Remember that the last sentence of a broadcast news item is the second most important part of the story. Only the lead is more important. The final sentence is the wind-up line, the “punch line”. Winding up with the least important fact in a broadcast story would sound like a balloon with the air running slowly out of it. The reporter should use a summary line, a future angle or another important fact or merely repeat the main point to end the story. For example, in a story about a man pleading guilty to two counts of threatening to kill or harm the president of the United States, the newspaper version might end with the maximum penalties that could be assessed. That would be a logical wind-down to the story. The broadcast version, however, could end with another important, related fact, such as, “The arrest came just 10days after another man, John Jones, was charged in connection with an attempted stabbing of the president as he was leaving a hotel in Washington, D.C.”
Approach Television as a Unique Medium
Television journalists should recognize that television is a unique medium –a visual medium that can show action. Therefore, the kind and quality of visual material available for a given story frequently determine the length and position the news producer will allot to it. In fact, stories that might not otherwise be considered news worthy may become so if they present good visual possibilities. It is not unusual for a producer to ask a reporter, “What kind of videotape do we have on the story?” One of the challenges facing the news reporter is to get motion pictures that illustrate the story.
To meet that challenge, television journalists should do two essential things:
- Learn to think visually. To a certain extent, this is the job of the camera crew. But it is also the reporter’s responsibility. News coverage is a team effort. If there is a communication breakdown and the reporter does not let the camera crew know what will be said in the script, the reporter often winds up with a well-written story without the necessary footage to tell it visually.
- When putting stories together for television, make sure that the words match the motion pictures. If they do not, the words will complete with the pictures and nothing will get through to the listeners. The picture is saving one thing, and the words are saying something else. Although the words should match the picture, words should not tell viewers what they can see for themselves. Let the picture tell part of the story, and use the words as a supplement- to explain or reinforce the picture or to tell the audience what the picture does not show. Words compete with the picture when there is too much narration. Use a pause now and then to allow the natural sound and picture to tell the story without narration. Natural sound adds realism to both radio and television stories.