If you’re one of the countless Broadcast Journalism students at colleges and universities around the world, you will likely encounter a vast array of news scriptwriting software over the course of your academic career. One of the most common production automation systems is known as EZNews®, a program “designed to run in virtually any local computer network,” according to the software’s official web site: www.eznews.com. However, the computer network will need to be Microsoft Windows® based, with Windows 2008 servers or higher. If you plan to encounter EZNews® in your academic or career future, here are a few things the software is capable of and a few things you will need to know:
1. The EZNews® Navigator
Upon opening the program, you will be greeted with the EZ News Main Screen, where you will find three of the program’s main features: the Navigator, Rundown and Editor. As a Broadcast Journalism student, you should already be familiar with the basic makeup and elements of a news rundown. EZNews® will make it easier than ever to compose your newscast production rundowns.
The Navigator allows you “navigate” between your productions, news archives and news assignments via the use of simple folders and tabs. Think of these folders and tabs as your newsroom. It is made up of assignments (for producers, anchors, reporters, etc.), show/segment titles, archives and wires. From the navigator, you will be able to quickly and easily “stack” your newscast.
2. EZNews® Rundown
Speaking from personal experience, this feature may perhaps be one of those beneficial and widely used elements of EZNews®, particularly for Broadcast students who wish to gain experience as newscast producers. As a producer, you will be responsible for each and every detail of the cast, including individual anchor scripts, camera shots and movements, story formats, the use of graphics and appropriate media, the estimated run time of each story in the cast and when, where and how many commercial breaks will run.
And all of these elements must be carried out to the second. If one element of the cast is short or long, the overall newscast will be short or long, resulting either in dead air time or the intrusion of your cast into the following program.
While this may seem like an unbearable load of responsibility and pressure, the rundown is your guide, your map, your overall direction for the entire cast. It is a specific list, made up of 15 to 20 columns (depending on the station and market at which you are employed) which will designate the following, though not particularly in this order:
• The newscast block (A-1, A-2, B-1, B-7, C-5, etc.)
• Camera: this denotes which camera will be making the shot at that specific time of the cast (i.e. C-1, C-2, C-3, etc.)
• Shot: this designates the type of shot that specific camera will be making (TAKE, 1-shot, 2-shot, etc.)
• Talent: this designates what reporter, anchor, weatherman, etc. will appear on camera at that specific time of the cast (i.e. Bob, Susan, Joe, etc.). If the shot calls for a 2-shot of the anchors, you would include both anchors’ names in this slot (i.e. Bob and Susan).
• Slug: here is where you will designate the shortened title of the story to be aired at that specific time of the cast (i.e. “House Fire,” “Motorcycle Crash,” “Presidential Nomination,” etc.). These titles should be short and generic.
• Format: here is where you will designate the type of story airing at that specific time of the cast: i.e. a Package (PKG), Reader (RDR-a script to be read over B-roll footage by the anchor), etc.
• Tape ID: here is where you will designate the number of the specific tape to be cued and played at a specific time in the cast (i.e. Tape 1, Tape 2, etc.). These are the tapes that contain your PKG stories, RDR stories, etc.
• GFX: In this row and column, you will denote any specific computer-generated images, graphics, logos, etc. that will occur at a specific time, including any over-the-shoulder (O/S) images that will appear with an anchor on camera.
• ERT: this is the estimated run time of a specific story.
• SOT: (sound on tape): here is where you will designate the length of your SOTs.
• Total: here you will designate the total runtime of the overall story.
EZNews® rundowns also contain columns for Dummy Time and Segments. However, not every news station will employ the use of these elements. Consult with your fellow producers if you are unsure about utilizing these.
3. EZNews® Editor
Here is where you will you do all of your scriptwriting. As a Windows-based software, EZNews® is easier than ever to learn, particularly for users already familiar with Microsoft® Word and other text-editing programs. And just as with Microsoft® Word, the scriptwriter will be able to utilize similar text features, including bold, underline and italic. The Editor is linked to the EZNews® Rundown in that the producer can highlight and select a specific element of the rundown (i.e. a specific PKG or RDR), instantly pull up the script for that specific story and begin writing.
This EZNews® feature is one of the most useful components of the software, particularly for Broadcast Journalism students interested in anchoring. Once linked to TV studio cameras and computer monitors, the EZNews® prompter is capable of delivering a smooth-scrolling, reversible, multilingual prompter from which anchors will read their scripts in any font size desired. The prompter also contains a custom spell checking tool, keyboard and mouse interfacing options and “wheel mouse” speed control.
So if a degree in Broadcast Journalism sounds like the right college path for you, be sure to read about and practice with the EZNews® Production Automation system. Odds are you will be utilizing it, or a very similar program, for all of your newscast rundowns, scriptwriting, etc. And with a little practice, you’ll be better prepared for a news journalism career in the real world!
**Note: this information comes from the writer’s personal experience with the EZNews® News Production Automation System as a senior Broadcast Journalism student.