What is DACA?

The program was introduced in 2012 by President Barack Obama as a stopgap measure that would shield from deportation people who were brought into the United States as children. The status is renewable, lasting two years at a time. The program does not provide a pathway to citizenship.

Speech Synthesis Markup Language

Hi, I’m Missy. And I’m Biff. Don’t you wish you could bring Alexa to life with just a little more emotion Well, you can, with Speech Synthesis Markup Language. Here is an example of a marked-up text that demonstrates how to use SSML to modify how Alexa speaks: Check it out on the class website!
fancy that!

To begin, here is normal volume for the first sentence. Louder volume for the second sentence.
When I wake up, I speak quite slowly.
I can speak with my normal pitch, but also with a much higher pitch ,
and also with a lower pitch.

Remember, kiddies, SSML does not work in Flash Briefings, only in real skills. bada bing bada boom

Oil and State

Big mess:
Two oil companies went bankrupt last year, leaving the state to clean up the mess.  California State lawmakers are considering spending 100 million dollars. The state needs to clean up two offshore oil drilling facilities and a man-made island.

 Second story: Youtube Propaganda:
A Russian state broadcaster has obtained hundreds of millions of views on youtube…

The director of National intelligence accused Russia Today of promoting Russian propaganda just last year…..  Youtube plans to solve the problem by making changes to its platform. Youtube will now start labeling news videos that receive some government funding.

Writing for Audio

Tip sheet from Class 3; review this when working on your script!


** Audio is different from print:

Remember that a listener will likely be doing multiple things WHILE s/he is listening. Perhaps driving, cooking, feeding children, making coffee. S/he can’t easily hit rewind if a sentence doesn’t make sense. So it’s important to write:

  • Simply and conversationally
  • Shorter sentences that build up to the point
  • Sentences build on each other and reinforce ideas mentioned earlier

Examples from NPR training guide:

PRINT —  Here’s a lead from a Washington Post story by David Fahrenthold in 2017:
“Almost four months after promising $1 million of his own money to veterans’ causes, Donald Trump moved to fulfill that pledge Monday evening — promising the entire sum to a single charity as he came under intense media scrutiny.”

RADIO — Here’s a possible radio version:

Four months ago, Donald Trump promised to donate a million dollars of his own money to veterans’ groups.

But it wasn’t until last night that he began to fulfill that pledge.

Trump promised the entire sum to a single charity.

He did that — after facing pressure from the media.

** Writing style:

The key is to write the way you talk. While we don’t want uhms and half-formed sentences, we do want the language to sound conversational, to use everyday language and words that paint a descriptive picture in our heads.  

A good way to write this way is to SPEAK a sentence BEFORE you type it. This helps you to AVOID elaborate phrases that don’t make sense in spoken language.  

For example, AVOID dependent clauses:

If you listen closely to people chatting with each other, you will rarely hear a dependent clause. I don’t tell people, “My dog, who loves to play fetch for hours on end, is very energetic.” I’m more likely to say, “My dog loves to play fetch for hours on end. She’s very energetic.”

PRINT: “The Waters of the United States rule, designed to limit pollution in about 60 percent of the nation’s bodies of water, was put forth by the E.P.A. and the Army Corps of Engineers in 2015.” NYT

RADIO: The federal order was designed to regulate pollution in more than half of the country’s waterways. It’s called the Waters of the United States rule. It went into effect in 2015.  

A few other style notes:
Sentences should flow together with a natural rhythm
Avoid repeating words, you can find a synonym or another way around it
Use very short sentences to drive home a point

** Simplify

As a general rule, you probably shouldn’t use more than one or two numbers in a sentence. They don’t translate well to spoken words, and you’ll lose your audience.

PRINT: “As of February 2, infection rates for the 2017-2018 flu season were still rising, higher than those in any year since 2009, when the swine flu was pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Even more worrying, the hospitalization rate is the highest that the C.D.C. has ever recorded at this point in the season. It has just surpassed that of the lethal 2014-2015 season, during which 710,000 Americans were hospitalized and 56,000 died.” NYT, 2/2/2018

RADIO: Federal health officials say the current flu season is still getting worse. And the hospitalization rate is the highest the CDC has ever recorded at this point in the season.


Like numbers, long unwieldy titles also get confusing. Simplify. Or if the person’s specific role is important to the story, split it into two sentences.

PRINT: “Late Wednesday Adam Schiff, the Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat, said Nunes has sent a version of that to the White House that was “materially altered,” and therefore not approved for release.”

RADIO: California Representative Adam Schiff says the memo Nunes sent to the White House was significantly altered. Schiff is the top Democrat on the House Intelligence committee. He says the memo should never have been released.

** Tone

Broadcast news has changed in tone in recent decades, moving from a very formal “official newscaster” tone to a more casual, yet knowledgeable explaining-the-news-to-your-friend-tone. Some podcasts have moved the tone needle ever further, and are literally just unedited tape of people chatting (and cursing).

For news purposes, we want our voice tone to sound natural and conservational. Recording your voice and having it sound natural is MUCH HARDER than it seems. The most important part? WRITING THE WAY YOU TALK. If your story is written too formally, you won’t be able to deliver it in an authentic way.

** Natural Sound

Using what radio reporters call “nat sound” is one of the oldest tricks in the book for painting a vivid picture in listeners’ minds. Using nat sound effectively means writing clear, precise descriptive language that tells your listener what s/he is hearing. Otherwise a sun-dappled trickling brook could be mistaken for someone peeing.

** Transitions  

FROM NPR Training Guide:

You need deliberate transitions. Print and digital stories can use section headings, line breaks and other elements of visual design to indicate transitions. In audio, all we have is sound. So transitions can be explicitly narrated (i.e. “In order to learn more about the policy, I stopped by the office of an economist … ”) or demarcated with sound (i.e. one sound fades out, another fades in).