Advice from NPR's veteran newscaster.
- When writing, keep sentences short and conversational. Like this.
- Organize and time your stories so that you are able to stop reading a piece of copy before you get to the end of the story. Each story should be written so it can either be cut short or run long. You should be able to fit key elements into the first few sentences and have it make sense if you decide to cut away early for time. Stories should also be able to run long without dragging or boring listeners if you need to fill extra time.
- Story counts will vary on the amount of news you have available. Don't be wedded to a particular number of stories per newscast.
Don't be afraid to run just two stories if that is what the news is. Don't be afraid to put five stories together if that is what is warranted.
- Be sure to "tell" the story, not just "read" it. In a subtle way, use your voice to convey humor, surprise and even sorrow. Share with your listeners - funny things are funny! Feats are amazing. Disasters and violence are tragic. But do not overdramatize an especially disturbing story. If it is very upsetting, pause for a moment before continuing to the next item to allow your listeners to take in the news. Be sure to calculate that extra second or two of silence into your newscast.
- Please call Newscasts to pitch a spot and please offer Q-and-A at the same time. Let us know if you are a first-time filer. We're especially interested in hearing from places that aren't covered as well, such as the middle of the country. Don't be discouraged if your first offerings are turned down. Keep pitching. Overnights, holidays and weekends are especially good times to call and offer material, when it's slower. NPR Newscasts: (800) 433-1277. We are open 24/7, 365 days a year.