It takes a little bit of mental gymnastics and an effort to unlearn some of the rules about writing for print, but putting together a great webcast script is actually pretty easy. Here's a guide to making the switch from newspaper writing to broadcast writing:
1. Bring the story up to date - Rule No. 1 for broadcast writing is usually "write in the present tense," but just changing verb tense isn't really the point. What the webcast should do is make viewers feel as if they know what's happening right now. That's the mental gymnastics part: Instead of reporting what happened in the past, a broadcaster brings the story into the present.
In the Human vs. Zombies story on theorion.com this morning, for example, the lead:
THE HUMANS VERSUS ZOMBIES WEEKLONG EVENT WAS CONCLUDED THIS PAST SATURDAY. THE HUMANS DEFEATED THE ZOMBIES AT THE END OF THE DAY TO WIN THE FINAL MISSION. (to video)
might look like this for webcast:
WELL, IT'S OVER! ZOMBIES AND HUMANS ARE RECOVERING TODAY FROM THEIR WEEKLONG BATTLE FOR CHICO STATE CAMPUS SUPREMACY.
JUNIOR(?) JUSTIN WESSEL EXPLAINS HOW THE HUMANS TRIUMPHED (to video)
This version brings the story up to date, and the present tense verbs just naturally replace the past-tense verbs.
The weekend basketball roundup could have done the same by taking a different angle. Instead of reporting what happened over the weekend, the writer could have thought about what's important today:
DESPITE WEEKEND LOSSES, THE CHICO STATE MEN'S AND WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TEAMS WILL START N-C-DOUBLE-A DIVISION TWO REGIONAL TOURNAMENT ACTION THIS WEEK.
Next paragraph: details about when and where the teams will play.
Third paragraph: explain what happened in the conference championships over the weekend.
2. Unlearn some of the rules of print writing - Bringing stories into the present requires some rethinking about what belongs in a lead. In print, the most important story element goes up top, but in broadcast, currency often has higher value than importance.
The print rule about putting attribution at the end of sentences does a 180 in broadcast. The source of information usually starts a sentence.
And while dependent clauses are often a great way to add explanatory information in print sentences, commas are generally the enemy in broadcast. Short, direct sentences are better.
3. Broadcast writing is less formal - I'm reminded of this when Allison Weeks starts her weather forecasts. She does the polite, formal thing by saying "thank you" when Lacey Vaughan pitches to her, but I can't think of the last time I heard someone in TV news say "thank you." A less formal "Thanks, Lacey" would be the typical, less formal response. The rest of the writing in the webcast should be just as conversational.