What’s a VO/SB and how do you write one?

For some reason, the voice over/sound bite (VO/SB) or voice over/sound on tape (VO/SOT) seems to be one of the most challenging TV story forms to do well.  It also seems to be one of the toughest story forms for which to explain the writing process to beginning journalists.

At it’s most basic, a VO/SB is a story, usually read live by an anchor, which includes video that the anchor “voices over” and a sound bite, for which the anchor pauses reading so the audience can hear it.

Jamie McIntrye, a former CNN reporter, says these stories are made up of four key components (pdf):

1. The anchor intro — usually one sentence long and read live on camera.
2. The copy — covered by b-roll and usually 2-3 short sentences long — also read live.
3. The SOT or sound bite — usually :08-:15 long. (The anchor stops reading while the audience hears the sound bite.)
4. The anchor tag — another sentence or two for the anchor to read live,  either on camera or as voice over following the sound bite.

McIntrye has about a dozen great “how-to” posts on his blog, which he calls “Journosaurus Rex.”

Thanks for sharing!