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Chapter 5




Test questions & PDF



This chapter introduces students to the basics of writing in a variety of media in addition to print, including audio and video, and it also differentiates online print writing.





You can choose from several "before and after" video stories to discuss as a class at the Newslab website.  Stories are in script form, with analysis of the differences between the "before" and "after" versions.


The Poynter Institute's Al Tompkins has a list of effective video news stories (this link is also on the Interactive Workbook Visual Storytelling page).


Chapter 5 exercises in the textbook include the following range:


  • Learning how best to use the different media by analyzing multimedia packages produced by peers and professionals

  • Writing a brief audio story

  • Writing a brief video story

  • Brainstorming, pitching and planning a multimedia package


The first exercise in the Interactive Workbook asks students to respond to a multimedia package.  The second one asks students to write for different media.


1. Assessing different media (Exercise W5-1 in the Interactive Workbook is a corresponding assignment.)


a.  Ask students to view this multimedia package about Longs Peak, a popular but dangerous climb.


b.  Have students describe their response to the package.  Identify and explore any patterns in their responses.


c.  Watch one of the videos together and discuss whether and why video was the best medium to use.  For instance, the Jim Davidson piece is a talking head video with a few pictures edited in—so not much action.  But what he has to say is interesting and would be far too much to include in the print portion of the story.  Does that justify using video?  Or would they trim down what he has to say and move it to print?  The Alan Arnette video offers some dramatic images, but does video offer more than a photo could?


d.  Point out to students that the infographics allow the journalists to include useful data without bogging down the print story with a bunch of numbers.


e.  Ask students to describe how the print story contributes to the package. 


2.  Audio script format


To give students practice writing an audio script, show them how to reverse engineer a script using an NPR segment.  


From the NPR page linked above, click on the “listen” tab at the top, and then click on “Hourly News Summary.”  These stories typically run between four and five minutes.  The commercial break is a good place to stop for a shorter exercise.  We reverse engineered this sample script from the first three minutes of the Sept. 20, 2014, broadcast.


This Poynter piece, updated in 2011, features tips from Peter King, a CBS Radio reporter (scroll to the interview with Poynter’s Al Tompkins).  There are also two links to further installments in the series.


3.  Video script format


To give students practice writing a video script, show them how to reverse engineer a script using this Huffpost Live segment


Ask students to just write the interviewer’s script. (It runs about 30 seconds.) We reverse engineered this sample script for the interviewer’s opening report. 


As part of this activity, you can preview interviewing skills (Chapter 9 in the text) by asking students to pay attention to the questions written for the interview.  Which questions generated a quality response from the guest?


4.  Writing print for online


For the Huffpost Live interview,


a.  Ask students to write a one-paragraph online teaser.


b.  Ask them to write a four- to five-paragraph online story to accompany the segment.

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