How To Write A News Package
By: Jonathan Cooper
The Unseen Entity of Television News
A news package is an innovative way to convey news to a broad audience. It is a visual form of news that has a story, characters, entertainment value, and facts. Reporters spend copious amounts of their time researching stories, interviewing characters, and eventually writing the scripts for these packages. The general population rarely sees news package scripts because the aspect you see on the evening news are video forms. This guide is intended to teach you how to write a news package script. Whether you are an inexperienced reporter or somebody interested in public genres, understanding news packages can give us a more informed perspective of the news we watch daily.
Writing a script should be the final step in creating an entire news package. Long before you sit down to write out the script, you should be thinking of sound bytes and ways to structure your story. News packages need to have a beginning, middle, and an end, as well as characters. Be thinking of the direction you want it go as you shoot video and conduct interviews. Once you have enough audio and video for your story, you are ready to begin:
- Separate the script into two columns. On the left side, write video. On the right side, audio. Because you are writing for a visual medium, it is vital to separate out what the audience will see and what they will hear.
- Choose sound bytes that are emotional, provide an interesting opinion, or help your story along. As you choose these sound bytes, mark the time on the tape next to the sound byte you write out so the editor can find it easily.
- Write voice-overs that you, the reporter, will say to push the story along. The voice-overs should not stick out, but rather sound natural with the story.
- Weave sound bytes and voice-overs together to create a cohesive audio section to your story.
- Find places to put natural sound, which is strongly connected with video.
- Write down video you have that complement the audio. You will have a large selection from shooting B-Roll in the field. Mark times next to the video so the editor can find it easily.
- Read over your script and make sure it sounds natural, follows the guidelines of a story, and is easy to read so the editor will have an easier time editing it later.
- Once the script is completed you are ready to go into the sound booth and record your voice-overs.
Some Tips and Warnings
- Be creative in the story you tell. You want to entertain as well as inform.
- Be sensitive in how you convey your story in sad subject matters.
- Don’t log every sound byte if you know you are not going to use it. Only take sounds bytes that are relevant to the direction of your story.
- Feel free to modify the format of your script if you feel it makes it easier to understand.
- If you work for a news station, you will be working on a strict deadline so you must be able to write scripts quickly and efficiently.
- Think of a title that is unique and best expresses your story.
- Ask for assistance from your photographer for good ideas for video.
The Beauty of News Packages
Few people realize the hard work that reporters and other employees of television stations put in to broadcasting the news every day. While news packages are only a small portion of the work that these people do, it could be one of their most important tasks. It is the culmination of research, interviews, and investigating that are combined into the single unit the audience sees. Without a script however, these packages would be nothing. Scripts are the foundation of television news and essentially the medium to the world around us. All news packages are different in the information they convey, however they all follow a general outline that makes it easy to read and convert to a broadcast form. By following the guidelines in this tutorial, you will not only produce a good story, but also write a script that will be useful for whoever edits it, and ultimately watches your news package.
Outside Links and Examples
-An example of a completed news package script from a high school broadcasting student.
-Focuses on specifically how to write a news package script.
-Provides a simple overview of creating a news package.
-Sample, finished news packages by CBS News’ Steve Hartman.