Before starting on our scripting process and guidelines, this is just a brief note about communication with the Direct Inject (DI) bureau which handles your edits and/or London.
One of the most difficult jobs London has to do is keep track of what the different bureaux are all working on. At any given time clients expect us to know what is happening across our global file and we need to be able to tell them.
This means that consistent communication with London and/or your DI bureau is vital, and various systems have been put in place to help make that happen.
The information we ask for is used to form several advisories, logs and archive lists – as well as to answer the multitude of questions and requests received from clients via phone, email and the Media Express chatroom.
At times it will feel like you are repeating yourselves, but this is because different parts of the machine need access to the information at different times and in different ways. We are very aware of how busy you are, but your co-operation and adherence to the procedures is much appreciated. It is hoped that this way we can avoid bothering you with too many questions throughout the day and let you get on with what you do best.
Below are some of the situations when you must contact the intake desk of your DI bureau directly via phone, topline, RM or email (the method of contact depending on the urgency of the situation!) Hopefully this conversation will prevent you doing unnecessary work and the information you provide will assist us in being competitive for Eurovision.
BREAKING NEWS – Your intake desk needs to know as soon as possible what you are planning in relation to breaking news. The desk will be aware of what the clients are asking for and will be able to assist with ideas and decision-making. They also need to know about any live opportunities as soon as possible.
MULTI-ELEMENT STORIES – Even if a story is diaried, please have a discussion with your intake desk as to whether various elements should be sent separately, or held for a wrap. Do not just assume elements of the story should be sent as they happen.
NOT IN NEWSPLANNER - If there are stories that have not been entered into News Planner or information is missing, then please also update these directly with your intake desk. For example, the desk needs to know at what time it should expect the stories you have outlooked.
For other diaried events there is often no need for a direct conversation, but please check with your own intake desk whether this is necessary.
If you are sending your story to London, please call the Intake Producer (DNO) on 0207 542 4972 or 0207 542 4966 to let them know the story is on its way and where they will be able to find it. i.e London 1, Dirty Server etc. If appropriate you should also call the Eurovision desk on 0207 542 4299 or 0207 542 4963. If you are sending to a bureau other than London, make sure you are aware of how they like to be informed when a story is on its way. Do not just send stories without contacting your DI bureau and letting them know what is happening, otherwise the story could be lost on the way and no-one will know it has been sent. You must also check the edit has arrived safely before leaving the place from where you are filing, make sure desk editors know when to expect your shotlist and script and where it will be.
Please remember Intake Editors are extremely busy. While they would love to chat, they generally don’t have time and are being inundated with information from all angles. Please be brief and concise when speaking to them, especially by phone or topline. It will make their day easier if you just give them the vital information they need, without too much of a preamble!
Producer Script Workflow
This is a general overview of how our scripting process works. Please see the more detailed information which follows for guidelines on how to fill in templates, write shotlists, structure stories etc.
FILL IN YOUR TEMPLATE
• As soon as possible fill in the details of your template. The Direct Inject (DI) bureau handling your story will be looking for that information from a very early stage to help them with advisories, story naming, Eurovision offers etc – even before you send your video, so the earlier you have information in there the more helpful it will be. Even the headline is useful and should be included.
• Please don’t include information unless you know it is correct. i.e. do not put NATURAL WITH FRENCH SPEECH unless you are absolutely sure it is going to be French. This might sound obvious, but it is not unusual for people to do this, then later when they do the edit, decide to use English bites instead. In the meantime, decisions might have already been made on the information you have provided. i.e the London producer may have rung the Eurovision editor promising them French bites as they have seen that in your template. It is better to leave that part of the template blank if there is any doubt and then fill it in when you are sure.
• Make sure you put your initials in the CHK1 box with the letter ‘P’. That way we know that the script is in PREPARATION and is not finished.
DO YOUR SHOTLIST
• Work on your shotlist. Please save it as you go so that other bureaux can see what you are working on. Sometimes they desperately need to see the name of the first person in your soundbite, or some details of the first few shots and if you save it a few times as you are working on it, this will allow them to do so. This is especially true if you have a long shotlist or are waiting for some information before it’s complete. Give us anything you have, as soon as you have it.
• Once the shotlist is complete, spell check and then let someone in the DI bureaux know that they can take it. We send the shotlists to clients before the full script is finished, so that they have something to work with as soon as they have their video.
What if I don’t have all the information I need for the shotlist?
There are times when you might be missing a crucial piece of information for your shotlist i.e. you may be waiting for a translation of a soundbite, or need to check on the name or position of someone speaking and it’s going to take some time. In this case, do not wait to do the rest of the shotlist, do everything you can and draw attention to the missing information.
Here are two examples:
1. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN DEFENCE MINISTER, THOMAS DE MAIZIERE, SAYING:
...."TRANSLATION TO FOLLOW”
2. (SOUNDBITE)(Arabic) SHOP OWNER, (NAME TO FOLLOW), SAYING:
...."Profits were meagre and there were no demands on this industry."
Our clients are often desperate to get started on their stories, and would prefer to have incomplete information rather than having to wait for a very small part of the shotlist to be finalised. So keep the DI bureau informed. Tell them that the shotlist is as finished as it can be for now, and that you will let them know as soon as it is updated with the missing info. That way they can still send it to the clients, and then update them when it’s finished.
WRITE YOUR STORY
• Work on your story
• Spell check your story
• Double check your headline and template for accuracy as this will not be included in the standard spell check
• Change your ‘P’ to an ‘R’ (for READY). This R lets everyone know that you are happy for the script to be taken. There may be occasions when you have not been able to let your DI bureau know that the script is ready. If they see an R then they will assume it is ok for them to take it, and then they will not need to chase you to check.
• Let your DI bureau know it is ready
What if I'm not on iNEWS?
If you are working in a situation where you are not on iNEWS or if you are a stringer who does not have access to iNEWS, please follow the same procedure as best you can using email. If you are dealing directly with London the email addresses to send all script information to are: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org Please send to both as they both serve different purposes at the London end. Please do NOT send your scripts as attachments, they should be in the body of the email.
Send the template information as soon as you can in the following format, so that producers can prepare the iNEWS template at their end. Remember – they cannot send the video to the clients without this information, and that is why it is needed ASAP.
HEADLINE: Bucharest residents protest against austerity measures
LOCATIONS: BUCHAREST, ROMANIA
DATE SHOT: JUNE 27, 2013
SOUND: NATURAL WITH ROMANIAN AND ENGLISH SPEECH
SOURCE APECT: W
SOURCE DEFINITION: S
Your next email should include both the template information, intro and shotlist – as well as a note saying that the story is to follow.
The third email should have the template information, intro, shotlist, and story.
You should ALWAYS send a story unless for some reason it has been agreed with intake that you do not need to send one for that particular edit. If that is the case, please be sure to give an explanation under your shotlist as to why no script is required and who it was agreed with, otherwise producers in the bureau/London will always be expecting one and will be waiting for it.
The rest of this document will refer to iNEWS often – but please adapt the information to suit your own circumstances.
Filling in the template
Below are some important things to remember when filling in the slug box (naming your story)
Please use this format: COUNTRY-STORY NAME
Does your edit include pictures from two different places? Then this must be reflected in the country name
If the pictures from Indonesia were actually archive rather than ‘today’ or ‘recent’ pictures, then you would express this as FILE rather than INDONESIA
i.e. AUSTRALIA/FILE-GILLARD In this case the archive could come from any number of countries and you would be covered.
If your edit includes ‘today’ or ‘recent’ pictures from more than two countries, or it is two countries + File, then call your story VARIOUS-GILLARD so that the name doesn’t get out of hand.
If your edit is entirely file material (from any number of countries) then the story would simply be: FILE-GILLARD.
Putting FILE in the slug when required is not only a matter of being accurate, it also helps clients predict what kind of edit they are likely to receive. Many find it useful to be forewarned that the edit will contain archive material.
Please make sure your story name is accurate as your DI bureau will be outlooking this to clients, and the information must be as accurate as possible.
When we are dealing with material from disputed territories, we often name the place regionally, rather than by country, to avoid appearing to ‘take sides’ in our country names.
For example – GAZA, JERUSALEM, or WEST BANK rather than ISRAEL or PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
For a mix of any of the above we say: MIDEAST
If our location is an overseas territory or region of somewhere far away, we would generally go with the name of the territory/region as the slug rather than using the name of the ‘mother country’. i.e. It would be GUADELOUPE rather than FRANCE or FRANCE-GUADELOUPE in the slug, but you would need an explanation somewhere in the script that Guadeloupe is an overseas region of France.
We also use ANTARCTICA rather than the particular country which might have territorial control over the bit of Antarctica in our edit. Again, use the script to explain the circumstances of the location.
Examples of other location conventions include:
UN - For events which are filmed at the United Nations building in New York. If events are filmed at the United Nations in Geneva, we still call it SWITZERLAND
IN AIR – for shots filmed in planes that are actually flying, rather than landed at an airport
AT SEA - We use ‘AT SEA’ as the country name when the action in the video is out of sight of land. But if the video is of a ship just off the coast, where the land is visible, use the actual country name. i.e. Your location would be OFF PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND, UK, with UK as the country name for the slug.
Please use the generic AT SEA as the slug, rather than naming the particular sea where the action happens. In the shotlist, it is fine to narrow the location down further if you definitely know which sea/ocean it is. i.e. PACIFIC OCEAN or EAST CHINA SEA. If you are not sure, then leave it as AT SEA in the shotlist.
INTERNET - for websites such as facebook, blogs, a government website etc.
ANIMATION - for animated sequences
If your story is for a niche feed, it is important you write the name here, to make it clear it is not for news. Producers in DI bureux will need to put the specific news feed name i.e. WORLD, EUROPE, ASIA etc.
The headline should be short, accurate and reflect what is seen in the edit.
Sometimes the headline used by text in the wire will be ideal, sometimes it will not.
Consider this situation:
George Clooney has appeared in a court in Milan in which he testifies in a fraud case. In our edit, we see Clooney leaving the court. He does not say anything as he walks through the media pack gets into a car and drives away.
Text ran the headline: “Clooney testifies in Milan fashion fraud case”
We would not want to use this headline as it suggests to our clients that our pictures would show Clooney giving his testimony. We would need to say something like:
“Clooney departs Milan court after fraud case testimony”
Refer to a country, city or well-known figure in your headline so that a client is able to tell in which country the story is likely to be located. All of these would work:
“Baghdad bomb kills seven”
“William and Kate visit Egypt pyramids”
“Obama celebrates Congress health-care win” - In this case there is no need to say that this occurred in the U.S. as it is fairly evident by the reference to Obama and the subject matter of the headline.
There is good reason for this. When clients view a list of stories on Media Express, they can either view it by slug or by headline, but they can’t see both. As many will choose to view the stories by headline, then they will need to have an indication of where that story is from.
- Try to keep the headline down to around six words if possible
- Headlines should be written in the present tense i.e. “Cuba condemns Honduras coup” not “Cuba has condemned Honduras coup”
- Use the active voice i.e. “Pakistan earthquake kills 10” not “Ten are killed in Pakistan quake”
- Refer to the name of a country, city or well-known figure to indicate location of story
- Generally ‘subject verb object’ works well, or in other words ‘who does what’
- Don’t try to be too clever (especially on hard news scripts). Clients who have limited English may not understand a play on words, pun or double-entendre!
- We no longer put full stops at the end of our headlines
- You do not need full names for major world figures i.e. “Obama”, “Berlusconi”
- Use titles for those who are less well known i.e. “U.N. security chief criticises Israeli army report”
- Do not use times or dates unless crucial to the story
- Try to avoid clichés and weak verbs such as ‘to be’ i.e. is, am, are, was, be, being, been
- Be wary of using humour in straight news stories
Examples of good headlines:
"Greek civil servants oppose layoffs”
"Norway runs out of butter”
"Building burns in Cairo clashes”
Examples of not-so-good headlines:
"Scuffles break out between police and protesters as nuclear train gets closer to its storage destination." (Too long)
"British Prime Minister talks about latest developments in euro crisis” (Doesn’t tell us anything. What does he actually say?)
"Soyuz-TMA-02M crew wave goodbye before lift-off." (Don’t need the TMA-02M in there – it’s too much detail and too distracting)
The content of soundbites is often helpful when trying to decide on a headline.
i.e. – if one of your soundbites is the following:
9. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, DAVID CAMERON, SAYING:
...."We are in a global race today. And that means an hour of reckoning for countries like ours. Sink or swim. Do or decline."
The headline could be:
Cameron warns Britain must “sink or swim”
Double check that there are no spelling mistakes (including names of people and places) or typos before moving on. The headline is the first thing many of the clients see on Media Express, so you must be sure you have it right. If you have any doubts, ask a fellow producer or the Sub.
Leave the INTRO field blank in the template
This is the date the story is being transmitted, i.e. ‘today’s’ date. It should be written as three letters and two numbers with no spaces.
i.e. MAR01, APR15 or NOV12
If this is not done correctly, the script may not process correctly through the system.
NOTE: This is the ONLY place in which a zero is used as part of a single digit date – i.e. MAR01. In all other places in the template, shotlist and script, single digit dates would not contain a zero.
i.e. it would be MARCH 1, 2013 rather than MARCH 01, 2013
Must be written like this: 2:03 or 3:15. You need to use a colon between the minutes and seconds otherwise it will not accept it. It is very helpful for you DI bureau if you include a duration. That way, when they receive the video, they can be sure all the material has arrived safely. It also helps them decide if your story could be wrapped with something else, and with Eurovision offers.
If you are writing the original script then put in your own initials. While you are working on the script, you should put a ‘P’ next to your initials. When you have finished, you should put an ‘R’. So it would be something like: SB-P or SB-R.
Please keep in mind that if there is an ‘R’ in the template, your DI bureau will assume it is ready for the taking. Be absolutely sure you are ready for them to take the script before putting an ‘R’. If someone else worked on the script before you, put their initials in CHK1 and your initials in CHK2.
PLEASE NOTE: It is important to include your initials. If a problem is raised with the script, even several months down the track, we need to be able to see who worked on it – from beginning to end.
Ignore this field
Ignore this field
Write in upper case the location(s) where the story was shot. This will invariably be a town/city and country.
Example: PARIS, FRANCE.
If there is more than one town/city, the style is PARIS, LYON AND TOULOUSE, FRANCE.
There may be multiple country locations, if so separate them with a slash.
Example: PARIS, LYON AND TOULOUSE, FRANCE/ SAN FRANCSICO, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES.
It’s important that the locations are clear to clients and this may mean using the geographical region, state or province that the town/city is located in as well.
Example: MYSORE, KARNATAKA, INDIA.
Ignore this box
This will be pre-populated with 0:05. Leave as is.
This will be pre-populated with B. Leave as is.
KEY FRAME Field
This will be pre-populated with 0:05. Leave as is.
This is where we make clear what aspect ratio the video in the edit has been filmed in.
The default is ‘W’ (wide) which refers to 16:9 video – our standard aspect ratio.
If your edit is actually all converted 4:3 material (where the video has been converted and has black lines down the sides) then you would change this to a ‘P’ (pillarboxed).
If your edit has a mixture of both, then put ‘M’ (mixed).
Enter ‘H’ if the original source content is entirely HD, ‘S’ if all content is entirely SD or ‘M’ if it is mixed.
These boxes must be ticked if your edit contains graphic material, nudity or profanity. Tick any that apply to your edit by clicking in the boxes.
Ignore this field.
Ignore this field.
Ignore this field.
This is for the dates on which your video is shot. It reflects the way the dates appear on the slate for your edit.
Write dates in uppercase in this exact manner. MAY 18, 2013 or FEBRUARY 15, 2013
If the edit contains material from more than one date, then use a separate box for each date, with the most recent date first.
If your edit contains video which is RECENT from more than one date, just put RECENT in one of the boxes, rather than all of the exact dates.
If your edit contains FILE from one or more dates, just put FILE in one of the boxes, rather than the exact dates.
Have a look at the template example at the beginning of this section to see how the date fields might look.
Always use the following style: NATURAL WITH ENGLISH SPEECH
Do you have more than one language? NATURAL WITH FRENCH AND RUSSIAN SPEECH
Have we uppicked the pictures from another broadcaster? If so we may have commentary or narration. Commentary usually accompanies a live event or sports broadcast. Write NATURAL WITH ENGLISH SPEECH AND RUSSIAN COMMENTARY
Is the edit from a reporter’s package? If so write NATURAL WITH FARSI NARRATION
Your edit may be a combination of all three. i.e. NATURAL WITH ENGLISH SPEECH, FRENCH NARRATION AND FARSI COMMENTARY.
If your edit has no audio, write MUTE
If part of your edit has no audio, use NATURAL WITH ENGLISH SPEECH/PART MUTE
Note also that the language you refer to is correct. Our most common errors are CHINESE (instead of MANDARIN/CANTONESE) and IRANIAN (instead of FARSI)
We often use video uppicked under contract from other broadcasters, agencies or independent providers and must attribute those pictures as such. Our own video must always be stated as REUTERS, not RTV, RVN, or any other acronym. If your edit contains material from different sources you would write it like this:
Ignore this field.
This is just below the template, but must be filled in as soon as possible.
The following will appear automatically on your script
TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~** **~
You need to fill in the space between the stars with the restrictions. To check restrictions for particular broadcasters, go to INTAKE.UPPICKS.RESTRICTIONS in iNEWS and search by country. It is essential that restrictions on scripts are correct. It is also important that the stars and squiggly lines etc remain, because if they are removed it can stop the script from going through the system. If there are no restrictions it would be:
TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~**NONE**~
If it is Sky Italia material, for example, it would be:
TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~**NO ACCESS ITALY AND .IT WEBSITES**~
If only some of the edit is Sky Italia and the rest is Reuters, it would be:
TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~**PART NO ACCESS ITALY AND .IT WEBSITES**~
If we have material from both Sky Italia and NBC for example, it would be:
TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~**PART NO ACCESS ITALY AND .IT WEBSITES. PART NO ACCESS USA/CNN/YAHOO/AOL/WIRELESS**~
Television scripts look like this:
TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~**NONE**~
Four are confirmed dead and 20 wounded in a car bomb attack on a marketplace in Mahmudiya.
(BN09) MAHMUDIYA, IRAQ (MARCH 29, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- SCENE OF BLAST/ CLOUDS OF BLACK SMOKE RISING FROM BURNING CARS
- FIREFIGHTERS AT SITE OF BLAST
- FIREFIGHTERS PUTTING OUT FIRE
- CARS ON FIRE/ IRAQI SOLDIERS AND FIREFIGHTERS BESIDE THE BURNING VEHICLES
- FIREFIGHTERS PUTTING OUT FIRE/ MEN TRYING TO PULL BODY FROM WRECKAGE
- MEN HELPING WOUNDED PERSON WHO IS TRYING TO WALK
- DAMAGED SHOPS/ BODY ON STRETCHER BEING TAKEN AWAY FROM BLAST SITE
- CROWD AND IRAQI SOLDIERS AT SITE OF ATTACK
- (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) GOVERNOR OF MAHMUDIYA, MOUAYAD MOHAMMED SALEH, SAYING: "A car bomb exploded near a parking lot, killing five people and a wounding number of civilians. The blast also wrecked ten vehicles and damaged six shops. It is a criminal act that targeted the innocent and unarmed people."
- U.S. SOLDIERS TREATING WOUNDED MAN
- SITE OF BLAST/ FIRE ENGINES
- MORE OF U.S. SOLDIERS AT SITE OF ATTACK
- INTERIOR OF HOSPITAL/ WOUNDED MEN LYING ON BEDS
- WOUNDED MEN LYING ON HOSPITAL BEDS
- WOUNDED MAN WITH BLOODY CLOTHES BEING LED TO HOSPITAL WARD
- MEN SWEEPING BLOOD FROM AMBULANCE
- VARIOUS OF WOMAN CRYING AND SHOUTING WITH GRIEF
A car bomb exploded south of Baghdad on Thursday (March 29), killing four people and wounding 20 others, police said.
Authorities said that the attack took place in a parking lot in the town of al-Mahmudiya, 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of Baghdad, in one of the danger areas known as the triangle of death.
The Governor of Mahumudiya, Mouayad Mohammed Saleh, visited the site of blast.
“It is a criminal act that targeted the innocent and unarmed people," Saleh said.
The wounded were taken to local hospital for treatment.
There has been a sharp upsurge in violence in recent days outside Baghdad, epicentre of the communal bloodshed, where thousands of U.S. and Iraqi security forces are focusing their efforts to halt a slide to full-scale civil war.
Our scripts are written into a basic template created by the producer in the relevant I-news scripts queue.
The script is composed of several distinct sections. The data block, which comprises the information in the box template, the headline and intro and shotlist, and the main body of the script, the story.
Template and Data Block
The script template is used to trigger the pictures client receive via the digital delivery system, WNE (WORLD NEWS EXPRESS). Until the script is ‘sent’, clients cannot access the video they want. It is therefore imperative that script templates are sent as soon as the pictures have been edited and approved by the output editor for transmission.
The boxes in the upper portion of the script template contain the basic information that forms the data block in the script that clients receive, and must be filled in correctly.
Completion of the Template Boxes
- NO: The number assigned to your story must correlate exactly with the edit. This number acts as a key. If it is incorrect in the template it will not allow clients to open the pictures. It is therefore vital that the edit number and story number match.
- FEED: The correct name of the feed must be inserted here. For example WORLD2, BREAKING08, BREAKING12.
- COUNTRY: Must be correct!
- NAME: This is the slug we have given the story. The shorter and simpler the slug the better. Slugs with more than one word increase the chances of mistakes being made. The slug must correlate exactly to the edit title.
- FDATE: This is the date the story is fed to clients, NOT the date the pictures are shot. It is written as three characters and two numerals, compressed. Examples: JAN01, FEB10, MAR07, APR09, MAY21, JUN01, JUL31, AUG10, SEP14, OCT03, NOV19, DEC25
- DUR: The duration of your story must be written thus: 2:03. Use a colon between minutes and seconds and time the story from first to last frames of images. Do not include the seven second slate in the final duration.
- PROD: The initials of the person in London who has produced or turned around the story.
- WRITER: The initials of the person in London who has produced the story. If the story is a simple turnaround or direct inject from a bureau, it is acceptable to write the bureau initials (example ROM, MOS, JRS), but if the script needs a significant rewrite the London producer must insert their own initials. Initials must be followed by a hyphen and the letter ‘P’ or ‘R’, indicating to the chief sub if the story is being prepped (P), or ready for subbing (R).
- CHK: The initials of the chief sub or second producer who has checked the story.
- TXD: Once the story is subbed and sent, the sub will insert the initials of feed on which the story ran. If a template only has been sent, the initial ‘T’ should be inserted in this column.
- LOCATIONS: Write in upper case the location/s where the story was shot. This will invariably be a town/city and country. Example: PARIS, FRANCE. If there is more than one town/city, the style is PARIS, LYON AND TOULOUSE, FRANCE. There may be multiple country locations, if so separate them with a slash. Example: PARIS, LYON AND TOULOUSE, FRANCE/ SAN FRANCSICO, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES. It’s important that the locations are clear to clients and this may mean using the geographical region, state or province that the town/city is located in as well. Example: MYSORE, KARNATAKA, INDIA. Do make sure you follow the Reuters style when referring to countries. Example, LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM, not, LONDON, BRITAIN. Also remember the UNITED NATIONS is just that, not UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES.
- DATES: Write dates in upper case as follows. MAY 18, 2005. DO NOT compress dates – this is an old style that is no longer required. With multiple dates write them in separate date boxes.
- SOUND: Always use this style. NATURAL WITH ENGLISH SPEECH. More than one language? NATURAL WITH FRENCH AND RUSSIAN SPEECH. Have we uppicked the pictures from another broadcaster? If so we may have commentary or narration. COMMENTARY usually accompanies a live event or sports broadcast. Write NATURAL WITH ENGLISH SPEECH AND RUSSIAN COMMENTARY. Is the edit a reporter’s package? If so write NATURAL WITH FARSI NARRATION. Your edit may be combination of all three, NATURAL WITH ENGLISH SPEECH, FRENCH NARRATION AND FARSI COMMENTARY. If part of your edit has no audio, use NATURAL WITH ENGLISH SPEECH/PART MUTE. Note also that the language you refer to is correct. Our most common errors are CHINESE (instead of MANDARIN/CANTONESE) and IRANIAN (instead of FARSI)
- SOURCE: We cannot make mistakes with sourcing. We often use video uppicked under contract from other broadcasters, agencies and freelance camera crews and must attribute those pictures as such. Our own video must always be stated as REUTERS, not RTV, RVN, or other acronym. Separate multi-source edits examples as follows. REUTERS/ NBC/ ITN/ ANI. Restrictions usually apply to others’ material and we must clearly state them within the script and shotlist.
- HISTORY: This tells clients which feeds the story has already run on. The implementation of WNE means the feed history may become redundant in the near future but meanwhile London producers must continue to fill this in until further notice. The style is this. If the story has run on Breaking news 01, write BN01 followed by the GMT time of the feed, thus BN01 (0045GMT). If the story is then repeated on World 1, write BN01 (0045GMT)/ W1 (0330GMT). If the story is then used as part of a wrap for World 2, write PART BN01 (0045GMT), PART W1 (0330GMT)/ W2 (0800GMT).
- HEADLINE: This must be filled in when the template is sent to trigger video delivery. For writing headlines see the specific guidelines in this section.
- RESTRICTIONS: These will automatically appear as TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS just below the template boxes in the body of the script. Restrictions must be correct and up to date. If you are not sure check the INTAKE.UPPICKS.RESTRICTIONS queue. The restriction must appear between the ~**...**~ CHARACTERS.
Once the script is sent the template converts into the script format that clients see. You can see the different format in the ‘txchk’ queue of any feed queue, for example, output.world1.txchk.
Example of a single location shotlist
(W2) MOSCOW, RUSSIA (MAY 18, 2005) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
1. PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE COURT ENTRANCE
2. POLICE ON GUARD
3. JOURNALISTS WAITING
4.(SOUNDBITE)(English) MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY'S LAWYER, ROBERT AMSTERDAM, SAYING: "What we are seeing is not a weighing of the evidence, we are seeing a mechanistic repetition of the procuracy's case. Again, we've continuously said that it isn't Khodorkovsky on trial, it’s Russia on trial and unfortunately, I think the verdict on Russia is coming out exactly as we've expected."
5. FATHER OF MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY, BORIS KHODORKOVSKY, SMOKING OUTSIDE COURT ENTRANCE
6. CLOSE UP OF POLICEMAN
7. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY'S LAWYER,YURI SHMIDT, SAYING: "It's not a verdict, it’s an act of savagery. I can't call it differently."
9. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY'S LAWYER, YURI SHMIDT, SAYING: "I don't know what the sentence will be, because it will be decided not in this court, but in another place. And what orders this other court will get - I don't know."
When writing a shotlist from scratch, the first line will give feed history (London producers only), location, date the pictures are shot and the source.
(W2) MOSCOW, RUSSIA (MAY 18, 2005) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
Each shot should be listed clearly and consecutively. Describe the action happening within the shot, NOT the shot size. This is far more useful to clients who often look first to our shotlists to identify the pictures they want to use. Don’t use the word ‘cutaway’ or the phrase ‘General Views’ – tell clients what the picture is.
There is no need to always draw attention to specific shot sizes such as medium, medium close-up, etc. However, sometimes it is helpful to draw attention to a close up. There is no need to use the words ‘view’ or ‘shot’.
Avoid this type of Shotlist
- WIDE OF VENUE – this raises more questions than it answers – is it an exterior, what is the venue, is there anyone outside it?
- CLOSEUP – of what? the venue, a person ?
- CUTAWAY – of what?
Use Description and Detail
Summarise the content of each shot, being as specific as you can. Similar shots can be grouped together.
- VARIOUS OF REFUGEES CROSSING THE BORDER
But refer in detail to any specific shots of interest:
- WOMAN CARRYING CRYING BABY
- MAN WIPING BLOOD FROM A HEAD WOUND.
Highlight any significant change of content:
- REFUGEES WALKING ALONG ROAD
- REFUGEES SITTING UNDER SHELTERS
Soundbites in Shotlists
This is our style: Full title followed by full name, saying:
- (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR SAYING: “Start the transcription of the soundbite on the next line and indent the quotation marks by four spaces.”
Transcripts of soundbites must be full and exact. Never paraphrase unless a complete translation is unavailable. If this is the case we must make this clear to clients. If we are using another source’s translation, for example, a European Commission translation, then again this must be made clear to the clients.
Include titles, first names and surnames on the FIRST mention only in the shotlist (then revert to surname) and on EVERY soundbite from that person.
With multi-source edits, when the feed, location, date, source or restriction changes, it must be clearly identified. Example:
(BN09) LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (MAY 4, 2006) (REUTERS – ACCESS ALL)
- BRITISH PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR LEAVING 10 DOWNING STREET
(EU) BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (MAY 4, 2006) (ECTV – ACCESS ALL)
- CAR CARRYING BLAIR ARRIVING AT EUROPEAN COMMISSION BUILDING
- BLAIR GETTING OUT OF CAR
What is our name?
Our name is REUTERS (not RTN, RTV or RVN) for the source line and in the shotlist.
When there are no restrictions – the restriction line should read: ‘NONE’ (not NIL) and the shotlist should read: ‘REUTERS – ACCESS ALL’. When there are restrictions – the restriction line and the shotlist should read: ‘NO ACCESS ………….’ (not NO USE ………..’).
The Story - Getting Started
Writing the story starts with our edit. The thought-process for any producer should be to decide what the story is, edit the pictures in a way that best tells that story, then write a script to accompany the pictures and get it out to clients in sufficient time to be useful to them when viewed in conjunction with the edit.
Our script is not intended to be a voice-over but it should explain our edit and provide all the information our clients need to produce their own packages. It should answer the ‘W’ questions – who, what, when, where, why, and how, so they have enough information to tell the story without having to embark on extensive research to make sense of the pictures we have sent them. The story should also have enough contextual information to answer the “so what?” or “why should we care?” questions that clients will be asking before they broadcast our pictures.
Crafting the Story
Our scripts and edits should have an assertive and informative opening sentence and a visually strong first shot which signals the story to come.
The first sentence or paragraph of your script HAS to engage the client's attention and set the mood of the story. It should raise an expectation that it will be worth the client's while to read on.
The first paragraph should never be a repeat or rehash of the headline in the template, or following intro. It's the starting point of telling the story which follows and should encompass our story with the main news points. From there, you should ideally aim to explain the three to five main elements of your script, each of which can be proved visually and then build-up to writing a strong closing sentence. Correspondingly, the final shot of an edit should also be one which stays in the mind, where possible.
Write to Pictures
The main point to get across is that, in television, we must write about the story that is being told by our pictures, not necessarily the one being told by our text colleagues in the most recent wire story.
Use the wires as a source of information, NOT as a script. If we have pictures of refugees and the wires have a story about the political developments then we must write about refugees and only refer briefly to the politics to put our pictures into context. So, don’t overwrite or simply copy the wire story and call it a script.
We must be able to explain all the pictures in the edit. If we have included pictures in our edit and can’t think of anything to say about them then how are our clients going to manage? We should therefore decide if those pictures are relevant to the story and whether or not they should be in the edit.
Make Every Word Count
We should write a short, clear script which gives clients something they can’t glean for themselves from the pictures. We should challenge every word we use to make sure it is the strongest and most appropriate one, the word which carries most weight.
Our scripts should be clear and fluent and create a visual idea of what is going on. Most of the drama will be carried by the pictures, but we can vividly describe those pictures within our stories with ‘colour’ that bring the words to life.
Ensure your writing is taut and factual and don’t overload it with ‘purple prose’ and the excessive use of adjectives. We must always avoid emotive terms and adjectival writing. Use verbs which are powerful and active to propel the story forwards and enhance the flow of our scripts.
We should avoid redundant words and cliches which have become devalued by too much repetition. We should always be striving to find another way of saying something, if we are to prevent ourselves from falling back on jargon.
Match the Edit Sequence
Not only should the content of the script match the pictures, but the order of the script should match the sequence of the edit. It is not acceptable to write a script including quotes in a sequence which does not match the order in which the same soundbites appear in the edit. This will confuse our clients.
Direct quotes MUST NOT appear in scripts if we don’t have the corresponding soundbite in our edit. If we need to refer to a quote that we don’t have in pictures, then paraphrase. And if we do have a soundbite then the contents of it should appear in the script, preferably in direct speech.
Unless our story is a feature that demands a lot of context, we don’t need to give too much background. One or two paragraphs should be enough. Even better weave the background through the main body of the script, giving additional information whilst telling the story. This also keeps the story active and propels it forward.
Do not editorialise within the script. In keeping with Reuters trust principles, we must be impartial and seen to be objective. Clients are not interested in our opinions, just our pictures and accurate reporting of the facts. They must be able to rely on what we write or our credibility is lost.
Avoid the use of words with leading meanings or that cast doubt on what someone says. For example: when quoting someone, always use ‘said’ or ‘told’. Using words such as ‘claimed’ or asserted’ casts doubt on what they say.
Different stories demand different lengths. A one-run breaking story may only require one of two paragraphs, but will then need updating and fleshing out with more detail as it develops through the day. An average story of, for example, arrivals at a summit should only require a maximum of four or five paragraphs, including any background. A bomb in Baghdad may only need one or two paragraphs, with a wrap of the day’s violence in Iraq needing five or six. On the other hand, two paragraphs of script for a 4.00 edit are clearly insufficient.
Wraps of political stories that include soundbites and more background will need at least five or six paragraphs, but a single soundbite from one politician earlier in the day which is one element of the story will require a maximum of three paragraphs.
Features and backgrounders ahead of major news events need more writing but every word must justify its place.
Accuracy, Spelling and Grammar
Check, check and recheck your facts and figures. Reuters cannot be compromised by a lack of attention to basic facts and journalistic detail. Names, titles, dates, locations are all easy to get wrong. We must be consistent with our style and our spellings and appear unprofessional to clients if we cannot get this right.
Refer to the Handbook of Reuters Journalism if in any doubt about how we refer to a country which may be subject to territorial disputes, the way we spell certain words or grammatical queries. See also the separate section on accuracy for further detail.
The swift delivery of our scripts is crucial. No video can be accessed by clients without a script and so the most beautifully crafted script is useless if it arrives late. Bureaux must get all scripts to London within 20 minutes of feeding the video, if not before.
We still get regular complaints about late scripts and World News Express (WNE) requires a script to trigger the delivery of the video. Bureaux must get a completed script template including Locations, Dates, Source, Restrictions and a tight headline to London before feeding video or within 5 minutes of the feed. We should aim to send full scripts and shotlists to clients within 15 minutes of the end of the outgoing feed from London.
Once we have our edit and shotlist, we have enough to give our clients a preliminary script. We can send a script with the following Editor’s note below the restrictions line.
EDITORS: SHOTLIST ONLY, FULL SCRIPT FOLLOWS SHORTLY
This is particularly important for Flash scripts. We work very hard to transmit video to clients as quickly as possible and then sometimes spoil it by making them wait more than an hour for the information that enables them to actually broadcast the video.
Translations and Scripts
If your script is lacking a full translation or transcription of a soundbite, we can still send it to clients with an Editors note:
EDITORS NOTE: SCRIPT WITHOUT TRANSLATIONS. FULL TRANSCRIPTS WILL FOLLOW AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
The full translation or transcription must then be sent as soon as you have received and checked it.
Transcripts of soundbites must be full and exact. Always check the soundbite in the story thoroughly against the edit. Never paraphrase unless a complete translation is unavailable. If this is the case we must make this clear to clients. If we are using another source’s translation, for example, a European Commission translation, then this must be made clear to the clients.
If we make errors in our scripts, we should correct them promptly and resend the amended version to clients with an Editor’s note advising them of the error, where it occurred and how we have corrected it.
- Scripts must match the pictures. Write about the story being told in our pictures, not necessarily the one on our wires. If we see U.S. President George W. Bush arriving at the beginning of the edit then the script must begin with a reference to his arrival.
- Pictures and soundbites should be referred to in the script in the order in which they appear in the edit.
- Use the wires as a source of information, not as a script.
- Don’t just describe the pictures in the script, add something of value and put them in context.
- The script and shotlist should explain our edit and answer clients’ questions.
- Direct quotes should not appear in scripts if we don’t have the corresponding soundbite in our edit.
- If we do have a soundbite then the contents of it should appear in the script, ideally in direct speech. But not every soundbite must be repeated - paraphrase as necessary.
- A full transcription of every soundbite must appear in the shotlist.
- Dates and times should be in the story rather than the headline.
- Don’t include lots of background – just enough to make the story make sense and put it in context.
- Our scripts are not intended to be voice-over scripts, but they must explain our edit and be capable of being turned into a voice-over.
- The shotlist is there to describe the pictures so clients can identify shots of interest.
- Our scripts should be brief and clear. A reasonable average length for a script is 14-16 lines (3-5 paragraphs), unless the story is a complex one.
- Don’t overwrite, but write enough to enable clients to write a voice-over – two paragraphs for a 5:00 edit is not enough, but three pages of script for 30 seconds of video is nonsensical.
- Stories are usually best told chronologically, but not always, so don’t be afraid to lead with the best pictures (as long as you write the script that way!).
- You should be editing the pictures in a way that best tells the story so write the script the same way.
- The headline should be a single sentence summarising the story, not longer than 50 characters.
- The Intro must encapsulate our story. Write them in the present tense.
- Scripts should be written in the simple past tense. Never use the terms today, yesterday or tomorrow. We are a 24-hour news agency serving many different time zones.
- The first paragraph of the story MUST NOT repeat the headline or Intro.
- When days are referred to in the script, then a date should appear in brackets, e.g. on Thursday (April 8), on the first mention. Thereafter ‘on Thursday’ alone is fine
- Full names and titles (title first) must be included on first mention in both script and shotlist. Reference to surname only thereafter EXCEPT in soundbites which must use full name and title for every quote.
- All video must have its essential information in script form (a completed script template) sent at the same time.
- All scripts should be in London no later than 20 minutes after the video. If that can’t be done, for whatever reason, then a completed script template must be in London within 5 minutes of the incoming feed.
- All scripts must be sent out to clients as soon as the video is registered to the server. If this can’t be achieved then a script template containing the datablock must be sent immediately and a full script sent within 15 minutes of the end of the feed.
- When shotlists only are sent out they should be marked: SHOTLIST ONLY. FULL SCRIPT TO FOLLOW. This should be written at the top of the script after the Restrictions and above the shotlist.
As with text, accuracy must never be sacrificed for speed. Double check facts, figures, names, dates and spellings, and watch for typographical errors. The story must be fair and balanced and sourced correctly. Always assume your eyes are the last to see the script and no one else is going to correct it for you.
Who are we writing for?
We write for broadcasters the world over, but our scripts also appear online and will reach a wider audience than ever. All our clients will use our scripts in different ways. Whilst some stories will appeal to more specialist areas (example financial markets) they still need to be written clearly in easily understood English with technical terms explained and the significance of the story made clear by context.
- It should be CLEAR - easy to read, specific, rather than general, and logical. Clients should be able to understand it on the first read.
- It should be CONCISE - there should be no unnecessary information. Use short words and short sentences. All words must justify their inclusion.
- It should be CORRECT, of course. CHECK, CHECK AND CHECK again all spellings of names, places, figures, distances and facts. Good sourcing is imperative.
- It should be COMPREHENSIBLE - understandable, providing clear answers to the basics of who, what, when, where and why.
- It should be CONSIDERATE – Do not use jargon, slang or colloquialisms, but write in simple fluent English, not pompous or verbose.
- The headline and Intro should already have given the client a ‘tease’ or lead-in. The story follows on from this but should not be a continuance of the intro. Don’t use the first paragraph of your story as the intro (see headlines and intros for further guidance).
Use your pictures as a guide to writing the script. The story sequence should be the same in both.
The “inverted pyramid” method orders all the elements of the story in declining order of importance. Answers to all the basic journalistic questions should be clear to the reader from the first two paragraphs. Remember the Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? and So What
Some clients may only use the first two paragraphs of our story so all the essentials should be there - don’t bury the lead in the last paragraph. The story should be written so that it is self contained no matter where the reader stops or a sub-editor makes the cut.
The script must answer the ‘so what?’ question. Have you given context so that the reader can understand the significance of the story? One paragraph should be enough. Even better is to weave in the background throughout the story rather than tagging it on as an afterthought.
Does the script say what it’s meant to say? Is it clear and unambiguous? Is it balanced, fair and neutral? Use simple clear language in the active voice rather than passive.
Omit needless words. Examples: “21 ‘different’ countries” (why do you need the different); “that” can often be dropped (“He said ‘that’…”); “The prime minister met ‘with’” (the ‘with’ is redundant). Use short words instead of long (“about” instead of “approximately”). Add detail using nouns and verbs rather than over-do the adjectives.
Further tips for good story writing
Tell me something I didn’t already know All our stories and pictures should be telling clients something new. A new fact, angle, interpretation, reaction, whether in politics, economics, life! showbiz and from whatever region.
Get the first two paragraphs right The first two paragraphs are crucial. Tell the reader immediately what has happened and why it’s important. If you haven’t told the story in the first two paragraphs it’s too late. Broadcasters want to know the nub of the story after they have been grabbed by the pictures and headline without having to search through reams of writing. An online service may just use the first two paragraphs on its main page. The lead, or first paragraph, is the key. If you get the lead right, the rest will follow.
Ten key words approach
If you have time, this is useful tip from text. Try making a list of 10 key words without which you simply could not write the story. They don’t have to be the exact words you will use in the story. Think more of the facts or concepts which must be there. Once you have that list of keywords you have the essence of the story. Most or all should appear in the first sentence. All should appear by the end of the second paragraph.
Get the crucial point high in the lead Don’t bury the main news point in the middle or the end of the lead paragraph. Read your lead and count the number of words you use before you reach the one that is strong and essential. This is very often the news point. You should be hitting strong, essential words very quickly after you start to read the first sentence.
Don’t get weighed down by too many details in the lead Clients want to know what the story is. Think about what is really important for the reader to know. Could some of the detail be added further down the story – is it news or is it background? But do make sure you get the day and date into the first paragraph and a location indicator – city or country.
Use soundbites to support the story Soundbites add colour and strength to your story and they prove you have spoken to someone who knows what happened. Try to use the soundbites by the third or fourth paragraph of the story, echoing the structure of your edit. We must transcribe soundbites in full for the shotlist, but they can be ‘cherry-picked’ when writing the story.
People rarely speak eloquently or succinctly. They do not order their facts in a way a journalist would. So better to use one or two shorter soundbites than several long ones. Make sure the soundbite pushes the story forward. (See separate guidance on use of soundbites).
Leave clients to make an interpretation. When using indirect (or reported) speech instead of direct quotes, sources either say something or they don’t. Innuendo is rarely acceptable in news reporting. You should never guess at what a source means. To write in a news story that someone hinted, implied, indicated, suggested, or signalled is to interpret someone’s actions, words, or thoughts. This is not acceptable for a news agency and leaves us open to accusations of bias. Leave that to our clients if they want to
By definition, a ‘soundbite’ is a short piece of a longer interview or speech, usually one answer or part of an answer.
A criticism clients sometimes make is that our soundbites are poorly transcribed. This reflects badly on our accuracy and we must strive to ensure that we transcribe exactly what a person has said, verbatim. There is no excuse not to get this right.
Transcribe a soundbite the way it was spoken, even if in places it seems ungrammatical. Not everyone speaks in perfect sentences in real life! But please don’t ignore using grammar and punctuation to make clear what the speaker is saying. Even if the speaker hasn’t left any natural pauses in his/her speech, the client has to make sense of the soundbite and we can help by providing appropriate punctuation.
If the sense is truly lost because an interviewee may not know a word, if he/she stumbles over a word or a phrase, mumbles or repeats himself/herself, then we should question whether to use it at all.
It’s important that we don’t interpret what is said by the speaker. Report the soundbite as it is spoken and please don’t add words you may think are missing in parantheses. If we need to clarify what the speaker is saying, explain it in the main body of the script.
On occasion it may be difficult to quickly provide a long verbatim transcription of a soundbite, for example, of a lengthy soundbite from a longer speech made by a politician. In this instance it is better to paraphrase as accurately as possible what the speaker is saying as long as you state in the shotlist that it IS a paraphrase and not a verbatim transcription. A full transcription of the soundbite should follow.
It's often asked: "In which language should soundbites be requested from interviewees?"
The simple answer is - we should record soundbites in the language in which the interviewee feels most comfortable and in which he/she will give the best quote. We should be aiming to get the best possible quote and that is not possible if someone if struggling with a foreign language. Normally, this will mean that people speak in their native tongue. However, people who are genuinely multi-lingual pose a more complex dilemma, one which can only really be resolved on a case-by-case basis.
As a general guide, begin by asking yourself whether allowing the interviewee to speak in his or her native tongue would cause a problem to a significant number of our clients, rendering the soundbite unusable. Normally, if the interviewee speaks English, French, Spanish, German or Arabic as their native language, the answer would be ‘No’ and you can happily record the interview in one of those languages.
If you consider the speaker’s native tongue is not widely spoken around the world, for example, Greek or Dutch, then see if you can do the interview in another language which would make the comment more universally usable, without reducing the quality of the comment. If the interviewee feels confident to speak English, French, Spanish, German or Arabic, rather than their native tongue, then this is worth considering. If not, then they should speak in their native language. Again take your cue from the speaker and what they are most comfortable with.
Another factor to bear in mind when determining the language used by people who are fluent in more than one, is to consider which group of broadcasters is looking for us to provide this soundbite and in which language they would prefer it. This will be influenced by factors such as whether the interviewee is speaking in his/her home country (most of the local broadcasters could be expected to already have the comment), or whether he/she is speaking about a national or international issue.
If in doubt, check in advance with your Regional News Editor. If you don’t have time to take advice, then allow people to speak their native language rather than trying to get them to speak in a foreign tongue which would compromise the quality of the comment. But whatever language is chosen please ensure a FULL transcription in English is given in the shotlist.
Soundbites in Shotlists
We should make it as easy as possible for clients to locate the soundbites in our shotlists. For this reason, we should indent them by FOUR SPACES as follows:
(W2) HAINAN, CHINA (APRIL 9, 2005) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
5. BRIGADIER GENERAL NEAL SEALOCK AT BREAKFAST
6. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRIGADIER GENERAL NEAL SEALOCK SAYING: "This morning, our desire remains the same. Our request is for unfettered access to the crew on a daily basis and, in fact, twice a day. Our purpose for that is to continue to monitor the treatment of the crew and to continue to observe what has taken place."
There should be BRACKETS around the (SOUNDBITE) and around the language (Portuguese) (Creole) (Kiswahili) etc
The full name and title of the person speaking should be written out IN FULL for the soundbite EACH TIME he or she speaks, rather than using a surname or any other abbreviation the second, third or fourth time.
In the main script we should introduce the speaker first, even paraphrase what he will be talking about, write out the selected verbatim quote of what he says, then say he said it.
Chirac said Germany, France and Poland agreed that the need for EU budget discipline and fairness to the EU's 10 new members meant that it was time to think again.
"We concluded that to be able to incorporate all these demands on the budget, we need to have a fairer financing of the European budget... which would incontestably demand looking again at the British rebate," he said.
It's worth noting that there is no need to reproduce in the script every soundbite in the edit as a verbatim quote. In the above example, Chirac may well have gone on to make three or four more points, but you could still write a creditable script by paraphrasing those.
Choose to directly quote the more interesting soundbites, not the weaker ones. Don't use any quote not included in the story. But, if you see a quote running in a Text story, but don't have it in your edit (it may not have been said on camera), and think it essential to our clients understanding of the story, find a way to paraphrase it in the script instead.
Direct quotes should only appear in scripts if we have the corresponding soundbite in the edit. Use indirect speech for quotes where we do not have the corresponding video.
Attribution of quotes
Identify the source of the quote first, rather than using the quote and then adding the source. Viewers need to know who said something before they find out what was said.
Don’t write “………. according to witnesses.” Dangling the attribution at the end of the sentence is clumsy when the words are read aloud. Don’t use ‘witnesses said’ if we have the video to illustrate it.
Equally, avoid the term ‘a source’ or ‘sources said with paraphrased quotes. If we paraphrase a quote that is not on camera it must be attributable. If we have a soundbite from an unidentified source, use the term ‘UNIDENTIFIED MAN/WOMAN’ in the shotlist and make this clear in the body of the script. This is most common with ‘vox pops’.
Don’t start the story with a quote. Using a quote at the end of the story is acceptable if it acts as a ‘kicker’ – that is rounds the story off well with no need of further explanation. However caution needs to be applied if the quote could possibly be misinterpreted as editorialising. We must always maintain the principle of unbiased reportage.
It can often be difficult to choose the most newsworthy or appropriate soundbite from a long speech. You need to make sure the selected soundbites are relevant to a subject which you may know beforehand. If they are not relevant or interesting, don't use them.
If you are unsure, you can check with the Output Desk, or liaise with text. Sometimes it will be obvious if a politician makes a controversial comment, or a new policy is announced for the first time.
On other occasions, you may find yourself having to choose from three or four quotes of more or less equal news value. Liaison between London and the bureau from which the story originates can often help to clarify which one to go with - two pairs of ears are often better than one and it's less of a lonely choice! At other times, you may simply have to fall back on your own resources and use your instinct.
The choice may be made easier if there are other elements in your story which can complement the soundbite. If another person is making a similar remark about a similar subject, choose a different quote – unless of course your story is a reaction piece in which all the players respond in the same way!
Always ask yourself ‘what is my story’, ‘what is the peg that makes this story worth running’. The soundbites should always back up the story being told.
Repeats, Wraps and New Stories
In the transition period to WNE at the beginning of 2007, the following guidelines for stories were issued. These are likely to amended further when WNE comes on stream fully in July 2007, but producers should for the time being follow the guidelines below.
To clarify for clients the freshness of video, we now signal clearly which pictures are NEW, which form WRAPS and which are REPEATED from a previous feed, using the following system.
On World feeds we will still provide WRAPS or packages, for the top three or four global news stories at the time of any given World feed.
These WRAPS will be indicated before the slate and on the script template by a star symbol (\*) followed by the word WRAP:
WRAPS will include the main elements of the story - a summary - consisting of pictures already seen on previous Breaking News and World feeds. (On occasion WRAPS will include new pictures if they are b-roll and not a stand-alone story).
On Breaking News and World feeds we will offer NEW PICTURES as separate stories.
NEW PICTURES will be indicated before the slate and template by a plus symbol (+) followed by the word NEW: + NEW
Breaking News feeds will offer only NEW PICTURES.
On World feeds, NEW PICTURES will be kept separate - they will not be included in wraps, even if the new pictures relate to WRAPS of the top 3 or 4 global news stories. Many Reuters clients have indicated this will help them to find fresh pictures more easily.
On World feeds we will offer REPEATED PICTURES as separate stories or intercuts.
REPEATED PICTURES will be indicated before the slate and template by an R followed by the word REPEAT: R REPEAT
REPEATED PICTURES will have run on a previous Breaking News, but usually not on a previous World or core feed such as Asia.
Reuters scripts will now indicate whether a story is + NEW, * WRAP, or R REPEAT in the FEED HISTORY section.
When WNE is fully operational across all contributing bureaux and production areas, it is unlikely we will continue to use the new and repeat catagories, and will probably devise a new way of indicating wraps to clients that can be incorporate into the slug line.
Wrapping a Story
We often have to edit several elements of a story that have previously been aired to make a wrap. The differing strands of the story must be cut back to a length that a broadcaster can still make effective use of to create a voiced package. Some elements may become redundant as the story moves on and further news breaks. Other elements may not be available but will need to be alluded to in the script. What is important is that the clients get a comprehensive, up to date and unbiased view of events in our story when it is aired.
What is the story?
We have to carefully look at the pictures, shotlist and script and decide exactly what the story is that we are telling. Is your story picture-led or text-led? If it is text-led, how can we tell the story with the pictures we have? In some instances we might not have the pictures or soundbites that are leading the news – how then do we craft our wrap? Ask yourself many questions to establish your lead – it maybe that there is more than one important element that needs to be told. Are the politicians’ arrivals at a summit the story, or are the final summit statements the story? Is the demonstration outside the venue the most important thing about the summit, or are the reactions elsewhere the story? It may be that the wrap you are producing will not be able to neatly encompass the whole story, but will be a sequence of events that have happened so far with no resolution, yet.
As a producer, if you have any doubts of the ‘angle’ you should be taking, consult with fellow producers and senior editors on the day. Speak to the bureaux providing the stories and keep a close eye on how the story is developing on the wires, making sure you are using our most up to date facts and figures. This should help determine how you can structure the different elements available to you.
What are your pictures?
With a story that is picture-led, draw the clients into the piece by using the strongest pictures of the event. This is particularly so with events such as bombings, rioting, demonstrations. Don’t start your item with a long preamble of boring shots before the action begins – think how a client would be able to use them, or if they would use them at all. If you need to establish the location, choose the most interesting shot, don’t automatically go with a standard exterior of the venue. We need to grab the clients’ attention with our first pictures.
Some wraps cover political events – summits, parliaments, state visits, with a standard style of shooting. Again think what pictures you have and how you want to tell the story. Are the politicians’ arrivals at a summit the story, or are the final summit statements the story? Use generic shots of arrivals and roundtables as ‘b-roll’ that can give clients the time to explain the story, but don’t allow them to dominate the wrap or bury the nugget of the wrap in interminable images of formulaic handshakes. Think of how a reporter might voice the piece to get the flow of the edit going. A political piece is more than likely to rely on soundbites.
Using Soundbites in Wraps
The U.S. president resigns unexpectedly over a scandal that is about to break. Do we lead the wrap with the soundbite? The answer is no. We need to give clients lead-in time and we don’t start wraps with soundbites. We are an agency, not a broadcaster and need to provide our clients with enough pictures to lead-in to the story. A broadcaster might use part of a soundbite in its headlines to grab the viewers, but we should not. A basic and long-held rule of any edit is not to finish on a soundbite. We must always give clients a choice of how to cut our pictures and ending our wrap on a soundbite, even if it is a great ending, may not give broadcasters enough to finish their piece; however this rule can be bent for features and preview pieces. Technically there is also always the chance that a soundbite at the start or end of an edit may become ‘clipped’. If in doubt, pad it out.
We must provide enough pictures to give soundbites a context. This means the pictures should explain the story and the soundbites add colour and depth to it. We must also endeavour to make sure our use of soundbites is balanced and gives both sides of the story. However if editing a ‘reaction’-type wrap and the predominant reaction (whether voxpops or official) is from the same perspective, then it makes no sense to slant the wrap by using an opposite comment for ‘balance’. In this case the story would be consistent reaction. Further guidance on use of soundbites is included in this guide.
Should a Wrap be Chronological?
Clients rely on us providing the most up to date video we can and this can often lead the wrap. But if the events we are covering have not yet finished – for example, an international summit, the best way to tell the story would be chronologically. Again, think what is the best way to lead the edit – the pictures available to you may determine this. The timeframe of events should be clear in our shotlist and script allowing clients to make it clear in their voice-overs.
Decide on the structure of the wrap before you start editing. Build your wrap in sections and think how much space or time in the edit each element is worth. If you need to, make a list of the different elements and their order. The structure of the wrap will depend not just on the story being told but the pictures we have available.
If you have six elements to your wrap and three minutes to tell it, then each element could be weighted at 30 seconds. But some elements may need more time and some less time and it’s part of the producer’s job to make that judgement call. Don’t cut back good storytelling pictures for the sake of keeping to a notional length. If the pictures are truly worth it, they should run. Conversely don’t join two average stories of 2.00 each together and call it a 4.00 wrap. It’s not. We must endeavour to give our clients the best possible pictures in the smoothest running edit. It is not simply a matter of adding on new pictures to existing edits.
Your wrap may include different datelines. Again, decide what country or city your story is leading from and assess the importance to the story of the elements. Prioritise in a list if necessary. As the story progresses throughout the day, the lead dateline may change. Using a fictional example, a wrap of protests against a car company closing several factories in three countries across Europe would probably be picture-led, but the lead could change with an announcement from a U.S. corporation announcing their intention to buy the company and keep the factories open. In this case the lead dateline could be from the U.S., followed by the earlier protests and probable reaction from European politicians.
Writing the Wrap
As with single element stories, write your script to the pictures following the edit chronologically. The wrap shotlist and script will need to be written from scratch, using our previous stories and the wires as reference. Make sure facts and figures are the latest available and not copy-pasted from earlier scripts. Weave in detail and context once you have established the leads. Do not just copy the latest wire or last bureau script and call it your wrap.
Follow the Reuters television guidelines on story structure, sourcing, accuracy, layout, headlines and intros.
Wraps and Multi-Source Edits
Example of Multi-Location Script
TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~**NONE**~
As the EU celebrates its 50th birthday, young people see the European Union as an opportunity for travel and study but some say it needs to make more effort to heal its divisions.
(BN08) ROME, ITALY (RECENT - MARCH 12, 2007) REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- ROME'S SKYLINE SEEN FROM PARCO DE PINCIO
- PEOPLE WALKING IN PARK OVERLOOKING THE CITY
- PEOPLE WATCHING VIEW
- (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) ROBERTO MATERA, 23-YEAR-OLD STUDENT, SAYING: "(The EU) is a very positive thing. The integration of people, the single currency, the comfort of travelling without changing money, the vast amount of interesting studies, university and work projects promoting exchanges between people within the EU, these are all very positive things. I also liked the enlargement of the EU. It's a positive and expanding reality."
(BN08) LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (RECENT - MARCH 12, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- PICCADILLY CIRCUS
- ENTRANCE TO UNDERGROUND WITH SIGN READING: "UNDERGROUND", RED BUSES PASSING
- STUDENT ALEX BARROS-CURTIS TALKING WITH FRIENDS
- (SOUNDBITE) (English) ALEX BARROS-CURTIS, 20-YEAR OLD STUDENT, SAYING: "I think primarily it's been very beneficial for me to travel, holidaying and so on and so forth, but I think ultimately if we are living in a continent as we are, I think it makes much more sense if everybody is trying to work across and harmonise policies where they possibly can."
(BN08) ATHENS, GREECE (RECENT - MARCH 12, 2007) REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- GREEK PARLIAMENT BUILDING
- GREEK FLAG OVER PARLIAMENT
- (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) STEPHANOS DOUROUNTAKIS, 25-YEAR-OLD ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEER, SAYING: "We have developed a great deal in relation to what we would have done on our own. We have developed economically and culturally, and we have become modernised in general, in relation to things such as technology. We would have been more backward if we had not entered the European Union when we did."
(BN08) RIGA, LATVIA (RECENT - MARCH 9, 2007)(REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- FREEDOM MONUMENT
- VARIOUS OF GUARD OF HONOUR AT THE FREEDOM MONUMENT
- (SOUNDBITE) (Latvian) ARNIS KLEINBERGS, HISTORY STUDENT, SAYING: "Looking into the future, it [the EU] holds out hope that life here in Latvia could improve and I would have better chances to travel and see more. It opens up opportunities."
(BN08) WARSAW, POLAND (RECENT - MARCH 13, 2007) (REUTERS ACCESS ALL)
- CREST ABOVE UNIVERSITY GATES
- (SOUNDBITE) (Polish) ELIZBIETA IZDEBSKA, ART HISTORY STUDENT, SAYING: "We have been in the EU for a short time and I think things have improved, especially for young people, they have broader horizons. We can go on various student exchange programmes abroad. We can travel through Europe without any problems. We have more possibilities than before we joined the European Union."
(BN08) ROME, ITALY (RECENT - MARCH 12, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- STREET SIGN READING: "NAPOLEON SQUARE"
- (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) FELICE JUNIOR NUNZIATA, 17-YEAR-OLD FROM NAPLES, SAYING: "The EU is a stupid thing. What union are we talking about? The countries look united but are totally divided. The European Union is just a name. The divisions are so drastic that it should be called the 'European Division'."
(BN08) ATHENS, GREECE (RECENT - MARCH 12, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- GREEK FLAG OVER PARLIAMENT
- (SOUDNBITE)(Greek) CHRISTOS PARASKEVAS, PHILOLOGY STUDENT, ATHENS UNIVERSITY, 20 YEARS OLD, SAYING: "In my opinion, it has not resulted in anything positive. If countries could get more organised, more united, it would be better, but it has brought nothing but poverty and unemployment until now."
(BN08) RIGA, LATVIA (RECENT - MARCH 9, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- PEOPLE WALKING IN FRONT OF FREEDOM MONUMENT
- (SOUNDBITE) (Latvian) SABINE UPENIECE, STUDENT AT HIGH SCHOOL, SAYING: "I don't know. I think, it is not doing too good. They just promise and promise, but nothing really happens."
- SMALL CHILD WALKING LIKE SOLDIER IN FRONT OF FREEDOM MONUMENT
(BN08) ROME, ITALY (RECENT - MARCH 12, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) DENISE MARRA, 19-YEAR-OLD STUDENT, SAYING: "The Euro is a very good thing. I travel a lot and I think it's very comfortable not to have to change money. But I have some perplexity towards the entry of Slavic countries in to the union, not at all because of any racism, but because I think they are culturally very different."
(BN08) LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (RECENT - MARCH 12, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- VARIOUS OF ZAKARIYA YAHIYA, 18-YEAR-OLD STUDENT, SITTING AT TABLE OUTSIDE UNIVERSITY
- (SOUNDBITE) (English) ZAKARIYA YAHIYA, 18-YEAR OLD STUDENT, SAYING: "As a Briton I feel outside, an outsider in Europe. Say, if you go to Europe and you are an Italian then you are like 'yeah, I am still in my home town' but if you are a Briton and you go to Europe you are like 'oh I've gone to the mainland' and you don't feel at home quite as much as you would do if you were from another European country."
(BN08) PARIS, FRANCE (RECENT - MARCH 12, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- SQUARE IN SAINT MICHEL AREA, NEAR SORBONNE UNIVERSITY
- (SOUNDBITE) (French) ENDO PALAZZESCHI, STUDENT, SAYING: "Nobody, nobody really understands anything about European institutions whereas roughly, it's not that tough. Well, there are three institutions, the Commission, the European Council and the Parliament, it's not that hard but I mean, for example, nobody knows them."
- STUDENTS TALKING
- (SOUNDBITE) (French) ENDO PALAZZESCHI, STUDENT, SAYING: "And of course, when people don't know something, they won't feel attached to it."
- (SOUNDBITE)(French) AURELIEN VERGUET, STUDENT, SAYING: "But I think ultimately the biggest effort has to come from us, from each of us, so that everyone understands that we are not only part of a country but that we are part of a community of countries."
- TWO STUDENTS SINGING: "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EUROPEAN UNION" AND LAUGHING
(BN08) LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (RECENT - MARCH 12, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- YOUNG PEOPLE SITTING IN PICCADILLY CIRCUS
(BN08) PARIS, FRANCE (RECENT - MARCH 12, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- FRENCH STUDENTS SITTING ON BENCHES, EATING SANDWICHES
(BN08) WARSAW, POLAND (RECENT - MARCH 13, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- STUDENTS SITTING ON BENCH IN THE SUN
(BN08) RIGA, LATVIA (RECENT - MARCH 9, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- TWO MEN PLAYING MUSIC IN THE STREET, YOUNG GIRL GIVING THEM A COIN
Young people see the European Union as an opportunity for travel and studies but, half a century after its foundation, many of them question what being European really means.
As the 27 countries that now make up the bloc prepare to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding Treaty of Rome on March 25, Reuters met youngsters from seven countries to hear what they liked and disliked about the EU.
Open borders and a convenient shared currency were the most frequently cited benefits of European integration in the unscientific random sampling of views in Britain, France, Greece, Italy, Latvia, and Poland.
"(The EU) is a very positive thing. The integration of people, the single currency, the comfort of travelling without changing money, the vast amount of interesting studies, university and work projects promoting exchanges between people within the EU, these are all very positive things. I also liked the enlargement of the EU. It's a positive and expanding reality," said Roberto Matera, a 23-year old student speaking in Rome.
Alex Barros-Curtis, a 20-year old student in London, said: "I think primarily it's been very beneficial for me to travel, holidaying and so on and so forth, but I think ultimately if we are living in a continent as we are, I think it makes much more sense if everybody is trying to work across and harmonise policies where they possibly can."
Many youngsters believe EU membership has forced their own country to improve its standards and modernise.
"We have developed a great deal in relation to what we would have done on our own. We have developed economically and culturally, and we have become modernised in general, in relation to things such as technology. We would have been more backward if we had not entered the European Union when we did," said Stephanos Dourountakis, a 25-year old Greek engineer.
The European Economic Community became the European Union in 1992 when the Treaty of Maastricht was signed in the Netherlands. In 2004, its biggest single expansion took place, adding 10 countries, including Latvia and Poland, to the 15 existing members. Students in Riga and Warsaw hoped the EU would broaden their horizons and open up opportunities. And, for many, the EU-funded Erasmus university exchange programme proved to be one of the most tangible benefits of being an EU citizen.
"Looking into the future, it [the EU] holds out hope that life here in Latvia could improve and I would have better chances to travel and see more. It opens up opportunities," Arnis Kleinbergs, a student in Riga, said.
Elizbieta Izdebska, a student in Warsaw, said: "We have been in the EU for a short time and I think things have improved, especially for young people, they have broader horizons. We can go on various student exchange programs abroad, we can travel through Europe without any problems, we have more possibilities than before we joined the European Union.".
Some young people said they were indifferent or suspicious towards an institution they saw as being more divided than united. And a handful were downright hostile to the EU.
"The EU is a stupid thing. What union are we talking about? The countries look united but are totally divided. The European Union is just a name. The divisions are so drastic that it should be called the 'European Division'," Felice Junior Nunziata said in Rome.
In Athens, 20-year-old philology student Christos Paraskevas said: "In my opinion, it has not resulted in anything positive. If countries could get more organised, more united, it would be better, but it has brought nothing but poverty and unemployment until now."
Sabine Upeniece, a student at a grammar school in Riga, said: "They just promise and promise, but nothing really happens."
Some young people commented on difficulties caused because the EU encompassed so many member states.
"I have some perplexity towards the entry of Slavic countries in to the union, not at all because of any racism, but because I think they are culturally very different," Denise Marra, 19, said in Rome.
Zakariya Yahiya, a London student, said: "As a Briton I feel outside, an outsider in Europe. Say, if you go to Europe and you are an Italian then you are like 'yeah, I am still in my home town' but if you are a Briton and you go to Europe you are like 'oh I've gone to the mainland' and you don't feel at home quite as much as you would do if you were from another European country."
Endo Palazzeschi, a student in France which voted against a new EU constitution in 2005, said: "Nobody, nobody really understands anything about European institutions whereas roughly, it's not that tough. Well, there are three institutions, the Commission, the European Council and the Parliament, it's not that hard but I mean, for example, nobody knows them."
Aurelien Verguet, a student in Paris, added: "I think ultimately the biggest effort has to come from us, from each of us, so that everyone understands that we are not only part of a country but that we are part of a community of countries."
Co-signed by Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, the Treaty of Rome established the EEC in 1957. In 1973, the first enlargement took place when Britain, Denmark and Ireland joined the six founding countries. Greece became a member in 1981.
Example of Multi-Source, Multi-Location Script
TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~**PART NO ACCESS UK/ABC(AUST)/TVNZ/CO.UK SITES (INTERNET)**~
Police in Jamaica say Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer was strangled and they are treating his death as murder.
(W3) CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA (MARCH 23, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- MAN ARRIVING AT GATES OF HOME OF MURDERED PAKISTAN COACH BOB WOOLMER WITH FLOWERS
- MAN TALKS ON INTERCOM TO PERSON INSIDE THE HOUSE
- CLOSE-UP OF BOUQUET
- WOMAN COMES TO COLLECT FLOWERS FROM WELL-WISHER
(BN01) KINGSTON, JAMAICA (MARCH 22, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- NEWS CONFERENCE ABOUT TO START ON WOOLMER'S MURDER
- CLOSE UP OF INTERNATIONAL CRICKET COUNCIL CHIEF EXECUTIVE MALCOLM SPEED
- (SOUNDBITE) (English) DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS FOR JAMAICAN CONSTABULARY FORCE, KARL ANGELL, SAYING: "The pathologist's report states that Mr Woolmer's death was due to asphyxia due to manual strangulation. In these circumstances, the matter of Mr Woolmer's death is being treated as murder."
- ANGELL SITTING BESIDE DEPUTY POLICE COMMISSIONER MARK SHIELDS
- (SOUNDBITE) (English) DEPUTY POLICE COMMISSIONER, MARK SHIELDS, SAYING: "It would take some force because Bob was a large man and therefore it would have taken some significant force in order to subdue him and cause strangulation, but of course we do not know at this stage how many people were in the room. (REPORTER ASKS IF HE IS SAYING THERE WAS MORE THAN ONE KILLER)
"As the press statement says, yes it could be one or more people that are involved in this murder".
(W3) KINGSTON, JAMAICA (RECENT - MARCH 17, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- MURDERED PAKISTAN COACH BOB WOOLMER TALKING AT NEWS CONFERENCE
(W2) RODNEY BAY, ST LUCIA (MARCH 22, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- EXTERIOR OF THE CAT'S WHISKERS PUB
- CUSTOMERS DRINKING
- (SOUNDBITE) (English) "H", OWNER OF PUB THE CAT'S WHISKERS, SAYING: "Well, shock obviously. You wonder how can this happen? This is cricket. This is a game."
14. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ENGLISH CRICKET FAN, PETER BURNS, SAYING: "I'm shocked. Totally shocked. We all are to think that somebody could be murdered through cricket."
(BN05) MULTAN, PAKISTAN (MARCH 22, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- VARIOUS OF CANDLELIT PRAYERS BY STUDENTS AT THE BRITISH UNIVERSITY COLLEGE IN HONOUR OF WOOLMER
- STUDENTS HOLDING PLACARDS
- GIRLS PRAYING
- STUDENTS LIGHTING CANDLES
- CLOSE OF PLACARD READING "We will remember your great services for the cricket in Pakistan"
- MORE OF STUDENTS
- CLOSE OF PLACARD THAT READS "We are missing you Bob"
(BN05) KINGSTON, JAMAICA (MARCH 22, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- (SOUNDBITE) (English) JOURNALIST KARYL WALKER SAYING: "Entering the Pegasus, it takes someone with a security card to get to our floor so it has to be someone who knew Mr Woolmer who let him into his room who did this act."
(BN10) KARACHI, PAKISTAN (FILE - MARCH 1, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- PAKISTAN COACH BOB WOOLMER AND PLAYERS DISEMBARKING FROM BUS AT AIRPORT
- WOOLMER WITH PLAYERS PRACTISING
(BN10) LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (MARCH 23, 2007) (ITN - NO ACCESS UK/ABC(AUST)/TVNZ/CO.UK SITES (INTERNET)
- (SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER METROPOLITAN POLICE FLYING SQUAD COMMANDER JOHN O'CONNOR, SAYING: "Bob Woolmer wasn't immediately identified as somebody who had been strangled, has set the police back enormously because if they didn't deal with this as a murder scene at the start and seal the whole area off, make sure that nobody was in there unauthorised, make sure they kept a log going, all the things that you do to make sure that you keep the scene as pristine as possible before your forensic science experts come into the murder scene. I'm not sure it was dealt with in that way. I've heard some people being interviewed, journalists, who claim to have seen Bob Woolmer's body on the floor. One wonders who else had access."
(BN10) KARACHI, PAKISTAN (FILE - MARCH 1, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- BOB WOOLMER POSING FOR GROUP PHOTOGRAPH WITH PAKISTAN TEAM
- WOOLMER SHAKING HANDS WITH PLAYERS
- VARIOUS OF WOOLMER POSING FOR GROUP PHOTOGRAPH
(BN10) KINGSTON, JAMAICA (MARCH 17, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- PAKISTANI TEAM INTERPRETER ENTERS NEWS CONFERENCE FOLLOWED BY CAPTAIN INZAMAN-UL-HAQ AND WOOLMER
(SUBCON) NEW DELHI, INDIA (MARCH 23, 2007) (ANI - ACCESS ALL)
- (SOUNDBITE) (English) ZAHEER ABBAS, FORMER PAKISTAN CRICKET CAPTAIN, SAYING: "If police wanted to inquire something then it's okay, they have right to stop anybody. I think it's quite reasonable but in my opinion the board should have send some judges or some policemen to go and look after what is happening over there. At least they should be a part of it."
- VENKAT SUNDARAN, CRICKET ANALYST AND FORMER INDIAN CRICKET ADMINISTRATOR, SITTING
- (SOUNDBITE) (English) VENKAT SUNDARAN, CRICKET ANALYST AND FORMER INDIAN CRICKET ADMINISTRATOR, SAYING: "I think it has gone beyond ICC now. You are now entering into the realm of underworld, mafia, syndicates and things like that. So I think it needs to be addressed by an expert group who know how to handle these issues and they need to sit together and device a mean to keep this game clean."
(SUBCON) NORTHERN KANPUR, NEW DELHI (ANI - ACCESS ALL)
- BOB WOOLMER AT A PHILANTHROPY FUNCTION
Jamaican police said on Friday (March 23) that Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer, who died last weekend during the Cricket World Cup, had been strangled and his death was being investigated as murder.
At a news conference, a police spokesman quoted a pathologist's report as concluding that Woolmer's death on Sunday (March 18) was "due to asphyxiation by manual strangulation".
The 58-year-old Briton was found unconscious in his hotel room on Sunday morning and was pronounced dead later in hospital. The previous day, Pakistan were eliminated from the Cricket World Cup by debutants Ireland.
Director of Communications for the Jamaican police Karl Angell appealed for anyone with information to come forward. Deputy Police Commissioner Mark Shields said there could have been more than one killer but added that there was no evidence of forced entry into Woolmer's hotel room. He also said there was no evidence of theft but would not be drawn on the motive for the murder.
The death of Woolmer, regarded as one of the best coaches in the world, has overshadowed the World Cup in the Caribbean which lasts for seven weeks and culminates in the final on April 28.
English cricket fans on the Island of St Lucia expressed shock and sadness at Woolmer's death. Some said they could not believe someone could be murdered over a game of cricket.
Pakistani cricket fans lit candles during a prayer ceremony to pay tribute to the coach, a British national. Students at the British University College in the city of Multan gathered to pay their respects.
In Jamaica, there was condemnation and fears that the country's reputation for crime had suffered another blow, although local journalist Karyl Walker suggested initial suspicions indicated the killer or killers may not have been Jamaican and was probably known to Woolmer.
Former London police commander John O'Connor said the initial failure by the Jamaican authorities to realise that Woolmer had been strangled might adversely affect their hunt for his killer. British police have volunteered to help with the investigation and retired Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Condon is on standby to travel to Jamaica.
There was speculation that Woolmer's death might be connected to a "betting mafia" involved in match fixing. Woolmer was coach of South Africa from 1994-99, a period in which their late captain Hansie Cronje was implicated in match-fixing.
Former Indian cricket administrator Venkat Sundaran said current checks put in by the game's ruling body, the International Cricket Council, had failed to clean up the sport.
Example of Merging Feeds (London Producers Only)
When merging earlier edits to make a wrap, the originating feed should be included in the shotlist to identify which video comes from which feed.
Germany is gripped by bear fever, transfixed by a three-month-old polar bear cub who appears in public for the first time. Even Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel visits him in Berlin Zoo, saying he hopes the interest in the bear will raise awareness of the plight of polar bears in the wild.
(BN09) BERLIN, GERMANY (MARCH 23, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- JOURNALISTS AND VISITORS WAITING OUTSIDE THE POLAR BEAR ENCLOSURE
- POLAR BEAR CUB, KNUT PLAYING
- KNUT WITH A PIECE OF BARK IN HIS MOUTH
- JOURNALISTS CROWD AROUND THE BEAR ENCLOSURE
(BN10) BERLIN, GERMANY (MARCH 23, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- ZOO KEEPER THOMAS DOERFLEIN FEEDING KNUT
(BN09) BERLIN, GERMANY (MARCH 23, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- CHILDREN WATCHING
- KNUT WITH BARK IN HIS MOUTH / KNUT DRINKING FROM POND
- (SOUNDBITE) (German) RAGNAR KUEHNE, ZOO KEEPER, SAYING: "If he stays healthy, Knut has a good life ahead of him. It's not as if we don't know what to do with him. We have had plenty of offers from renowned zoos to take him, or maybe we will keep him here. In any case, he has good prospects."
- VARIOUS OF KNUT DRINKING WATER FROM POOL AND DIPPING HIS PAW IN WATER/KNUT WALKING AROUND ENCLOSURE
(BN10) BERLIN, GERMANY (MARCH 23, 2007) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
- DOERFLEIN GIVING KNUT BISCUITS
- (SOUNDBITE) (German) NINE-YEAR-OLD SHEILA RICHTER SAYING: "I already have a huge polar bear collection at home, and a huge and fluffy polar bear, too. He is in my bed."
- ENVIRONMENT MINISTER SIGMAR GABRIEL WALKING PAST CARRYING TWO STUFFED POLAR BEAR TOYS
- (SOUNDBITE) (German) ENVIRONMENT MINISTER SIGMAR GABRIEL SAYING: "First, we all know that polar bears are one of the species most at risk from climate change, and so Knut is a good sign for us that we have to look after his relatives in the wild. Second, we have an international conference about the protection of species in Germany next year and we will be able to use Knut as our logo, our mascot, and in return we are sponsoring his feeding, so that is a good partnership we have with the zoo."
- STAND SELLING STUFFED POLAR BEAR TOYS
- STUFFED POLAR BEAR TOYS
- POLAR BEAR TOYS BEING SOLD
- BOY SHOWING HIS STUFFED POLAR BEAR TOYS
Berlin was gripped by bear fever on Friday (March 23), as hundreds of residents flocked to the city's main zoo to see its latest addition: a three-month-old polar bear cub called Knut.
Berlin residents have been fascinated by the story of "cuddly Knut" since his birth in December. Rejected by his mother, the cub was adopted by zoo keeper Thomas Doerflein who moved into the animal's enclosure to care for him around the clock.
Knut's fate grabbed global media attention after some animal rights campaigners said hand-rearing polar bears was a violation of animal rights. German media interpreted this as a call for Knut to be put down.
Berlin Zoo said the animal would be not be put down or left to fend for itself:
Zoo keeper Ragnar Kuehne said the cub had a bright future.
"If he stays healthy, Knut has a good life ahead of him. It's not as if we don't know what to do with him, we have had plenty of offers from renowned zoos to take him, or maybe we will keep him here. In any case he has good prospects," Kuehne said.
As he padded around his enclosure, the baby bear charmed seasoned cameramen, experienced reporters and children alike.
"I already have a huge polar bear collection at home, and a huge and fluffy polar bear too, he is in my bed," said nine-year-old Sheila Richter.
Even Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel stopped by the zoo on Friday, carrying a pair of stuffed polar bear toys. Gabriel hoped the media attention would raise awareness of the plight of Knut's relatives in the wild.
"First, we all know that polar bears are one of the species most at risk from climate change, and so Knut is a good sign for us that we have to look after his relatives in the wild," Gabriel said.
A stall selling stuffed polar bear toys did brisk business, as children queued up to buy their own "baby Knut" to take home.
We occasionally include video news release (VNR) material or handout video in our edits. We should always identify the source of the material in the template, script and shotlist and always check its authenticity.
Clients have a right to know who has supplied the video and the library also need to know so they can check if the material can be re-sold as archive.
For example, the source line on scripts should read:
SOURCE: VNR (MICROSOFT)
Such material is usually unrestricted but must always be checked with intake or output news editors on the day.
TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~**NONE**~
The way we write headlines is extremely important. They sell our stories to our clients. The aim has always been to include as much information as possible in the headline, but to write it in an eye-catching and concise way. We should make headlines as punchy as possible so that they attract attention to the story, build expectation and encourage clients to read on.
We tell, but we also have to sell.
It's arguably more critical than ever before that we write strong and informative headlines as part of the script TEMPLATE. World News Express (WNE) clients require a TEMPLATE to trigger the delivery of the video. There is no longer any room for delay. The headline will often be the first information some clients see, so it has to be arresting and instantly understandable. It should be a short, single sentence summarising the story.
Generally speaking, we should try to write ACTIVE, rather than PASSIVE, headlines. In an ACTIVE headline, the subject is the performer of the action and, in the PASSIVE headline, the subject does nothing; something is done to the subject. Eg: compare ....
The earthquake killed 10 people and left thousands more homeless. (ACTIVE)
Ten people were killed and thousands more left homeless by the earthquake. (PASSIVE)
ACTIVE verbs stress the doer of an action. PASSIVE verbs stress the recipient of the action.
ACTIVE is straightfoward and clear; PASSIVE makes for a roundabout way of saying something. But don't be too inflexible. There are times when you may prefer a PASSIVE construction. eg:
Slobodan Milosevic has been arrested.
The Indonesian Prime Minister is being treated for a heart condition.
For stronger, bolder writing, look for POWER VERBS when constructing a headline. POWER VERBS propel a story forward.
Spend a little extra time finding the verb that exactly captures the spirit and quality of an action. Imagine a sentence where the action revolves around the act of walking. Look at alternatives to the verb "to walk"
eg: travel, journey, trek, ramble, roam, rove, course, wander, itinerate, perambulate, stroll, straggle, knock about, prowl, stray, saunter, tour, emigrate, march, step, tread, pace, wend, promenade, take the air, trudge, stalk, stride, strut, plod, peg along, toddle, patter, shuffle, tramp, hike, footslog, traverse, amble.
Are you still sure the exact verb you are looking for is "to walk"?
Avoid WEAK VERBS. The weakest verbs of all are variations of to be: eg....is, am, are, was, be, being, been.
There was a protest march by teachers on Wednesday (May 18) in Paris. (PASSIVE – using a
Angry teachers marched through Paris on Wednesday (May 18). (ACTIVE -using a POWER VERB)
As a general principle:
- Put your subject first, that should guarantee an active voice.
- Let your writing power come from verbs, not adjectives.
HUMOUR can be appropriate on some occasions, though not when there's a danger of it trivialising a serious story...
Eg: It's over for Rover
It may sound neat, but it's also flippant and it could not be used to responsibly describe the demise of a Rover plant and the subsequent loss of thousands of jobs and livelihoods.
"Papa Ratzi" was The Sun newspaper's offering the day after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was announced as Pope Benedict XVI, the successor to Pope John Paul II. The two word headline is clever, it's witty, but it's also, arguably, belittling. It would neither be our choice, nor our style. I include it to show the extremes to which humour can be taken in some British tabloid newspapers!
A good example of a punchy headline in a Reuters Life! feed recently was "Yahoo aims to take bite out of Apple in music downloading wars." It related to a piece about Yahoo launching a new online music service to compete head to head with rivals Napster and Real Networks and – most importantly - Apple and its successful iTunes service, which owns 70 percent of the market.
Keep days, dates, times and ages out of the headline unless they are absolutely crucial to story. These details should go in the main story and ideally not in the first sentence either.
There is no need to include FULL NAMES in headlines - they take up space. If the person is an international figure, they are instantly identifiable anyway - "Bush", "Suharto", “Merkel", "Mugabe" are fine.
- A headline should not only tell, but sell the story; the headline should be informative, punchy and attract attention.
- A headline should be a short, single sentence summarising the story
- As TEMPLATES have to be sent to trigger video for WNE clients, the headline has to be instantly understandable.
- Try to write ACTIVE rather than PASSIVE headlines.
- For stronger, bolder writing, look for POWER VERBS which capture the spirit and quality of an action.
- Avoid WEAK VERBS like .... is, am, are, was, be, being, been.
- Put your subject first, that should guarantee an active voice.
- Let your writing power come from verbs, not adjectives.
- Use HUMOUR appropriately, but not when there's a danger of it trivialising a serious story.
- There's no need to include FULL NAMES of well known figures in headlines: "Bush", "Putin" "Lula" are acceptable.
- No need to include days, dates, times and ages, unless they are crucial to a story. These details should go in the main story and ideally not in the first sentence either.
It is essential to our credibility as a news organisation that clients can rely on our accurate reporting. It is unacceptable not to check the basics such as correct spelling of names, numbers and factual information. Always write on the basis that yours will be the last pair of eyes to view the story and don’t assume anyone else will check it. Good grammar and intelligent punctuation are a necessity. If you are unsure of spellings, the correct title, country or company name, grammatical or punctuation queries check with the Handbook of Reuters Journalism. This is being constantly updated and improved so this should be your first point of reference. Reuters EDREF (Editorial Reference) unit (email@example.com) can help with dates, historical background and factboxes that give context to a story.
Check, check and check again
The following are tips of the trade to improve accuracy in bureaux, regional centres and London (with thanks to text training).
- What day is it and what date?
- What country is this – is it in your headline?
- What is happening – the event that is making the news
- Sourcing and context – attribute opinion, quotes, statements, numbers
- Full names and titles of people in your story, spelled correctly
- Read copy backwards
- Spell all names back to sources, even seemingly obvious ones – Smith or Smythe?
- Check all company names with a primary source. Do not take the word of someone who spells them for you; they can be wrong.
- Business and financial stories – don’t confuse millions and billions. Figures rise and fall – don’t over elaborate. Figures need comparisons to make sense. Make figures add up. Repeat all numbers back to a supplier
- Fact check a complex story with a knowledgeable source
- Read previous Reuters stories but don’t lift without checking for updates
- NEVER copy information from a non-Reuters source without checking it
- Check all directions and distances on a map
- Attribute superlatives, or avoid them.
- Check all e-mail addresses by sending a message
- Check all web URLs by calling them up. Check after they have been typed on screen, not from notes.
- NEVER assume anything.
- Remember, there is little commitment to accuracy on websites, especially blogs
- NEVER use two words when one will do
- Check your transcriptions of soundbites are word for word. Then listen and check again
- Check translations are accurate and make sense.
- Use good punctuation and grammar to make sense of a soundbite
- LOOK at your edit again
- READ your copy again
Accuracy is at the heart of what we do. It is our job to get the pictures to the clients first, but it is above all our job to get it right. Accuracy, as well as balance, always takes precedence over speed.
We own up to our mistakes. We should correct errors promptly and clearly whether in a story, a caption, a graphic, video or a script.
When writing television scripts, we must, like our text colleagues, be scrupulous about correct sourcing. Comprehensive guidance is available in the Handbook of Reuters Journalism. The following guidance can be applied. Good sourcing helps protect the integrity of our pictures and stories from outside pressure, manipulation, hoaxes and from legal dangers.
You must source every statement in every story, unless it is an established fact or is information clearly in the public domain, such as court documents or in instances when a Reuters reporter, photographer or camera operator was on the scene. We cannot make statements without supporting what we say. Opinion and editorialising are not fact and lay us open to litigation.
A Reuters journalist or camera is the best source. Such first-hand reports deal with facts not opinions. Being there with pictures enables us to show the news, the most accurate sourcing possible.
If Reuters is witness to a scheduled event that has taken place in public view and is not contentious, such as a state funeral, the report in general does not need sourcing. But if such a story contains an unexpected event or contentious elements, it should be sourced in the following way. Example:
“Reuters cameraman Bart Noonan saw police drag a student into a doorway and beat him unconscious with truncheons.”
In this case, one would expect it to be backed up by video of the event!
The next best is a named source. Even with a named source we are not free from responsibility for what we quote the source as saying. Whenever possible, sources should be identified by name and position. This enables readers to gauge the accuracy of the story by how close sources are to the information. Information from a named source must be checked and balanced, especially in a situation of conflict or negotiation. Named sources may not be more reliable than an unnamed one but give more protection if the story is challenged.
The weakest sources are those whose names we cannot use. Anonymous sources should only be used if we believe them to accurate, reliable and providing newsworthy information that we could not obtain any other way. Unnamed sources must have direct knowledge of the information they are giving us, or must represent an authority with direct knowledge. Responsibility for reporting an anonymous source lies solely with Reuters and the reporter. It is the least watertight form of sourcing.
Uppicks from other broadcasters and competitors. We often use pictures uppicked from other broadcasters, but this does not mean our responsibility to provide balanced, accurate, legally sound and not defamatory reports ends. We must make every effort to check the source is reliable and if we cannot obtain confirmation of the story from another source we must make it clear in the story that we tried. The originator of the pictures must be sourced and credited with the appropriate restrictions. If you are unsure if we should use the pictures always check with a senior editor, even if this means waking them in the middle of the night. It pays to be especially scrupulous as more media sources become available via websites on the internet, video blogs and camera phones.
Be honest in sourcing. Never deliberately mislead the client/reader. Never cite ‘sources’ in the plural when there is only one source. In a conflict, dispute or negotiation, always try to present all sides of the argument and make clear which side your source is on. Never make up a source.
Do not agree to let a source vet a story. We may let an interviewee view what they have said on camera, but we do not let them demand to vet quotes as a condition of the interview.
We may “clean-up” a soundbite linguistically when the quote is not in English, to make its meaning clear, but we do not interpret or massage quotes in a way that could change its meaning.
For further guidance on sourcing see “The Essentials of Reuters Sourcing”.
This page was last modified 16:29, 28 November 2013.