Story Set-Up and Slug Lines

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Story Set-up and Slug Lines : 

Story Set-up and Slug Lines

What do others need to know about your story? : 

What do others need to know about your story? Setting up a leader or slug-line gives other people who read your news copy important information. There are a few things to think about when passing on this information. Which markets will run the story? For how long? Those are just a couple of examples.

Right off the Top : 

Right off the Top A slug-line should have at least four basic elements. Here’s an example: Fatal-Ident…New 5am…Feb. 5, 2009…VG (Fatal)The story refers to an earlier story where someone died. (Ident) This is an obvious update to identify the victim. Try to keep it as short and sweet as possible. If you know the story may be used outside your province, you may also wish to add NS, NB or PEI to the beginning of the slug-line. You’ll notice this is common practice on the newswire.

Fatal-Ident…New 5am…Feb. 5, 2009…VG : 

Fatal-Ident…New 5am…Feb. 5, 2009…VG 2. This tells everyone when the story started running regarding day-part. In this particular example, the afternoon newscaster will know that the story began that morning. For my purposes, if a story begins running in the latter part of the afternoon, it is still fresh enough to use in my morning casts.

Fatal-Ident…New 5am…Feb. 5, 2009…VG : 

3. This may seem obvious, but we’ve all ended up wondering if the “tomorrow” in a story was really “today.” The date takes out the guesswork. This is also one time when it pays to be redundant and embed that piece of information in the story. For example: The protest will take place tomorrow (Thursday). Fatal-Ident…New 5am…Feb. 5, 2009…VG

Fatal-Ident…New 5am…Feb. 5, 2009…VG : 

Fatal-Ident…New 5am…Feb. 5, 2009…VG It’s always nice to know the source of a story. In this case, you see my initials, so you know that I have done some digging and found the information on my own. If, in this case, I had found the information elsewhere and rewritten the story for air, then I would also have added that source. For example: If it had read Herald/VG, you would know that I had initially found the information in the Halifax Chronicle Herald.

But Wait! There’s More! : 

But Wait! There’s More! The Pronouncer I personally like to see pronouncers (if they are necessary) immediately under the slug line and embedded in the story. No one likes surprises if they are forced to read a story cold, and it can happen.

A Useful Pronouncer… : 

A Useful Pronouncer… Will not only instruct the reader on the correct pronunciation of a name or thing; it will also tell the reader which syllable needs to be stressed. This can be done in a couple of ways: For example: Lequille (le KEEL) or (le keel) There are a lot of quirky names in the Maritimes. Better to leave no doubt.

Is there anything else you should pass along? : 

Is there anything else you should pass along? If a story is time-sensitive, there may be a warning to watch for dating. There may be a suggestion that a follow-up story is forthcoming. There may be a request to embargo the release of a story until a particular time. Any such information should be included close to the slug line, so that it becomes obvious to the reader. Always think about how, when, and where your story will be used.

Audio Clips : 

Audio Clips An audio clip should have its own slug-line to allow the newscaster to anticipate at which point in the story it should run. For example: Joe Smith Clip…10 sec…x: for now This tells the newscaster who is speaking, for how long, and what his final words will be, so that they are then able to anticipate those words and allow for an even flow to the news read.

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