Peer edit checklist for a news spot:
Remember, a news spot is about a 60-second NEWS STORY; it typically includes one to two quotes.
Peer edit: Have your partner read aloud his/her story and play the quotes in real time. Listen attentively and jot any notes down as soon as you finish listening. After you’ve listened once, go through the checklist below together. Make suggestions to tighten and focus the writing.
Their story should follow the outline (below) and answer these key questions:
INTRO: 15 to 20 seconds, clearly stating the main idea of the news story, and then introducing the reporter and often the location of the story.
- Do I understand what the story is about? Why it’s important?
- Do I have a sense of what questions the story will answer?
BODY: about 45 seconds
Typically opens with a line from the reporter setting the scene and giving us some important info, ie, a small group of students are organizing a campaign to ban assault rifles or many students on campus feel unsafe after recent events (only use if those statements are true). Or perhaps you introduce some data from a California survey showing how many students support gun control. Or a national survey.
Then introduce the first quote. Introduce the person by his/her full name, and identify why we are hearing from him/her (because s/he is a concerned student or an advocate, etc)
- Does the first line give me some new information key to the story?
- Does the introduction to the person tell me who s/he is, and why his/her opinion is relevant and important?
QUOTE: should be 15 seconds or less. It should be clear, often sharing an expert opinion or the opinion of an affected person
- Does the actuality/quote tell me something about this person’s opinion?
- Does this add new information to the story?
The reporter line coming out of the quote should flow smoothly, and might even reinforce something the person said. The story ending should be a line or two from the reporter, that adds some additional information to the story. Maybe you have some information on action Congress is considering, or when students will be marching again somewhere locally or nationally.
SOC OUT: In radio and often TV, you end the piece with your name: “For NPR News, I’m Kathleen Masterson.” In class since we aren’t reporting for any news entity, we can be creative here!
Here are links to a few sample news spots, but keep in mind, these are long. That’s because NPR doesn’t post its daily news spots transcripts, so they are hard to find in print.
Here’s a sample news spot I wrote some years ago; its called a superspot because my editor wanted me to write closer to 1:45 minutes long:
A team of Lake Tahoe partners has begun an underwater effort to eliminate the invasive Asian Clam from the sparkling Emerald Bay. As Capital Public Radio’s Kathleen Masterson reports, they hope controlling the invasives will help water clarity and boost native species.
It’s a warm, sunny day at Lake Tahoe, but the water is a brisk 54 degrees.
A team of divers is braving the chilly temperatures to lay down thick rubber mats along 5 acres of lake floor. The mats should suffocate the growing population of Asian clams in Emerald Bay.
Brant Allen with UC Davis swims over (water noises) to the boat holding a handful of thumb-nail sized Asian clams he’s scooped up from the lake floor sediment:
Allen1 (20) — I’m very optimistic here—it’s a relatively early stages of this population, and we’re only looking at maybe 10 to 200 per square meter. Unlike Marla bay, where we have thousands per square meter and a much more vast area.
Researchers have greatly reduced Asian clams in other parts of the lake using these rubber mats. But Emerald Bay is trickier because water currents and the permeable silt of the lake floor allow oxygen to move through even under the mats. So researchers are adding a layer of aspen tree chips between the mat and the lake floor. The chips should decompose and use up the oxygen faster than it flows in.
Kim boyd is with the Tahoe Resource Conservation District.
Boyd1 (09) — So while we are learning about how to control Asian clams in lake Tahoe—I mentioned they are in Donner lake—we eventually hope to use that technology there.
Other nearby lakes so far appear to be free of Asian claims… and Boyd is hopeful the boat inspection program can prevent the invasives from establishing there.
The Emerald bay project costs about $800–thousand dollars and is funded by state and federal monies.
From South Lake Tahoe, Kathleen Masterson, Capital Public Radio News.