17. The newflash

A newsflash is a quick glance at the latest news. Sometimes, during major events, you will get new information in the space of just a few hours. A newsflash gives the listeners the latest developments. It points out and informs, but does not offer developed stories. It's a mini bulletin with only copy and no headlines. (see 12 – the copy).


The newsflash, like the bulletin, is an opportunity for the listener to keep up with the latest news. Yet, there are quite a few differences between a newsflash and a bulletin.


That’s the first singularity of a newsflash : it’s very short. Its shortness is actually what gives it its name. A radio station was recently promoting its newsflash by saying it gave its listeners the opportunity to “go around the world in 90 seconds”. A newsflash lasts between one and three minutes.


Most radios broadcast newsflashes every hour. 24-hour information radio stations have them every half an hour, and sometimes they have headlines every quarter of an hour. This is a choice the station makes, taking into account its financial resources. To make this work there needs to be more than two journalists spending all day in front of the computer screen, checking the latest news, staying in touch with the reporters on the field…


A newsflash only consists in copy. The only liberties the anchor can take to work on the newsflash’s rhythm is on copy duration. Some stories can be told in five seconds, others can exceptionally be told in over 20 seconds. During a newsflash, the anchor can give at most between 6 and 10 news items.

Editorial content

Because a newsflash is so short, it necessarily skates over the news. Only the major stories belong in a newsflash. You need to get straight to the point. This is not the place to go into great detail on a story or to bring an analysis.

  • Facts first and foremost. The latest news on what’s going on. This has to be the newsflash’s lead.
  • News you get at 9.45 must be in the 10 o’clock newsflash.
  • This very same news item does not necessarily have to be in the midday bulletin, because it’s not capital anymore.

After you’ve told the major news, in a newsflash you can also :

  • Announce the story that will be developed at great length during the midday or the evening newscast (promoting the newsroom’s work).
  • Give out practical info : the traffic, the weather, a summary of a decree… (proximity with the listeners).
  • Eventually broadcast a very short soundbite or a voicer, if the news demand it and the anchor feels it belongs in the newsflash.
  • End with a story announcing a show, a concert, or humorous news (a kicker) (this way you end the newsflash with a smile).