Writing for radio:
Writing for radio is writing for millions including every type of people, educated, uneducated, young and old, men and women from every section of the society. Radio is generally listened in houses where all the members of the family move together. It is therefore necessary that nothing should be there against moral ethics of our society. There are five key principles to be kept in mind while writing radio news. It is spoken, it is immediate, it is person to person, it is heard only once and it is sound only.
While it is true that radio news scripts are shorter than most news stories written for print, the radio news writer is still obliged to tell a complete and clear story. Facts needed to put the story into perspective and provide balance which must be included.
The most important point regarding style in radio news writing is simplicity. If the language is too complex or difficult it is possible the story will not be completely understood. Radio news writers generally apply a few rules of their own to help them get the information across in the simplest form. These are; keep the sentences short, avoid complex construction and use basic words not colloquialism.
Writers are encouraged to get into the substance of the story and this is best done by starting with a good declarative sentence that presents the most important information. The listener is not to be overburdened with too many facts in the lead. The listener should know immediately what has happened. Don’t leave him wondering. Writing news for different’audipnce also needs different approaches within the country, some news bulletins are for the whole people, while some are beamed for different provinces or for particular ethnic pockets. In the external services news is prepared for foreign listeners. All of them deserve special awareness on the part of the editor.
Preparation of News bulletins:
There are many categories of news bulletins in our part of the world. In Radio Pakistan the main categories are; national, world service (for overseas Pakistanis), regional, local, external and general overseas slow speed bulletins. National bulletins are meant for the entire population of the- country and are broadcast both in Urdu and English. News bulletins for overseas Pakistanis are broadcast in Urdu in the World Service. Regional bulletins are broadcast in the regional languages. Local bulletins contain news and announcements of local interest in a particular city or area. External bulletins are broadcast for overseas listeners in their respective languages. The general overseas slow speed bulletins are broadcast at dictation pace for use in our-embassies in different countries. In the preparation of these bulletins we have to go through the process of selecting and editing news and arranging them in order of importance. In case of longed duration bulletins headlines are also given. The headlines call for clearest and tightest possible writing.
The general News Room is the centre of activity in the preparation and production of news bulletins. The wire copy, dispatches of reporters, monitoring
reports, hand outs and press releases are the main sources of news production- system. Whatever lands in the news room undergoes a regular process of sorting. The editor has got to he quite selective and choosy. This is because of the limited space available for news cast. The skill to reject redundant material and select useable material is one of the basic requirements of a good radio editor.
Unlike newspapers, a radio bulletin is to be prepared by not more than two editors who select stories from large quantity of material. The editor is supposed to be quick enough to keep on selecting the probable’s and rejecting the useless. Then comes the stage of drafting. Before handing over the bulletin to the newsreader it is arranged in a logical order.
Problems and pressures:
The main challenge before a radio editor is to make the copy simple and easy to understand. The editor is supposed to be capable of writing simple and clear language and making crisp news draft. Difficult and useless words and phrases are to be avoided. Unlike periodicals and daily newspapers, radio news is always ‘immediate’ in nature. If it is official medium, the official obligations are also there. In radio there are generally no restrictions or specific guidelines. The editor is required to determine whether a particular item is to go on the air or not. Radio editor not only faces problem of short space but also of time as well. Preparing a bulletin is like’ running against the time. Every regular bulletin has to go on the air at a fixed time.
Almost in every bulletin several items are read unrehearsed by the news reader if drafted later after the bulletin has started. Smart radio writers deal with such ‘Problems stories’ successfully as they are usually able to make sound judgments quickly and avoiding pit falls.
Presently news bulletins in Pakistan are broadcast in a flat manner without voice inserts and other actualities. This makes the news bulletins lifeless. Voice reports and sound actualities should be inserted in news and current affairs programmers to make them more interesting and credible. As a consequence of the. present style of news production the radio editor in our country has little knowledge about tape editing techniques which include cutting of recorded material and dubbing etc. Editing of interviews for news bulletins is also a bit difficult which needs skill and training. ,
Our all news bulletins are translated versions of the master copy (prepared in English). This reflects lack of confidence on the part of those who are at the helm of affairs. Translated copy is always unnatural and complicated. If English is replaced . by Urdu as a medium of editing it will bring about many advantages. It will also lead to a better and close “liaison between the national and regional languages and help to promote national integration.
News reading is another integral part of broadcast journalism. After all it i’ the newsreader who conveys the contents of reports to the listener. The news reader should not only possess a good voice but a lot of other qualities including good accent and pronunciation, art of effective delivery, correct use of pauses and stress, intelligent reading and complete confidence.
The news reader is the real messenger of any news organization. The message should be transmitted in an effective and pleasant manner. Both the message and its communication should be faultless. Often a radio station is identified through the style of its news reading.