The problem with ripping-and-reading broadcast stories into print

Skip the commentary and go straight to the step-by-step of why the broadcast story doesn’t work as a print story in the slideshare below. Or read the commentary.


A well-written broadcast story is a jewel. It’s concise, it’s powerful. It has words that complement the images. A poorly written one? Bad. Very bad. But in the age of content re-purposing, we’re seeing more and more broadcast stories get turned into for-the-website stories.

Back in the days of old, it was called the ‘rip-and-read,’ when a broadcast outlet would take a story directly off the AP or UPI wire and read it straight into the microphone. In the modern age, outlets do the same thing, except they do it to themselves and they do it in reverse.

KFVS-TV, the CBS affiliate in Cape Girardeau, Mo., provides us with a great example.

It’s a story about making teacher certification standards more rigorous. For a community like Cape Girardeau, which is the home to a regional university that educates lots of area teachers, it’s a story that matters. And as a broadcast story, it’s fine.

But someone ripped-and-read it the website and that’s where it went off the tracks. By using the script — and yes, it’s word for word with the broadcast, even the in-studio lead-in — you end up with a poorly structured print story that doesn’t take advantage of any of the Web’s attributes: the ability to explain clearly and in depth, the ability to link out or put in extra details.

The KFVS story has a problem with transitions and low-loading of information. It’s almost entirely due to the differences between quality broadcast writing and quality print writing.