Broadcast Writing

TV/Radio Writing
TV&R Course #16
Section BC, Code #1413
Fall 2001
Monday & Wednesday 9:00 - 10:15 a.m.
Whitehead Hall 401A

Professor: Martin Spinelli
Office: 406 Whitehead
Office hours: Monday 11:45 - 1:45 & Wednesday 11:45 - 12:45
(Also at other times by appointment. I will typically be on campus Tuesday and can arrange to meet you then as well. Either email me or call the Department of Television & Radio at 951-5555.)


Before there were mixing boards and tape machines, before there were computerized editing systems and digital recorders, before radio and television had even been invented, there were good broadcast writers. From Greek dramatists to town criers, the skills of focused and lively oral communication have been practiced throughout the ages. The goal of this course is to help you understand and develop these skills through careful listening to examples of good broadcast writing and through practical exercises in the form of class assignments and workshops, out-of-class writing and reading projects, peer-editing sessions, and frequent (often surprise) quizzes.

By the end of this course students will be able to:

Assignments and Grades:

Proviso #1: Assignments are due when they are due. I have no patience for excuses involving hungry dogs, dead grandmothers, delinquent siblings, acts of natural disaster, and the like. Similarly, notes from Dr. Mom will gain you no sympathy. I do NOT accept late work. If you feel you might be unable to meet a deadline you must discuss it with me during a class meeting before the assignment is due. Only then will I consider granting you an extension.

Proviso #2: As each class meeting will build on the material presented in previous sessions, attendance is extremely important. If you miss more than three class meetings I reserve the right to lower your final grade one-half of a letter for each subsequent absence. Showing up on time is equally important. I will allow a five-minute grace period at the beginning of class; if you show up later than 9:05 you will not receive attendance credit and may be locked out of class.

If you miss a quiz it counts as a zero. There are no make-up quizzes.

Required Reading:

Weekly breakdown by topic (subject to change):

Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: Broadcast writing vs. print writing
Week 3: Writing with your voice in mind
Weeks 4-5: News writing format and style
Weeks 6-7: Broadcast essays, editorials and commentaries
Weeks 8-9: Feature research and writing
Week 10-11: Writing promotional announcements
Week 12: Principles of effective editing and revision
Weeks 13-14: The broadcast drama