Wikinews:Audio Wikinews/News Briefs/Show/Script

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AudioWikinewsNewsBriefs
Script Writing




Script writing is usually a pretty straight forward affair, but there are occasions where it can become fairly intensive.

First of all, let's look at an article as it was originally published here on Wikinews:

Original article

Delta Air Lines flight 1457 departing from Atlanta made an emergency landing after it blew out a tire during take-off. The flight was destined to Portland, Oregon. There are no injuries reported at this time.

The Boeing 737-800 departed from Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport Thursday afternoon. The flight was carrying approximately 160 passengers and six crew members. Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said that the flight turned around when the flight crew noticed the blown out tire. The flight was forced to go into a holding pattern to burn off fuel for more than an hour before it landed. The 737 landed safely at around 1500 local time (2000 UTC).

Delta did not immediately return calls inquiring about the flight. After some time Delta Spokesperson Anthony Black told the Associated Press that the 160 passengers on board would be put on a future flight to Portland.

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with this article as it is written, it does not read out loud very well. First of all we have a total of three, short sentences that while they convey all the necessary information, come across as short bursts of information with no narrative flow.

Narrative flow is very important for Audio Wikinews stories but it does differ from the guidelines set out in the Wikinews Style Guide for written articles.

First of all, written articles use the inverted pyramid layout where all the relevant information is at the very top of the story so a reader can quickly get what they need without having to dig through a few sentences or paragraphs to find the most important information. However, in the Audio Wikinews, we have to remember we are putting on a show - we are not only journalists and broadcasters, but also entertainers and our show needs to be listenable. To do this, it's important to "tease" the audience a little bit to keep them listening. Keeping your listener engaged is very important because you have a captive audience. Listeners can't just quickly scan your story like they can a written story. True, they can hit the fast forward button, but that only works if they have the script and know where to jump to. Otherwise, listeners need to stay engaged with you and the best way to do that is to tease them a little to keep their attention.

In the above example, you will notice that the original story mentions that "There are no injuries reported at this time". While that is very good news (especially for the passengers of the flight), it does deflate the drama of the story. Since we now know there was no fiery wreck or carnage, why keep listening? You have to remember that everyone loves a good train wreck and most people stare at accidents on the side of the highway - human beings just naturally have a morbid curiosity, especially when it comes to big disasters.

Now, in the edited version of the story, you'll notice that I did not include the safety of the passengers in the lede, but rather just mentioned how many people were on board (which came from the second paragraph of the original story). I did this to peak the listeners interest in the human drama involved by stating the lives of nearly 200 people were in jeopardy:


Edited article

Delta Air Lines flight 1457, departing from Atlanta, made an emergency landing after it blew out a tire during take-off. The flight was carrying approximately 160 passengers and six crew members and was destined to Portland, Oregon.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said that the Boeing 737-800 turned around when the flight crew noticed the blown out tire. The flight was then forced to go into a holding pattern to burn off fuel for more than an hour before it safely landed back at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport at around 3:00pm local time with no injuries being reported at this time.

Delta did not immediately return calls inquiring about the flight, however, Delta Spokesperson Anthony Black told the Associated Press that the 160 passengers on board would be put on a future flight to Portland.

When you listen to the edited version, all you know is that there was an airplane with 166 people on board and it made an emergency landing. We do not know if everyone survived, the fate of the plane or anything ... yet. What we have done is "hook" the listener into the story and we can no be sure we have their attention.

As we move to the second paragraph of the edited story, you can see that I've moved the FAA official to the beginning of the first sentence to introduce an authority figure who is speaking on behalf of the incident. We still have no idea as to the fate of the passengers and, in fact, we may be getting a little worried that there was some major drama if we have to bring in a government official to make a statement about the event.

At this point the official first describes the events of the incident (plane turns around, has to burn off fuel for an hour) and then, finally, we learn the plane "landed safely". However, we still don't know if everyone was alright because we get the added bit of information of where the plane safely landed and at what time it landed at. At the end of the second paragraph (and, thus, near the end of the entire story), we learn everyone was alright.

By this point, the audience will not feel like the drama has been deflated (as it is in the original story), but rather they will feel relived of the dramatic tension. We can "bring down" the listener and lead them out of the story with the final bit of information about what will now happen to the passengers. This last bit of "bringing down" is like a cooling off for the audience - sort of like at the end of a movie where the hero has saved the day, all the plot holes have been tied up and he gets to stand their on camera kissing the girl he fought all film to win.

Roll credits.