How To Turn Your Broadcast
Script Into The Perfect Web Article
How To Turn Your Broadcast Script
Into The Perfect
Lately, I’ve seen more and more people post about struggling to turn their broadcast script into a web article.
This is a valid struggle because so many times, there’s not enough training (or no training) on how to do that. Better yet, we’re often in the dark about what an “ideal” web article looks like, and what elements should be included. So, I wanted to share some insight from what I’ve learned…and what I’ve had to find out the hard way.
Keep in mind, newsroom leaders and digital gurus may vary on what they view as “ideal,” and each may have certain requirements they want you to fulfill. However, these are a few tips to at least get you started.
First things first, let’s start with the basics. Yes, you MUST do some rewriting.
Listen, I get it. It’s the end of the day, you’re beat, the last thing you want to do is write and format a web article. Trust me. I’m there daily myself. However, think of it this way, if YOUR name is attached to something, don’t you want it to be the best it can be?
Let’s break this process down.
Step one: STOP copying and pasting.
Simply put, stop publishing the exact same script from your package in your article and calling it a day. Yes, you can copy and paste as a guide, but you have to put in a little more effort than that.
Again, your name is attached to it. Real talk: One of the aspects news directors and other employers consider during the hiring process is how well you can write. They’ll most likely try to find some web articles you’ve done, and will judge you based on them.
Step two: Redo the intro.
Odds are (even though I just told you not to), you probably just copied and pasted the anchor intro in for the article intro.
This is an issue because it probably says something like… “Our (reporter’s name) has been there all day and has the latest.” Okay, cool. Good for an anchor intro to a live shot, but not good for a web article.
The reader will already have some questions: Out where? What happened? Is that still the latest? When was this posted? Granted, some of those questions depends on the reader’s ability (and level of “want to”) to actually process information.
“UGH WHYYYYYY?” 🙄 That’s what you’re probably thinking right now huh? (Like I said, I’ve been in your shoes.)
Let me explain something, web articles have to appeal to an extremely broad audience.
Some people like to read long articles. Some people like to watch the video attached to the article and be done.
While some people can’t watch the video at the moment, because they’re at work, but they scan through the written portion quickly. Some people are hard of hearing so they are unable to listen to what is being said in the video. Some people cannot read at all so they have to watch the video. What if something went wrong with the back end of the website, so the video isn’t there but the written portion is, and vice versa?
For example, picture a person in a domestic violence situation that finally gets a second to themselves. So they take the chance to find that one reporter’s story that mentioned an organization that helps DV victims. Say they find the web article, but there’s just a video, and the CGs weren’t working that day. So they can’t see the number. If it’s not included in the body of the article…that second of solitude is gone. Now their abuser is back.
“Okay, now you’re just being dramatic.” Yeah, maybe so, but you’d be surprised how often I’ve had people tell me these exact things. Hearing feedback from people in your city who watch you, and rely on you to inform them, can make you change your ways quickly.
With that being said, just remember that there could be a lot riding on that one “thing” you have to do at the end of the day, that you really hate or don’t want to do or decide to skip doing.
Heavy. I know. But isn’t the goal of journalism to help people? I think it is anyway. But hey, while you ponder that a bit, let’s move on to the next step.
Step three: Clean it up, and add extra stuff.
Formatting can be no fun, but it needs to be done. Formatting can include rewriting parts of the script to make it fit AP style, (example: “Your interview said this quote,” last name said.) or just making the information easier to read and understand.
This is also an opportunity to add in more quotes you wish you could have put into your package. Did they say something that was AMAZING, but it just didn’t fit with the broadcast story? Put it in the web article.
Did you take some incredible photos at the scene? Put them in the web article. Does the subject/business have a website or social media page? Hyperlink it in there. Is this story a continuation of another story you did yesterday or last week? Hyperlink those stories in this article. Have extra video that you wish you could find a place for? Put it in the web article. Basically, put all the stuff that “never leaves the editing room floor” in the web article.
Yes, this will be a lot of work. Extra work. But, doesn’t your subject deserve thorough coverage? This hard work can pay off for you too! These types of web articles will make you stand out, and will set you apart from others at your current station.
These well-done and polished articles could even launch you to the next step of your career path. Plus, you could submit them to win awards. There are so many categories that include web and social media coverage now a days!
Bottom line: All of these simple (yes, at times very tedious) steps can help you in your career.
It can also help you better understand the topic you are covering.
Now for another hard truth. One of the reasons your GM pressures the sales staff, who in turn pressures the news department, to get more content on the website is that the website generates revenue. It’s not just more clicks that mean more money. It’s TIME SPENT on the website as well. So, the more the reader has to look at (videos, pictures, hyperlinks) the more time they’ll spend clicking around on your station’s website.
These numbers are then gathered by the sales team who then go out and sell ad space on the website. Hopefully, the more money the station makes, the more money they have to spend on things. So, that’s how it all works in a nut shell.
Keeping in mind that each station is different, don’t be afraid to ask your managers what is expected for each web article. If you are feeling overwhelmed by these expectations, don’t worry. I’ve learned personally that time management plays a huge role in how many tasks I can accomplish in one day.
For example, if I’ve got 30 minutes or longer before I go to my shoot, I start a Word Document and get the web article started. I jot down ideas, facts and figures if I’ve got them. I will also add quotes from other people/organizations if I’ve got them, or can get them via email, links to hyperlink in the article, and so on.
Starting to write and gather elements early can make the posting process at the end of the day so much easier! (Here are some more time management tips.)
Just like anything else, practice makes perfect. So keep on going! You’ve got this!