Use of Spoken Language in the News Bulletins on Radio

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Use of Spoken Language in the News Bulletins on Radio

As the news on the radio moves fast without the facility of recall which is possible, though, in the case of newspapers whatever is broadcast must be clear, precise and to the point. Sentences should be short and direct without sub clauses. Brevity is essential as a minute of broadcast time can take about 100 words, thus giving an editor the choice of about 1000 to 1100 words (in a 10 minute news bulletin) to cover world, national and regional news. There is a great constraint of space in radio, hence broadcast news must be big and important and should be put in crisp and easily understood language. Ceremonial items or didactic speeches distract the attention of the listener who can always switch off or change over to some other programme.

Clarity through the use of simple words
There should be no need for a dictionary while listening to a radio bulletin. It should be in words which are common in everyday speech. For example, “The work has started” and not “the work has commenced”. “The play has ended and not “terminated”.
There is no place for “officialese” in bulletins (officialese is the language used in official press notes). The words chosen should create visual images in the mind. “Roads are under water” or “The telegraph poles have been uprooted” or “The bridges have been washed away” sound better than “The communications have been disrupted”. Words like “hospitalized” or “minimized” have no place in a radio bulletin. Instead say “admitted into the hospital” or “reduced to a minimum”.

Short sentences:
While writing news for the radio, you should not use long sentences. Avoid subordinate clauses; they are rarely used in every day conversation.
The attention of an average radio listener cannot be held for long: so the sentences as well as the paragraphs have to be short. Avoid a sentence, which is longer than 18 to 20 words. Otherwise, most listeners will not be able to follow it. So, the best thing to do is to split the long sentences. You must always put only one idea into one sentence.
The news items to be broadcast on radio also have to be short, generally not more than 90 to 100 words an item. Some items can be even shorter.

Present tense:
Wherever possible, use the present tense. Broadcasts on radio should appear to the listener to be happening at that moment. Instead of saying “The new generator” was switched on yesterday” say “The new generators has been switched on”. Instead of saying “The Prime Minister said today that the country’s economy is booming”, write “The Prime Minister says the country’s economy is booming”.
Editors of radio news do not bother too much about rules of written English. They always opt for the spoken language. Too many figures should not be given in radio news. These only confuse the listeners. Where figures become necessary round them off. Instead of saying, “398, 879, 968” say “About 40crores”.

Explain technical and unfamiliar words. For example, the right of habeas Corpus. This means that the authorities must bring the suspect before the Judge.
Avoid sound clashes such as “the building was built by a local builder”. Instead say “the storehouse was the work of a local builder”.
The arrangement in news writing is the reverse of the literacy style of writing. In the literary pieces, introduction comes first, then the growth of the plot, followed by the conclusion. In news writing, the lead, or the climax, comes first, then other elements of the story in diminishing order of importance.

While drafting an item, read and re-read it to find out what is the news in it. And that is your lead or intro of the story. In radio news, most editors devote quite some time to it. Once you have located the intro, the rest of the item takes shape quickly. Leave optional points towards the end of the story so that if your editors are running out of time, they can delete these without any difficulty.
Use the radio to inform, alert, suggest direct, interest, stimulate and motivate people.

Strong points:

  1. It can stimulate and motivate, and so can persuade.
  2. It has a good place because most of our people are illiterate
  3. You can give timely reminders about some project or practice
  4. You can rouse the interest of those who otherwise would not be interested
  5. You can report farm news

Writing the news: the news for the radio has to suit the ear and not the eye. It has to be short, simple and direct, with familiar words and simple sentences. This has to be done because it is a ‘Voice to ear method’.

Script for the talk

  • Select a topic,
  • A five minute talk is ideal-120 words per minute, 600 words for the talk plus 50-100 words as stand –by,
  • Select only one phase of the talk,
  • Write out the central fact,
  • Write the script
  • Make your script clear and convincing and your arguments logical so that it stimulates and maintains enough interest in the listener, and
  • Summarise clearly what you have said
Last modified: Tuesday, 1 May 2012, 6:24 AM