newscast is usually a five-minute period devoted to the
latest headline news. It consists of from seven to ten swift-moving
bulletins of front-page caliber. Each item contains from fifty to
seventy-five words, except the featured story, which may be from one hundred
and fifty to two hundred words long. The newscaster, in selecting
items to read, strives for variety. Local, international, national,
economic, social, and religious items are
included, and a human-interest story usually closes the period,
leaving a laugh behind.
The newscaster never gives his own personal views. He merely reports. The
accepted form of the five-minute newscast
is the result of a compromise agreed upon by the radio industry and the
press a few years ago, when the press questioned radio's right to use its
various news services. Now practically every radio station engages the
services of the Associated Press, the United Press, the
Transradio Press Service, or the
International News Service. Large stations employ more than one service.
The news items pour in over the teletype constantly and the newscaster—or
editor—must select the items he wishes to use,
interlarding them with local items of interest. Each item should be "date-lined"* but current custom
is making it the usual thing
to introduce the source of the news in the first sentence
rather than to call out the name
of a city or country before each piece of news broadcast.
The newscast is in a class by itself. Because the listener feels he is
having a paper
read to him, it is not so necessary
to use a chatty style, as it is the case of other broadcasts.
The news is so engrossing it requires no bid for
An interesting and
valuable experience for a student is to cull from the front page
of a newspaper material sufficient for a
five-minute newscast, taking the involved sentences of summary leads and breaking them up into several shorter ones,
better suited to speech, arranging the items with the most important one
first (or possibly second), making
selections that cover
variety of types of news, giving the date-line information
incidentally in the
ending with the human-interest story.
The following is a portion of
edited newscast from WTOP. Date-line information
as originally released by the
absorbed in the opening paragraph, and phonetic spelling of foreign names
has been employed to make reading easy for the announcer.
Here are a few examples of the wire report
of the Transradio Press Service. News
stories, delivered daily, including Sunday, on a leased wire which operates
from 5 a.m.
to 1 a.m. E.W.T., at the
rate of sixty words per minute, are made as short as possible to permit
their ready use in newscasts, enabling stations in fifteen minutes to give a
budget of all the major news throughout
There are other special devices that Transradio has developed, such as
"thumbnail" word sketches of men or women who may, for
the moment, be unusually prominent in the news; brief, unusual, dramatic
news oddities, sometimes touched with
humor and usually used as "end stories" in newscasts to
give the program an effective final touch; thumbnail stories giving
geographical, industrial, or economic pictures of
certain cities, islands, or unusual world locations that come into the news,
and so on.
But the basic content of the wire report is spot news. And the basic
principle in the
writing is simplicity of
construction, so that the reader finds it easy to move smoothly
through his newscast. The spot story organization is much
like that of all news writing.
important facts are placed toward the top to facilitate cutting in length,
factual information is emphasized for spot news programs,
with color and dramatic phrasing used
only to vivify the facts and not as an end in itself.
The distinction must be kept in mind between spot news programs and
supplemental news feature programs; between straight radio news broadcasting
and commentator programs, which are largely editorial.
The “Roundup” lead is particularly suitable for shorter news broadcasts,
such as those of five minutes. The stories mentioned in these roundups
already have been covered in separate, individual stories. (Note: The news
editor at a radio station can take this compactly written information and
make it more conversational.)
In radio, "date-line" refers to locale only, since the date is always