W7 Inquiry: Broadcast & print-based media comparative exercise

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Image: Teleprompt (2016) Source: Speakeasy Teleprompt

Week seven has a strong focus on writing for speech. Who would have thought it be so different to print media? Whitaker, Ramsey and Smith’s (2012) suggestion to stop and listen to a newsreader certainly highlighted that sentences are shorter, language is simpler and there is a slight inclination towards a more conversational tone when compared to print-based news stories.

 After reading Whitaker, Ramsey and Smith’s(2012)  Chapter 11 Preparing Broadcasting Copy, I made the following summary.

When writing for broadcast, copy must be condensed with no redundancy and wasted words due to limited minutes available to read the story. Similarly to print-based media where journalists are allocated a specific amount of space in a column, journalists working on broadcast are allocated a certain amount of time.

Broadcast writing needs to read well in order for the announcer to deliver the story with ease. Rhythm and cadence need to be incorporated and any words the newsreader may had difficulty with should be avoided. Assist the newsreader with correct pronunciation through the use of pronouncers. Common contractions and abbreviations may also be used as long as the newsreader is also aware of their meaning.

Sentences need to be structured short with approximately 10 syllables each. It is imperative there is only one idea per sentence and each sentence brings energy. However, sentences do need to vary in length to continue bringing interest to the audience.

The lead remains just as important to a broadcast piece as it is in a print-based piece. That is, use of the inverted pyramid will assist with effective delivery of the messages. An active voice is also encouraged in broadcast media similarly to print-based. Ensuring the use of numbers and statistics are relatable to enhance audience understanding too remains consistent across both media types.

The key differences between broadcast and print-based media are:

  • Shorter sentences with sentence structure that has rhythm and cadence.
  • Pronouncers that the audience at home will not see can be utilised to assist the newsreader.
  • The use of long quotes is not recommended in broadcast media.



Speakeasy teleprompt 2016, Teleprompt, Digital Image, Homepage, viewed 1 September, http://www.teleprompt.com.au/faq.html

Whitaker, Ramsey and Smith, 2012, Media writing: print, broadcast and public relations, Routledge, New York.


Author: Hil Sinfield

Business and professional communication specialist.

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