In the third lesson of Writing in Stereo II, we take a look at the specifics of the common voicer.
Taken from the overall MicWriter model, the voicer uses only parts 1, 2, 4 and 5, the soft lede, write-up, write-out and lock-out.
When a reporter gets information on an event or news assignment and shares that information with the audience, either live or recorded, that’s called a voicer. The “voice” in a voicer is not the voice of the news source; it’s the voice of the reporter. A voicer does not include an actuality.
In a typical voicer the reporter calls a news source for more information. You might have time and access to the recording workstation to record a phoner, but you can get a voicer at any phone. Of course, you can talk to the source in person, too. You just get the information, perhaps a quote, and take good notes.
After the call you write a reader-style story. The parts are the same. Now when you write what your titled-source-says, you’ll be sharing the real quotes—direct and indirect—that the source shared with you on the phone.
There is one little difference with a voicer. The news reader (anchor) will add your soft lede to the main news copy (script). After the soft lede, you’ll write for the news reader: “Warrior Radio News Reporter (your name) has details.” What follows will be you on the air or your recorded voice picking up with the titled-source-says sentences.
After the last sentence of the story, you tack on a sentence that professional broadcast journalists call a lockout. (I’m not making this up.) You hear lockouts all the time in TV news. Our reporters say, “For Warrior Radio News I’m (your name).” If you’re on the air live, the close will not be so formal. You’ll let the news reader know how the story ends. He might ask you a pre-arranged follow-up question. But he or she will thank you and move on to the next story.
Doug Potter is a retired high school teacher. During his 30-year teaching career, he taught drama, English, writing, broadcast journalism and radio and video production. His proudest achievement is Pueblo Magnet High School's KWXL-LP, one of only two FCC-licensed low power FM radio stations in Tucson, Arizona.
Doug earned his bachelor's degree in radio/TV at Arizona State University and his masters in drama at the University of Arizona. He's been shooting and editing film and video since 1968. Drawing on years of research and teaching experience, Doug developed the Writing in Stereo program and the MicWriter (“mike writer”) broadcast news writing model for use in his radio broadcast journalism classes.