How to make a TV news pack

If you are studying journalism, you’re likely to be tasked with making a TV package. 

Here is some advice about how to do just that from Andrew Du, a student whose final semester was complicated by getting a job at Channel 7 and then moving to Channel 9.


First up, know the professional jargon.

SLUG – What the story is called

PACK – The TV news story (usually 1m20s long) – read by the journalists with grabs.

RVO or LVO – Reader or live voice over, a story read entirely by the presenter.

VOS or VSV – A story read by the presenter but also has a grab from a talent.

GRAB – interview with a talent

LIVE CROSS – live cross from a journalist

SUPERS – names of journalists or talent that show up on screen

TALENT – Interviewees

SOTS – sounds on tape


Writing an introduction for a TV news package

An introduction is read by the presenter from the news desk and should capture the viewers’ attention and provide them with essential information about the story, just don’t give everything away just yet.

You should always write your introduction first, and it should be between 12 to 20 seconds long. Writing your introduction first will help you avoid duplicating ideas between your intro and the start of your pack. It will also give you a clear direction for your story.

  1. Start with a hook

You can start your introduction with a catchy phrase or a thought-provoking question to keep your viewers interested.

  1. Context

It’s like a teaser, provide your audience with a summary of what they can expect to see your story and highlight key points that will be included in the story.

  1. Tone

Write in a present tense and conversational tone to make it more immediate and to engage your viewers.

  1. Viewers

Tailor your introduction to your audience. Ask yourself who is watching, and what their concerns may be. This will help you craft your introduction, so it resonates with them.

Here is an example:

Experts are developing cutting edge technology, preparing regional health workers with experience in life and death situations.

It would take students to another world, simulating real-life medical procedures, without any fatal consequences.

Writing your TV news package

A TV news pack is a pre-recorded story that is narrated by the reporter and is typically between 1 to 2 minutes long. It includes essential information (5 W’s and H) and follows a specific format and structure. The structure of your script should typically keep to the inverted pyramid style of news.

Chart, funnel chart

You can start the pack with a tease line from the reporter, a grab to start, or a bit of natural sound that will draw people in.

TV news packs include visuals, such as images, videos, and graphics, to support the story and to make it more engaging for the viewers. Each pack needs to be precisely timed to fit into the news organisation’s designated slots in the program.

You will generally need a minimum of two talents in your story. Here is an example of a pack script:

Text, table

I spoke to another journalist who’s been on the field for a year, and these are some tips he gave me:

Build relationships

The hardest part is finding stories, but if you work hard on building contacts, it gets easier. After an interview, give your contact details to the talent and tell them to contact you if they have any stories in the future. One journalist said by doing so, a lot have taken him up on this offer and that’s how he’s got some of his best stories, rather than what comes through press releases in the morning.

  • Start by building your contact list from day one – you may never know when you’ll have to reach out to them again, one journalist said he collected 120 contacts in just 3 months.
  • When you’re struggling to find a story, going through your list might give you some inspiration and checking in with people you haven’t in a while will often give you something to go on. He says many of his stories come from people reaching out, rather than vice versa which is great.
  • No matter how good your writing is the grabs from who you interview will always make the story. Building some rapport with who you’re interviewing will make a huge difference. Lots of people are nervous when you’re interviewing them. Before you start the interview don’t be afraid to tell them they can stop to take a breath if they need it or start an answer again if they want to. They’ll relax and then give you much better grabs!
  • Finally, always write with your camera operator in mind. It’s easy to get caught up in a story and a want to perfect it, but the script is only half the story. Leave plenty of time for your camos to cut and edit the vision together, and the product will be so much better. Try to always think about your vision when writing as well, so that you don’t leave a camo stuck with a sentence they don’t have any vision for. The camos are so appreciative when you consider them and building a good working relationship with them makes your work easier and your content better.

Nine tips for doing great pieces to camera and live crosses

  1. This is your time to shine – get creative!
  2. Depending on the context of your story… Jump in cars, pat the animals, eat the food, have fun, and make memories – it’s a great job.
  3. Different reporters have their own methods for this, it’s a trial-and-error process, you just need to find what works for you.
  4. What I find works for me is memorising key points, names, and places, rather than word for word. If you have time, it’s always handy to print out two copies of your script – just in case one blows away, but be mindful of paper noise.
  5. When you’re doing a live cross or piece to camera, there are a few things you should consider.
  6. As a journalist who is starting out, just be mindful of some self-soothing behaviours you might adopt when you’re nervous.
  7. Some people tend to sway from side to side, rocking heel to toe, abnormal blinking, lip, and cheek biting, and fiddling with their face.
  8. Most importantly, don’t forget to breathe… Just remember, you’re talking to the presenter and camera operator – if you make a mistake, it’s okay, just keep going.
  9. When I’m nervous, I take some slow deep breaths – 4 breaths in and 6 breaths out. You got this!

Good luck with your news packs.