Making News

Issue #3

I’ve listened to radio news stories since I was 12-ish. In college, I started learning how to make them. Threshold isn’t going to be a news magazine, but my vision and passion for creating it began with my love of news written for the ear. Homage is due!

Economy is the defining characteristic of radio news stories. This is what makes them wonderful to listen to and difficult to create. Basic news pieces are a minute or less, features are usually five minutes or shorter. That’s some crazy math. After days or weeks of research, the reporter has to take me to a place, introduce key characters, give background, convey new information and make me care. All in the time it takes to cook an egg.

But it’s more than math – there has to be magic in it too. It reminds me of playing scales on the piano. If you can do that well, everything else you play is going to sound more fluid, more at ease. Or maybe a better analogy is writing haiku, those three graceful lines of 5 – 7 – 5. Radio news is storytelling stripped down to its skeleton. In the hands of a master, it can be a work of art.

There are hard limits to what you can explore in a news story, and I’m creating Threshold because I want to do things that radio news can’t. But I don't want to lose the discipline and efficiency of the news form, even as I color outside of those lines. More words does not necessarily mean more better. Or, as a lot of people have said, “if I’d had more time I would have made it shorter.”

~ Amy