Take care with the word “today”, it can lead to confusion.
To report that events in other countries have happened “today” will often be wrong, but to say they happened “yesterday”, while technically correct, will make the story sound out of date.
Never use the word “yesterday” in a lead unless it is relevant
If you must use “today” – and sometimes you have to – never put it at the end of the sentence, leaving the listener or viewer in suspense as they wait to find out when something happened.
Simplify titles. “Leading newsagent” is a better option than (and almost as accurate as) “The Executive Director of the Queensland Branch of the Amalgamated Newsagents’ Guild”.
Try to keep your sentences down to about 20 words in print, even shorter in broadcast.
Long sentences confuse the listener and leave the newsreader gasping for breath before reaching the relief of a full stop.
Break long sentences into two sentences if it reads better.
If a point needs explaining, do that in a separate sentence.
Use verbs (“murdering”) rather than nouns (“the murder of”).
“A man has been charged with murdering his wife” is better broadcast style than “A man has been charged with the murder of his wife”.
Avoid making the newsreader’s task more difficult by repeating the same syllables, or consonants.
You newsreader might stumble over “In India” or “The sixth thing” or “British soldiers”.
Be careful not to use the same word too often in a short story.
To mispronounce a name in broadcast is as bad as to misspell it in print.
Types of words which need pronunciation guides are proper nouns, as in places and people’s names, and more unusual words, as in “coup d’etat”.
The first time such a word appears in any broadcast story you must include the pronunciation in brackets, as in “Iraq (pron. I-RAHK, not EYE-RAHK)” and “Brisbane City Council’s David Hinchliffe (pron. HINCH-LIFF)”.
When looking for a pronunciation, first consult the AAP wires for any pronunciation guide and check on-line.
The ABC’s SCOSE guide (SCOSE stands for Standing Committee on Spoken English) is not available to anyone outside the ABC. If you know someone in the ABC then given them a call and ask for help.
Placename pronunciations are also found in Webster’s Geographical Dictionary.
The most important thing is consistency in pronunciation. If a name is pronounced one way in a studio intro, and another in a report, the program loses credibility, and listeners wonder whether they can trust the accuracy of what’s being reported.
Brackets are only ever used in broadcast writing to surround a pronunciation.
Subordinate expressions are seldom used. If you remember to write concisely and in active voice, you should not have any problems (or any floating words surrounded by commas) “They say the prosecution has a strong case …” not “The prosecution, they say, has a strong case …”.
Write amounts the way they are spoken, as in “three hundred thousand dollars …” instead of “$300,000 …” or “$three hundred thousand …”. See Numbers for more information on how to write figures.
Filed under Broadcast, News