TV #writing tip: avoid parroting…avoid parroting

Bard of Breaking News (Breaking Bard)

Avoid parroting​!

This post was inspired by seeing a bad example of ‘parroting​’ in a major Australian commercial TV news last night. It was in one of the major first break stories too. Maybe the story/package came in late from interstate – but in my opinion, the parroting​ should have and could have been avoided.

parrott

Basically, ‘parroting’ is bad repetition and it can happen in the intro/package transition and in the grab set-up/grab transition. The media industry term is called ‘parroting’ as a derogatory term for the way parrots repeat what people say – word for word.
It applies to radio reports too.

In the story that inspired this post – the last words of the reader intro were:

…the search for answers

the first words from the reporter package were:

The search for answers…

Even with late-breaking stories or stories ‘in late and up early’ in the bulletin, news…

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Avoid this #news #writing mistake – ask yourself ‘Who was trapped in the car?’

Bard of Breaking News (Breaking Bard)

This is a photo of a car window smashed by police – not a TV screen smashed by a viewer frustrated by bad news writing.

BBN kid in car

Police smashed the window to rescue a young boy left in a locked car by his father.

The reason I wanted to smash my TV screen was frustration at this bad news writing on a first break story on major Australian TV news service

“Despite spending three hours in the car, police say the little boy…”

No! It was not the police who spent three hours in the car! But it sounds like it – the way the sentence is written.

I often hear arguments from busy news writers – it doesn’t matter. The viewer won’t care or won’t even notice – or the viewer will know what you meant to say.

I argue that it’s easy to avoid this problem – and busyness is…

View original post 191 more words

The problem with words like #fracas – how do you pronounce fracas?

Bard of Breaking News (Breaking Bard)

Some words look great in print stories but can cause problems in broadcast news when you have to pronounce the words.

This post was inspired by seeing this headline.

BBN IMG_9183.JPGFranchise Fracas looks good – and can sound good with the alliteration​.

However, ‘fancy’ words like fracas can cause problems if reporters or readers do not know how to pronounce them. Especially, if the reader pronounces them differently from the reporter.

Often there are generational and geographical differences in how people pronounce these ‘fancy’ words.

Often a more mature reader will pronounce the words in the correct British English way and a younger reporter will use the US English pronunciation – which is often as a word ‘looks’. In words borrowed from foreign languages, many letters are silent – like the S in fracaS.

My understanding is that the US English pronunciation is frak-as (where the S is pronounced)

The British…

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How to pronounce ‘haute couture’

There are different ways to pronounce ‘haute couture’ and I just saw a news bulletin with a story that, in my opinion, demonstrated the best practice when pronouncing foreign expressions like haute couture.

haute couture

If you search how to pronounce haute couture – you’ll find some sites suggest:
1. haute is pronounced like out
2. haute is pronounced like oat
3. it’s best to pronounce is ‘between’ out and oat, start with out and switch to oat and to say it fast

When I checked how to say the word in French – I heard haute pronounced like ORT.

So there’s OUT, OAT and ORT…and somewhere between OUT and OAT

Which one should you use?

I usually recommend using for Australian news audiences the British English pronunciation even if it is different from the foreign language the word is taken from.

The news buletin pronounced haute like OUT – but the main point is the reader and reporter pronounced it the same way.

Usually, reporter’s voice on the news package has already been recorded and it’s easier for the reader to listen to the package pronunciation and to match that pronunciation in the intro. Of course, the reader shouldn’t adopt a wrong pronunciation just for the sake of matching – but if there are various ways of pronouncing a word or expression, try to be consistent.

To be honest, general commercial news will not feature haute couture stories that often unless local designers are involved.

I have seen so many examples where the reader pronounces a foreign exzpression one way and the reporter pronounces it differently.

Often there are geographical and generation differences in pronouncing foreign words such as fracas and jaguar and Nicaragua.

When I help newsrooms I encourage staff to:
1. be aware of variations in the pronunciation of different words – especially UK and US English variations
2. generally prefer the pronunciation more mature viewers would use (British English) – because people who still get their news from TV are usually older, and
2. ensure consistency between the reader and reporter

Can you guess why this tease #writing technique works?

doubleshot media

When teasing news stories (or any content) – don’t just say ‘what happened?’ Give the reader a reason to ‘click through’ an on-line story or ‘stick through’ a new bulletin ad break to find out something extra.

This post was inspired by this story about one of Australia’s oldest video stores announcing that it is closing.

BBN IMG_9333.JPG

What really made me want to click through and read the story was to check if MY guess was correct in guessing what was the most popular rental.

BBNIMG_9334.JPG

Sure, there are more important news stories I should have been reading – but I admit this story ‘hooked’ me because it:
1. raised a question
2. made me want to find out the answer – to see if my answer was correct. It wasn’t! My guess was a popular kids movie.

Anyway, this example illustrates a powerful ‘teasing’ technique.

Now ‘teasing’ can be annoying to…

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Avoid this #news #writing mistake – ask yourself ‘Who was trapped in the car?’

This is a photo of a car window smashed by police – not a TV screen smashed by a viewer frustrated by bad news writing.

BBN kid in car

Police smashed the window to rescue a young boy left in a locked car by his father.

The reason I wanted to smash my TV screen was frustration at this bad news writing on a first break story on major Australian TV news service

“Despite spending three hours in the car, police say the little boy…”

No! It was not the police who spent three hours in the car! But it sounds like it – the way the sentence is written.

I often hear arguments from busy news writers – it doesn’t matter. The viewer won’t care or won’t even notice – or the viewer will know what you meant to say.

I argue that it’s easy to avoid this problem – and busyness is not an excuse​ for sloppiness.

The mistake easy to avoid – keep the ‘actor’ (subject) close to the action occurring (spending three hours in the car)

Who spent three hours in the car? The boy – not the police.

In an earlier post I wrote about this badly constructed sentence

“Protesters took on police armed with rocks.”

Once again: who has the rock? The protesters. So you should keep the rocks close to ‘who has them’ (the protestors)

Protesters armed with rocks took on police.

This sort of sloppy writing is very common in broadcast writing.

When I train news writers to improve their broadcast writing “keeping the actor close to the action’ is one of the things I stress (as my TV bosses did to me when I was starting out as a reporter and madink plenty of mistakes.)

How do you avoid this mistake?

Keep the actor close to the action. For example:

Police say despite the boy spending three hours in the car …

It’s not that hard. Reporters should remember to avoid this mistake. Subs should remember to look out for and correct this common mistake.

release-the-verb

How to use restaurant and restaurateur in writing news – why there’s no N in restaurateur

It’s a common mistake when covering stories about restaurants and restaurateurs – putting an N in restauraNteur (in writing or saying the word).

It’s a common and ‘understandable’ mistake. You’d think a person who runs a restaurant would be called a restauraNteur.

 

 

 

In my local news, there’s been a lot of coverage about restaurants closing – and the restaurateur behind them.

When I train newsrooms on how to avoid common mistakes – restaurateur is one of the problem words we cover.

Some people just want to know WHAT the problem words are.

Others want to know WHY.

When I taught Business English in Asia for a decade, the students would often ask WHY questions like “Why is there no N in restaurateur?”

If you are interested in knowing WHY there is no N in restaurateur – here is a brief and simple explanation (as I understand it)

Restaurant – comes from French and was used to describe a place that served food to RESTORE a person’s energy and well-being.

Just think restaur – restore

In French, a person who does something often has the suffix – ateur:

Collabor-ateur *1

Am- ateur *2

Restaur-ateur

So, the person who runs the restoring restaurant – is a restaur-ateur not a restauraNteur

TB media cc Slide1

———

*1 – in many English words the suffix became –OR but restauater remained

*2 Amateur – is someone who does things for LOVE (ama) nor money

The problem with words like #fracas – how do you pronounce fracas?

Some words look great in print stories but can cause problems in broadcast news when you have to pronounce the words.

This post was inspired by seeing this headline.

BBN IMG_9183.JPG

Franchise Fracas looks good – and can sound good with the alliteration​.

However, ‘fancy’ words like fracas can cause problems if reporters or readers do not know how to pronounce them. Especially, if the reader pronounces them differently from the reporter.

Often there are generational and geographical differences in how people pronounce these ‘fancy’ words.

Often a more mature reader will pronounce the words in the correct British English way and a younger reporter will use the US English pronunciation – which is often as a word ‘looks’. In words borrowed from foreign languages, many letters are silent – like the S in fracaS.

My understanding is that the US English pronunciation is frak-as (where the S is pronounced)

The British English way – especially with the more mature audience is frak-ah (no S.)

In my opinion, especially with commercial TV news, whichever way you choose to pronounce it – part of your audience will think you are wrong.

I’ve heard complaints from more mature TV viewers that network international correspondents often mispronounce words like fracas and cache and niche

I usually advise newsrooms to be aware of problem words (where you will seem wrong even if you are technically correct). Try to find simpler everyday words that don’t have different ways of pronouncing them.

I love the word combination franchise fracas in print. I’d just avoid it in broadcast.

OR:

1. make sure the reader and reporter pronounce the words the same way, and
2. use the Brit-English pronunciation

In busy newsrooms, it’s easier just to find a simpler word. You can still have the words in print on the screen behind the reader/s. Just find a simpler word for the intro and package.

Avoid too many #teasers that sound the same or similar

This post was inspired by seeing two stories grouped too close together with headlines that seemed too similar.

BBN IMG_9117

They two stories used the same teasing technique:
1. suggesting some surprise​ or something unexpected
2. the use of the word THIS – so the reader has to click through to see what THIS is.

BBN IMG_9116

In my professional opinion, ‘teasing’ is a necessary part of modern news writing and the technique itself is not the problem.

The problem is seeing the same technique used in two stories so close to each other.

I understand that with continuing staff cuts across media, newsrooms have fewer people to check. However, it should be part of a newsroom’s standard procedure to check the blocks of story teasers that appear together on-line or in the ‘breakers’ in a TV newscast. (breakers – are the group of stories announced as ‘coming up’ or ‘don’t miss’ as a TV newscast goes into a commercial break).

The purpose of breakers is to ‘tease’and intrigue viewers to get them to stay tuned and not change channels during the break. Breakers are important. Breakers can be another ‘danger zone’ if the same ‘teasing’ wording is obviously repeated.

I’ve seen examples of wording that is too similar in writing TV breakers too –

e.g. blah blah blah…what happens next? (repeated) or

How to X (repeated) or

why Z happened? (repeated)

a lucky escape for Y (repeated)

News writers – especially those entrusted with writing teasers or breakers should expect this potential problem and check and if necessary change the wording or pick different stories to promote.

It should not be an excuse to say: ‘I wasn’t expecting this”

#Teasing news stories – show just enough to make the audience want more

I know this idea of teasing stories may sound ‘sleazy’ but it’s the sad reality of modern news trying to get readers to ‘click through’ to on-line ‘newspaper’ stories and to ‘stick through’ watching TV news bulletins.

Writing ‘teasers’ is a necessary part of journalism these days and when I train writers in newsrooms, I often need to teach them not to ‘reveal too much’ – reveal just enough to arouse interest or curiosity so the reader or viewer wants to click through or stick through.

BBN IMG_9047

This ‘story’ I saw this morning was a good example in my professional opinion.

It reveals just enough – in the words and the photo.

The words and photos have to make you want to know what “this” is.

Taking photos for ‘teasers’ and editing TV teasers is a skill in itself – you have to hint at what ‘this’ is – but not reveal it all.

I looked carefully at the accompanying photo – thought what it could be – and then wanted to click through to see if I was correct.

Another factor arousing curiosity and interest was the contrast between a usually inexpensive sandwich and the $35 price tag. What could cost that amount?

Anyway, my suggestion to you when writing (or editing or shooting video/stills) for a teaser – don’t reveal too much in the teaser.

Now I am hungry for one of those sandwiches!

Food is a great magnet to arouse interest – especially around times the reader or viewer may be hungry.