Air Words: Writing for Broadcast Media

Paperback | September 22, 2011

byJohn Hewitt

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Praised by both students and journalists for its no-nonsense instructional approach, accessible writing style, and extensive supply of practical exercises, Air Words is a comprehensive newswriting text that is designed to help students learn the fundamental sentence structure and grammarrequired to write for broadcast news. It is carefully designed to guide students through a progression of news situations, from a simple lead story to a complex remote video field report. The fourth edition brings the book up to date with numerous changes that have occurred in the last decade ofbroadcast journalism.

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Praised by both students and journalists for its no-nonsense instructional approach, accessible writing style, and extensive supply of practical exercises, Air Words is a comprehensive newswriting text that is designed to help students learn the fundamental sentence structure and grammarrequired to write for broadcast news. It is caref...

John Hewitt is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts at San Francisco State University and the author of Documentary Filmmaking (OUP).

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 11 × 8.5 × 0.68 inPublished:September 22, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199760039

ISBN - 13:9780199760039

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Table of Contents

1. Understand What Your Audience NeedsWho is watching, listening, logging on?What audience research tells usTraditional news valuesSpoken news strengthsOn-line strengthsDifferent approaches to newsFlow and rhythm of spoken newsThe Enterprise JournalistResearch made easierOn-line Research2. Making Major ChangesWriting for ears versus writing for the eyesStart with short sentencesEliminate long introductory phrasesShort introsMisplaced phrasesNested phrasesElliptical sentencesPunctuationWhat to excludeRounding off and writing out numbersReading copy3. Grammar and Word ChoiceConcise words and phrasesWordy verbsNegative verbsAdjectivesSensational language/loaded wordsBuzzwords and jargonUnnecessary wordsRepetitionPhrasesAttributionActive and passive voiceChanging the voiceVerb formsReference problems4. Writing the Lead SentenceImportance of the lead sentenceOne night's leadsAvoiding hypeCategories of leadsImpactNew story/breaking newsReactionFolo, second-day, updatePerspectiveException and ironySegueFeatureLeads to AvoidJammedClicheRhetorical questionsUn-attributed quotes5. Completing the Story EssentialsEssential itemsScopeControversy and cause and effectThe why or whatFuturePayoffs6. Gathering Useful SoundbitesActualities and soundbitesPlanning interviews to get resultsSelecting intervieweesTesting intervieweesAsking the right questionsPulling bitesHow shortTrimming bitesEthical considerations7. Using SoundbitesAdding soundbites changes the designPlacement within storiesWriteupsRules for writeupsIdentificationShort complete sentenceNo repetitionAvoid throwawaysTagsWriting the story with a soundbite8. Building Packages with Soundbites and TracksComposing packagesRecognizing different approachesLead-insClassic modelsAltered chronologyParticular-to-general modelWriting tracksFirst trackMiddle tracksLast tracks9. Writing to Still VisualsVisuals as toolsRules for writing to visualsPartial screen graphicsOver-the-shoulder topic boxesFull screen CGsLength of visual on screenFull screen graphicsCGs to display factsScript notationsThe reveal10. The Video SequenceVideo sequencesImportant sequence considerationsEstablishing shotsContinuityAlternate types of shotsVary shot lengthUse reaction shotsAvoid lifeless shotsLook for depth in shotsNever use the same shotSensationalism dangers11. Writing Text for the VOThe VO's various formsSteps to the VO storyTwin streams conceptRules for writing the VO textCommon problems with the VO story12. Writing the VO/Sound StoryVO/SOUND is complexProduction difficultiesWriteups and visual coverA second VO or tagSteps to the VO/Sound story13. Breaking News Packages and FeaturesThe news packageBreaking news versus featuresSteps to building a packageWhat to do at the locationStandupsReviewing field videoTracksRules for tracksWriting tracks with the lead-in in mindLaying out the story14. Live Shots and RemotesLive remotes are popularPressure and live shotsProduction and ethical dilemmasLive shot production possibilitiesRules for live shot design15. Producers Develop StoriesGatekeepingProducer's jobNews of the dayDeveloping storiesChecking feedsAssigning storiesReviewing scripts for fairness16. Producing Effective NewscastsGeneral considerations for newscastsNon-commercial versus commercialFirst third of newscastMiddle of newscastFinal third of newscastClusteringHeadlining storiesWrapsSeguesSingle versus multiple anchorsPacingPredictabilityTeasesTossesJunk pagesStacking the newscastFinding the news holeUpdate the story poolChoosing the lead storiesAssigning times and checking totalsFinal rundownReviewing scriptsAccuracyPlausibilityBacktimingOn-air decisions17. On-Air New and Website CoordinationInternet's new delivery channelsConvergence of optionsShuttling stories to the website or podcastFeatures done for website onlyInternet tags for on-air storiesLive feeds or raw field videoSocial mediaExtending the playing fieldGathering feedbackSoliciting user submissions18. Ethics and Legal AccountabilityTraditional ethical questionsEthics in the Internet ageThe consequences of a news storyNews agency policy books on ethicsEthics questionsReportingWritingUsing video and interviewsUsing audioExercise in ethical discussionDefamationLibel, slander and invasion of privacyWhy study defamation lawConditions for libelNegligence or malicePrivate versus public personsConsentPrivileged situationsStatute of limitationsDefenses