Lesson 3: Writing news

Students working on a report Image copyright BBC SCHOOL REPORT

LESSON 3: WRITING NEWS

This lesson explains how to write news reports for TV, Radio and Online. It introduces the three C's of scripting - being clear, concise and correct.

Jim, from Radio 1's Newsbeat, explains the process involved in writing a good script, the importance of checking facts and researching the subject.

OBJECTIVES
To develop an understanding of writing reports for TV, Radio and Online
To develop an understanding of the 3 C's - writing clearly, concisely and being correct
To develop an understanding of how to structure a news story

OVERVIEW AND RESOURCES

ACTIVITY APPROXIMATE DURATION
1. Video - Writing news 2 mins 30 secs plus discussion time
2. Activity - Writing concisely 15 mins
3. Video - Scriptwriting masterclass 3 mins 49 secs plus discussion time
4. Activity - Writing for TV, Radio and Online 10 mins
5. Quiz - Gathering news 10 mins

ACTIVITIES

1 - Video: Writing News - Huw Edwards

Media playback is unsupported on your device
BBC newsreader Huw Edwards explains the essentials of writing news.

BBC newsreader Huw Edwards explains the 3 C's of news writing: being Clear, Concise and Correct.

Writing scripts and news stories also means understanding that you need to get straight to the point!

There's no point in having an amazing news story but leaving the most important fact to the last sentence!

You can recap the key points from the video with this accompanying worksheet, or read a transcript of the video:

Key points: Writing news [27.13] Transcript: Writing news  [22.90]

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2 - Activity: Writing Concisely

Look at this information about a new study into children and their use of mobile phones. Pick out what you think are the most important points and then write a short script (of no more than five sentences) explaining what the story is about.

Remember to cover the 5 W's:

  • What's happening?
  • Who is involved?
  • Where is this happening?
  • When is it happening?
  • Why is it happening?

And be:

  • Clear - use simple language
  • Concise - keep sentences short
  • Correct - check your facts, grammar and punctuation

When you've done that write a headline - just one short sentence explaining what the story is about.

Extension exercise: Depending on your school's social media policy and the age of your students, you may ask them to write a tweet or a Facebook post explaining the story.

Example answer: Writing concisely [22.90]

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3 - Video: Scriptwriting Masterclass

Media playback is unsupported on your device
School Report - Scriptwriting masterclass

Jim from Radio 1's Newsbeat explains the process involved in writing a good script for TV, Radio and Online.

He explains the importance of checking facts, researching the subject, doing vox pops and writing the cue as well adding extras including graphics and sound effects.

Key points: Scriptwriting masterclass [27.13] Transcript: Scriptwriting masterclass [22.90]

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4 - Activity: Writing for TV, Radio and Online

Give your students the same piece of text as in the Writing Concisely section, the mobile phone study, or a story of your choice and ask students to choose between writing a piece for TV, one for radio and one for online.

Remind students to think about how their scripts might be different, depending on the platform they are using.

  • TV - Students will need to think about the pictures - what shots would illustrate their reports? They don't need to write about what they see as people can see it? Willl students include a piece-to-camera?
  • Radio - Think about using many more describing words so students can paint a picture for the people who are listening. What sounds would help their audience understand what is going on - eg: a ringing phone.
  • Online - Get most of the crucial information in the top four paragraphs. What pictures would they use to illustrate the report?

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EXTENSION Activity: Storyboarding

You're now going to make a TV report about the new study into whether mobile phones are harmful to children.

These are all the bits you have - put them in order of where they will go in your report.

  • A piece to camera done by the reporter at Imperial College London explaining the study
  • An interview with one of the researchers
  • An interview with some children who will be taking part in the study
  • Pictures of children using mobile phones
  • An interview with someone from the World Health Organisation
  • Pictures of Imperial College London and the research team
  • Pictures of mobile phone shops and people using them on the streets
  • Some script by the reporter explaining why this is really important
  • The reporter saying 'this is John Smith, reporting for BBC News School Report'

Is there anything else you would like to include in your report? If so, make a list.

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5 - Quiz: Writing News

This multiple-choice quiz is designed to test your knowledge of how to write scripts and stories.

Quiz: Writing news [23.79]

You can find the answers here.

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For reference, teachers may like to look at previous years' lesson plans including 2012-14, 2009-11 and 2006-8.

This lesson has been approved by the BBC College of Journalism.

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