Network news writer offers advice

Jonathan Glenn says you just have to love telling stories to be a good writer, but Glenn, who works on the Fox Report, also has some concrete suggestions for telling good TV stories.

“After you’ve gathered all the information you need, there’s one thing you have to do before beginning to write,” says Glenn.  “Put all the information away and think for a moment.”

Glenn says that’s where you’ll find your voice as a writer, once you’re able to put the most important information in your own words.

“You’ve probably heard that you should imagine that you’re telling your story to a friend,” Glenn says, then laughs.  “At Fox we say that you should tell it like you’re talking to a friend sitting in a bar.  You want to keep it as conversational as possible.”

To make your writing easy to understand, Glenn says you need to do several things:

  • Use short sentences.  People are relying on their memories to keep track of what’s going on in your story; it’s best to break the important information up in to little bits.
  • Use active voice – structure your sentences subject, verb, object.
  • Avoid sentences within sentences or the use of dependent clauses.
  • Assume viewers are only half paying attention.

Glenn also says it’s important that you’re able to adjust your writing style to every anchor, every market and every audience.

And for those who are just getting started, Glenn says he thinks the best source of information on writing well for television news comes from Merv Block’s “Writing Broadcast News” book.