast story like broadcasts using present tense and an oval format and print using past tense and the format of an inverted pyramid. A broadcast report must be easily understandable, brief, and full of active verbs. Professor Piacente also gave us a great resource for learning about past and present tense:
After the powerpoint, we watched a YouTube video called Charlie Brooker’s How to Report News that poked fun at the format of a news report by describing its visual process in extensive detail: . This was used to display the “Lighter Side of Broadcast News”.
After the video and a short break, Professor Piacente handed out 2 sheets. One was a blank sheet that was filled out with names of students who had not met with him outside of class yet. The other sheet had 3 stories on them. Professor Piacente told us to write out a broadcast lead for the first story and assigned the last story for HW due by Friday at 5 pm. The homework is to turn the last story about a 30-second tornado in D.C. into a broadcast story. He also discussed the contents of the final exam on May 3rd as it would have a press release and a broadcast story to complete.
After constructing leads based on a story about the real dangers of “colon cleansing”, we typed the leads into the professor’s computer. As the final assessment of the day, we pointed out flaws of the leads as a class and got a clear understanding of how to write a broadcast story lead.