Writing for Broadcast Journalists

Writing for Broadcast Journalists

Writing for Broadcast Journalists

Writing for Broadcast Journalists


'This is a superb book which combines the rare mixture of high quality information with humour. The style of writing engages the reader from the introduction and the experience and insight of the author occasionally makes it difficult to put down, a rare feature of a textbook. I would unreservedly recommend this book not only to those studying journalism but to students of language and all who use the spoken and written word as the 'materials' of their work.' Barry Turner, Nottingham Trent University

'Rick Thompson's guidance manual is packed with advice to would-be writers for this medium. He's someone with years of experience at the top level of the national and international profession, and he's smack up to date with his references. The book is aimed at journalists, but anyone with a serious interest in developing their literacy will learn a lot about professional writing skills from what he has to say.' Roy Johnson, www.mantex.co.uk

Writing for Broadcast Journalists guides readers through the significant differences between the written and the spoken versions of journalistic English. It will help broadcast journalists at every stage of their careers to avoid such pitfalls as the use of newspaper-English, common linguistic errors, and Americanised phrases, and gives practical advice on accurate terminology and pronunciation, while encouraging writers to capture the immediacy of the spoken word in their scripts.

Writing for Broadcast Journalists includes:

  • practical tips on how to avoid 'journalese', clichés and jargon
  • guidance on tailoring your writing style to suit a particular audience
  • advice on converting agency copy into spoken English
  • writing to television pictures
  • examples of scripts from some of the best in the business
  • an appendix of 'dangerous' words and phrases to be avoided in scripts.


Polonius: ‘What do you read my lord?’
Hamlet: ‘Words, words, words.’

(William Shakespeare, Hamlet, II.2)

An English style, familiar but not coarse, and elegant but not

(Dr Samuel Johnson, Lives of the English Poets: Addison)


This is a book about words, words that are usually spoken aloud and received into the brain via the ear, rather than the eye. Specifically, it is about the language and style of broadcast news. It is designed to help journalists working in radio and television to write scripts that will be clear, concise, accurate and elegant. This new edition also has an extended section on writing for online news sites, because many broadcast journalists must do this routinely as the electronic media converge.

There are an estimated ten thousand broadcast journalists working in Britain, with about thirty thousand more studying media or journalism at any one time. Overseas, there are countless thousands more writing in the English language. I have yet to meet one who admits to being a poor writer. But inaccuracies, confusing usage and newspaper-style journalese can be heard on the airwaves every day.

All journalists in broadcasting should aspire to be among the best in their chosen profession, not merely to be competent enough to hold down a job. In any medium, it is impossible to be a great journalist without being a very good writer. So I hope this book will stimulate younger broadcast journalists to become more familiar with the English language, and encourage established reporters and news producers to reassess their own writing style. It should help . . .

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