Newscasting Script English Example Essays

LESSON 3: WRITING NEWS

This lesson explains how to write news reports for TV, Radio and Online. It introduces the three C's of scripting - being clear, concise and correct.

Jim, from Radio 1's Newsbeat, explains the process involved in writing a good script, the importance of checking facts and researching the subject.

OBJECTIVES
To develop an understanding of writing reports for TV, Radio and Online
To develop an understanding of the 3 C's - writing clearly, concisely and being correct
To develop an understanding of how to structure a news story

OVERVIEW AND RESOURCES

ACTIVITYAPPROXIMATE DURATION
1. Video - Writing news2 mins 30 secs plus discussion time
2. Activity - Writing concisely15 mins
3. Video - Scriptwriting masterclass3 mins 49 secs plus discussion time
4. Activity - Writing for TV, Radio and Online10 mins
5. Quiz - Gathering news10 mins

ACTIVITIES

1 - Video: Writing News - Huw Edwards

BBC newsreader Huw Edwards explains the 3 C's 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 story but leaving the most important fact to the last sentence!

You can recap the key points from the video with this accompanying worksheet, or read a transcript of the video:

Key points: Writing news [27.13] Transcript: Writing news  [22.90]

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2 - Activity: Writing Concisely

Look at this information about a new study into children and their use of mobile phones. Pick out what you think are the most important points and then write a short script (of no more than five sentences) explaining what the story is about.

TEACHER NOTE

  • You can pick a story of your choice for this activity if you'd prefer. Check out the BBC News and Newsbeat websites for ideas.

Remember to cover the 5 W's:

  • What's happening?
  • Who is involved?
  • Where is this happening?
  • When is it happening?
  • Why is it happening?

And be:

  • Clear - use simple language
  • Concise - keep sentences short
  • Correct - check your facts, grammar and punctuation

When you've done that write a headline - just one short sentence explaining what the story is about.

Extension exercise: Depending on your school's social media policy and the age of your students, you may ask them to write a tweet or a Facebook post explaining the story.

Example answer: Writing concisely [22.90]

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3 - Video: Scriptwriting Masterclass

Jim from Radio 1's Newsbeat explains the process involved in writing a good script for TV, Radio and Online.

He explains the importance of checking facts, researching the subject, doing vox pops and writing the cue as well adding extras including graphics and sound effects.

Key points: Scriptwriting masterclass [27.13]Transcript: Scriptwriting masterclass [22.90]

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4 - Activity: Writing for TV, Radio and Online

Give your students the same piece of text as in the Writing Concisely section, the mobile phone study, or a story of your choice and ask students to choose between writing a piece for TV, one for radio and one for online.

Remind students to think about how their scripts might be different, depending on the platform they are using.

  • TV - Students will need to think about the pictures - what shots would illustrate their reports? They don't need to write about what they see as people can see it? Willl students include a piece-to-camera?
  • Radio - Think about using many more describing words so students can paint a picture for the people who are listening. What sounds would help their audience understand what is going on - eg: a ringing phone.
  • Online - Get most of the crucial information in the top four paragraphs. What pictures would they use to illustrate the report?

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EXTENSION Activity: Storyboarding

TEACHER NOTE

  • You can pick a story of your choice for this activity if you'd prefer. Check out the BBC News and Newsbeat websites for ideas.

You're now going to make a TV report about the new study into whether mobile phones are harmful to children.

These are all the bits you have - put them in order of where they will go in your report.

  • A piece to camera done by the reporter at Imperial College London explaining the study
  • An interview with one of the researchers
  • An interview with some children who will be taking part in the study
  • Pictures of children using mobile phones
  • An interview with someone from the World Health Organisation
  • Pictures of Imperial College London and the research team
  • Pictures of mobile phone shops and people using them on the streets
  • Some script by the reporter explaining why this is really important
  • The reporter saying 'this is John Smith, reporting for BBC News School Report'

Is there anything else you would like to include in your report? If so, make a list.

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5 - Quiz: Writing News

This multiple-choice quiz is designed to test your knowledge of how to write scripts and stories.

Quiz: Writing news [23.79]

You can find the answers here.

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For reference, teachers may like to look at previous years' lesson plans including 2012-14, 2009-11 and 2006-8.

This lesson has been approved by the BBC College of Journalism.

If you need are writing a news report, you need to concentrate on the four important parets of a new story - the news, context, impact and emotion. The way you combine these four elements will determine the success of your news story.

 

Balancing Facts and Style

Readers need to know the facts and who or what may be affected by them. Related stories and background information make up the context and the emotional parts of the story show the human side of it.

Following are tips on writing a compelling and gripping news report.

  • Facts: The facts will answer the: who, what, when, where, why, and how of the news event. A writer has a responsibility to make sure his facts are accurate. If you have to write a report before you get all the facts, then say that in the report.
  • Style: When writing a news report, use the active voice. The active voice is more understandable and has more impact. Make short, concise sentences with action verbs. Your language needs to be simple and not have extra words that don’t really contribute to the focus of the story. For example, the weather or how someone is dressed doesn’t need to be included unless it has a bearing on the overall story. While you are writing, try to anticipate any questions a reader might have while reading your story.

Writing a Good Lead

The lead is the first few sentences of the story. It needs to be strong so it will grab the readers and make them want to read more.

  • If it is a hard news story, which is the breaking news or up-to-the-minute news, then you include as many facts as you can in the summary of the story.
  • If it is a soft news story, which is a human interest story or background information, then you put the facts in the body of the story. 

Leads need to tell the reader what the story is about and why it is important. The lead tells the reader why he should read the story. It needs to sound like you are having a conversation; that you are telling a friend about the latest news.  

Some errors that are found in leads include the lead having more than one main idea. When this happens, the reader is unclear as to what the story is about.

  • Some leads are lifeless, and need some tension or something that pushes the reader to read on, like dangling a carrot in front of a hungry rabbit.
  • Leads are sometimes dull and predictable. It’s good to make the reader smile or be surprised sometimes.

Lastly, leads can exclude certain readers if they are full of jargon.  Make sure the news report is suitable for everyone to read.     

Tips for Better Writing

Here are a few additional tips for writing that apply to writing in general:

  • Words should not be too long or complicated. A news story is not the place to try and impress people with your intelligence or your command of the English language. Pick your words carefully so they are concise and you will use fewer words overall.
  • Make sure your sentences are under 25 words and contain only one idea.
  • Use a simple subject verb object form.
  • Don’t use too many commas.
  • Paragraphs need to say something new and, like sentences, be short and to the point.
  • Never put more than three prepositional phrases into one sentence.
  • Never put more than three numbers in one sentence.

These will help your writing be clearer and easier to understand.

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Tips on Writing a News Report

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If you need are writing a news report, you need to concentrate on the four important parets of a new story - the news, context, impact and emotion. The way you combine these four elements will determine the success of your news story. 

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