Writing News For TV EXCLUSIVE
This publication on news writing television and radio is the fourth of a five-part series on news media writing. This series also covers an introduction to news media writing, news writing for print, grammar and punctuation, and interviews for news stories.
Writing News For TV
As with any type of news writing, you should try to identify characteristics of your audience so you know what type of information your audience wants. Use the criteria of newsworthiness presented in News Media Writing in this publication series to help you determine if your television or radio news story idea has news value. Television and radio news stories must have these attributes:
Writing for television, radio or video requires a different set of skills than writing text. Clear and condensed writing is key. After all, a radio listener or TV viewer can't go back and re-read a sentence.
Use the present tense and active voice: You're writing for flow and to express what is going on now. Broadcast strives for immediacy. To convey this to the listener, use the active voice whenever possible. In English, try to use a subject-verb-object sentence structure. For example: "Police (subject) have arrested (verb) 21 activists (object) for staging a protest at Merlion Park on Saturday afternoon."
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A news ticker (sometimes called a "crawler", "crawl", "slide", "zipper", or "ticker tape") is a horizontal or vertical (depending on a language's writing system) text-based display either in the form of a graphic that typically resides in the lower third of the screen space on a television station or network (usually during news programming) or as a long, thin scoreboard-style display seen around the facades of some offices or public buildings dedicated to presenting headlines or minor pieces of news. It is an evolution of the ticker tape, a continuous paper print-out of stock quotes from a printing telegraph which was mainly used in stock exchanges before the advance of technology in the 1960s.
News tickers have been used in Europe in countries such as United Kingdom, Germany and Ireland for some years; they are also used in several Asian countries and Australia. In the United States, tickers were long used on a special event basis by broadcast television stations to disseminate weather warnings, school closings, and election results. Sports telecasts occasionally used a ticker to update other contests in progress before the expansion of cable news networks and the internet for news content. In addition, some ticker displays are used to relay continuous stock quotes (usually with a delay of as much as 15 minutes) during trading hours of major stock market exchanges.
Most tickers are traditionally displayed in the form of scrolling text running from right to left across the screen or building display (or in the opposite direction for right-to-left writing systems such as Arabic script and Hebrew), allowing for headlines of varying degrees of detail; some used by television broadcasters, however, display stories in a static manner (allowing for the seamless switching of each story individually programmed for display) or utilize a "flipping" effect (in which each individual headline is shown for a few seconds before transitioning to the next, instead of scrolling across the screen, usually resulting in a relatively quicker run through of all of the information programmed into the ticker). Since the growth in usage of the World Wide Web, some news tickers have syndicated news stories posted largely on websites of broadcasters or by other independent news agencies.
Various applications have been developed over time to install news tickers on personal computer desktops using RSS feeds from news organizations, which are displayed in a fashion similar to those used by television channels but enable the user to access to underlying news stories, a feature not offered by traditional television channels. The Bloomberg Terminal and other stock market-tracking programs and devices also utilize tickers.
In the United Kingdom, broadcasters have stopped using this technology as other forms of communications have become available and increased in popularity. BBC News and Sky News discontinued their respective desktop tickers in March 2011 and 2012 to focus on other products, such as smartphone applications, to deliver updated information on breaking news and sport stories.
In 1928, The New York Times installed a Motograph [fr] to display news headlines on the sides of Times Tower. The display was 388 feet long, 5 feet high, and employed over 14,800 light bulbs. Popularly known as the "Zipper," the sign remained in use until the building was sold in 1961. The sign was darkened during World War II to comply with wartime lighting restrictions. The Motograph operated until 1994 and was replaced by an electronic version in 1995, which was in turn removed in 2018 due to the replacement of all individual screens on the front of One Times Square with a 350-foot-tall LED billboard in 2018.
The Reuters buildings at Canary Wharf and in Toronto have news and stock tickers; the latter type features market data for the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ and London Stock Exchange, while the Toronto building's ticker also includes quotes from the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Almost all of the news channels based in India use a news ticker, most of which display them in a two-band format, each of which have a different purpose. Some stations, such as Sahara Samay and News Live, use one of the horizontal ticker bands to display text advertisements.
Most of the news tickers used in the country are structured as scrolls. One such exception is with CNN-IBN, which uses both a "flipper" ticker for headlines and a scrolling ticker for stock quotes. During breaking news coverage, CNN-IBN places an alternating "BREAKING NEWS" text and headline title on the upper band, with news updates regarding the news event on the bottom band.
Some of the more tabloid-formatted news channels like Republic TV often feature a continuous, simplistic and alarmist presentation where the ticker is large and often accompanied by other tickers, along with a rolling watermark for claimed news "exclusives".
In Malaysia, news tickers are utilized by Astro Awani (in the form of a "flipper" ticker) and Bernama TV. The former keeps their ticker on-screen during commercial breaks, unlike that used by Bernama, as the case with those used during news programs broadcast on TV1, TV2, TV3, NTV7 and TV9.
GEO News and Dunya News use a single-band scrolling ticker (with white text on a blue background) that displays headlines in both English and Urdu. A special red flipper variant is used for breaking news coverage, with the story text displayed via an animation. A red-over-white upper band was also added during such events, which displays an alternating "BREAKING NEWS" text accompanied by the story title in both languages. The channel sometimes incorporates a secondary news ticker placed above the standard ticker during certain special coverage. ARY News also uses a news ticker to display news headlines.
In the Philippines, tickers are featured during news programs by various networks including TV5; the state-owned PTV (which have a ticker even on the non-news programmes; until September 2020), Mensahe TV Media International Inc.,(Mensahe TV) and Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC); and local news programs aired by domestic television stations DWAO-TV ("UNTV"), DZEC-TV ("Net 25") and DZOE-TV ("A2Z").
the state-owned Radio Philippines Network was the first Philippine television network to incorporate a ticker within its news broadcasts (which are formerly featured on the news programs RPN NewsWatch and RPN NewsCap).
GMA Network was the first Philippine television network to incorporate a ticker within its news broadcasts (which are currently featured on the news programs 24 Oras, Unang Hirit and Saksi). The network formerly incorporated traffic data provided by Trapik.com within the ticker in the early 2000s. During elections, GMA also utilized a ticker displaying updated vote counts, even during broadcasts of the network's telenovelas with the help of PRiM Comms and Events, a third party PR and Media Company headed by its Media Director, Mr. Ralph Jasper Jose.
GMA News TV uses two types of news tickers: a silver version used for news programmes augmented with a black time bug on the left side of the screen; and a thicker white ticker for public affairs and entertainment programs (as well as the news program Balita Pilipinas before it was removed on the schedule in 2014) augmented with a red bordered clock on the left side.
ABS-CBN began using a news ticker by 2003, with ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) launch its ticker in 2005, which is accompanied by a PSE stock ticker on Mornings@ANC and Business Nightly. The tickers used by ABS-CBN and ANC are also usually accompanied by a time bug placed on either the left or the right side of the bar, opposite the scrolling headlines (both often covered up by international broadcasters carrying it on a delay).
In South Korea, KBS1, KBS World and MBC TV each utilize news tickers during their news programmes, and in some instances, during non-news programmes. News tickers were first introduced in the country in 2001 by KBS1 and MBC TV for their morning news programmes. KBS World later introduced their own ticker in 2009 for its news programmes, including KBS World News Today. KBS1 switch their tickers to a flipper effect in 2008, while the version used by MBC TV continues to utilize a scrolling effect until 2009, when MBC TV switch to a flipper effect. KBS World continues to using the tickers with scrolling effect.