10. The bulletin

The anchor and the whole team are liable for the bulletin. It is made out of headlines, anchor intros, reports and copies. It's a melody. It last between 10 and 15 minutes, or more, depending on the radio station. Usually, there are a few bulletins in the morning, a long one at noon and a long one in the evening. As with everything in radio, it must be prepared, written, and is read out loud as many times as necessary before the anchor reads it on air.

Before you write : read, listen and think about rhythm.

After the editorial meeting, every minute counts for the anchor. His cardinal imperative is being on time for the newscast. This necessity oftentimes leads anchors to succumb to an unfortunate reflex: writing prematurely their scripts. Here is some advice that will help you write better and therefore put together a better bulletin.

The first thing to do is reread the notes you’ve taken during the meeting. It will allow you to make sure that you’ve properly understood what has been decided. Thanks to that reread, you will also be able to check what elements or information you lack or are incomplete.

Write your to-do list for the bulletin. You must organize the items on that list according to logic. This is a kind of check list of your broadcast, the kind that pilots of plane would write before take-off. You can cross out each item once you’re done with it.

Read the follow-up note the anchor that presented the previous bulletin has left for you. Also read his scripts. If you were not able to listen directly to his broadcast, get a copy of it and listen to it.

Read the anchor intros of the reports that are already done. Reporters must leave their report with anchor intros, precising the angle they’ve used.

Listen attentively to the audio that is already available. Note the beginning and the end of each soundbite : it will help you write the anchor intros. Note how long each clip lasts.

Talk to the reporters. Ask them to explain things that puzzle you when reading their intros or listening to their audio. Get information on who’s out and when they are going to come back. Call other newsrooms correspondents to check that you do have all the elements you need.

Finally, think about the rhythm and balance of the bulletin. Before you start writing, get a clear idea of what it will consist in. In order to do so, ask yourself a few questions : do you have enough stories ? Do you have nothing but packages ? Do you have information for each big region in the country ? Do you not have too many political reports and not enough that deal with everyday life ?