Writing on the Fly

writing on the fly panelWe chose to attend this session because, often, in a TV2 daily production, focusing on being edgy and having great production value often forces writing to be done incredibly quickly. We’re hoping for some great advice from industry pros on how to make quick writing quality writing.

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3:08 p.m.: Session underway. Doug Richards, Reporter/Producer – WXIA, 11 Alive Atlanta; and Matt Terrell, SCAD Atlanta Radio.

3:09 p.m.: Radio: Reasons – 1. You’re pressed for time, and you don’t have a story at all. 2. You’re pressed for time, you have a story, but you don’t know how to put it together. 3. You’re pressed for time, you have a story, but it’s really boring.

3:11 p.m.: 1. Identify conflict. Identify characters in that conflict. Figure out/ask “What do these people WANT?” Identify the resolution. Think about people as characters in a movie. It’s the easiest way to quickly pull out key, compelling details.

3:12 p.m.: Think like a filmmaker. Set Up, Confrontation, Resolution. Set Up: introduce the situation, characters and guide people to the main conflict. Confrontation: the real “meat” of the conflict of the story. Resolution: the outworking of the story. The plot points are what sets the conflict in motion and what moves you to the outcome.

3:14 p.m.: Focus on escalating conflicts and contrasts towards a resolution. It really does help to think of characters, conflicts and plot points out in the field. It really helps you with what type of questions you want to ask them. Who is protagonist and antagonist?

3:19 p.m.: 2. Learn to work from an “ideal” story template.

3:20 p.m.: Interview: Strange/Intriguing quote; V/O: Clarify the situation, define the conflict; Interview: Describe with colorful language; V/O: Reframe the conflict; Summarize: Compelling ending quote to resolve the conflict.

3:21 p.m.: Listen for intriguing quotes as you interview people. Note what quote could open your story, describe it deeper and resolve it.

3:25 p.m.: 3. Participate in the story. Example: Boring story about girl scouts selling cookies? Try selling cookies yourself! Or describe how the story affects you. Boring story about hurricane evacuation? Talk about how you’d respond.

3:28 p.m.: TV: If you do a story that’s really boring, write it in rhyme. Or write it in the second person. If you are employed in the news business, you will want to cover feature stories. But your news director will want you to cover hard news. How do you write hard news on the fly?

3:29 p.m.: Make sure you stay in active tense. Avoid cliches. Be sure not to inject feelings they feel were in the framework of a story or their own feelings. People in the news business get criticized for sensationalizing. But if you have an interesting story that is sensational on its own, write the story in a way that calls out the interesting pieces of the story.

3:31 p.m.: Example story: World Changer’s Church shooting in Atlanta. It’s important to be able to take key facts from a news conference and turn them into soundbites.

3:36 p.m.: There is a lot of information that comes out of news conferences. You have to know how to take a story and put it on the air in ten minutes. Lead with something new from the conference.

3:40 p.m.: “A manhunt is underway for a gunman who shot and killed a church volunteer during a prayer service at a high-profile Atlanta church,” would be a quality opening line, followed by, “The shooting happened this morning. A police spokeswoman Corporal Kay Lester told reporters some two-dozen people were attending the prayer service, which was led by the victim.” Follow that with “Lester identifies the gunman as 52-year-old Floyd Palmer, a former employe of World Changer’s Church International.”

3:43 p.m.: At this point, include a soundbite from the spokeswoman, “We do not know if he went in to attend the service. All we know at this time is that he went in, walked in calmly, opened fire inside the church and left as calmly as he came.”

3:46 p.m.: There’s never a completely right or wrong answer about how to structure a story. It depends on the station’s individual style and the discretion of the producer.

3:50 p.m.: Make it local. “The church pastor, Creflo Dollar, wasn’t at the church at the time of the shooting police say.” Dollar is a local, Atlanta celebrity.

3:53 p.m.: “Police say the gunman fired multiple shots before he fled in a black Subaru wagon with tinted windows. Police say the gunman is armed and dangerous.”

3:56 p.m.: Make sure you re-read everything before you submit it. Be sure to be as conversational as you can.


This seminar was very much for beginner’s with broadcast writing. It was incredibly relevant to our medium, but it didn’t really provide much new information.

Relevance to TV2 – A

Insight and Demystification – B-

Innovative Ideas – B-

Overall – B-

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