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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Write, Rewrite, and Check

Every week we begin the day with a list of stories and a plan of the steps we need to take to cover them to the best of our abilities. So many people work on our newscast throughout the day, and the news never seems to stop developing or breaking. Copy editing and rewriting scripts is an essential job for every producer.

As the web/graphics producer this week my copy editing happened more towards the end of the day. As video producer it is impossible to check and edit every MJs script to perfection as video is waiting to be edited. I learned this week that because of this difficulty it is important for the web/graphics producer to double-check work that is being done before it goes live to air. The most effective way to copy edit is to read scripts out loud. After all, if you cannot say what is written coherently then your anchors certainly won't be able to!

It's always helpful to explain to your MJs how to write a good script based on a wire, but I've learned that another successful way of teaching newcomers broadcast writing is to have them try to figure out if a story reads well. Today, I had an MJ come up to me and ask me if a story sounded okay, and I asked him to read it out loud. Once he finished, I asked him the same question. He looked at me puzzled and said, "Wait, but that's what I'm asking you." I explained that if he came to ask me then he must have noticed something was off. I told him to trust his instincts and tell me how he would fix the copy. It was so exciting when he was able to correct the story on his own because I knew that the skills we are working on each week with our MJs are making a difference not only in our newscast, but also in everyone's performance as broadcast journalists.

As stories change and news develops it is important to go back and update scripts and social media posts. Today, we covered a car accident on campus, and as more information came in from DPS we all had to make sure that it made it into our story.

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