Writing TV news is a delicate balance – you want to sound conversational but you also want to be correct. TV audiences can include a more mature people who were educated about correct grammar and spelling – and younger people who are more used to using a ‘less uptight’ and more conversational style.
Sometimes it’s hard to choose between being correct and being conversational. Write correctly and you sound can old-fashioned and stuffy. Write conversationally and you upset your audience familiar with good grammar. You sound uneducated.
For example: the word NONE can pose problems.
Technically the correct way to use none is: none of the children WAS injured – because NONE means NOT ONE – so NOT ONE of the children WAS injured.
However, it sounds wrong. NONE were injured sounds more conversational but it’s incorrect. Not one were injured.
I recommend you have none of none!
Out damned none. Out I say.
Get thee to a none-ery.
It’s easy to replace none.
Just flip none of the children WAS injured to something like.
All of the children escaped injury.
NO children were injured.
So remember: to write conversationally AND correctly – have none of none!
Hi, if you are interesting in writing – you’ll probably enjoy this blog. I’m a self-confessed and proud word nerd and big fan of Shakespeare – and other writers such as Hemingway.
One of the most satisfying parts of my job as a Deputy News Director at a major commercial TV network in Australia is helping younger writers.
I understand that the name Bard of Breaking News can seem outrageously arrogant – yet I strategically use it for ‘memorable branding’ and for the comic effect of the outrageous link and contrast between the lasting and deep grandeur or Shakespeare’s writing and the disposable speed of modern breaking news.
I do firmly believe that we can all learn from Shakespeare’s techniques to improve our writing – whether it’s for business or political speeches or even writing breaking news.