Newsroom lingo

NBCU Academy 101

NBC News NOW producer-editor Arleen Aguasvivas goes over some common vocabulary you might hear around the newsroom.

Watch the video above or read a portion of the transcript below.

What is a rundown?

The rundown is basically a road map for a news broadcast. It outlines every script and element that will be used on-air in a show in chronological order. When talking about the rundown, you might also hear people refer to the script as copy.

Video elements in a rundown

The scripted video sequence at the very beginning of a show previewing some of the stories covered in the show.

Anchor voice-overs (anchor VOs): When an anchor narrates a news story while video of the story is playing on screen. 

Guest segments: Guests are interviewed by an anchor or host. Within the guest segment, the actual conversation between the guest and the anchor is called a cross talk

Teases: These usually go right before a commercial break and promote stories that are coming up later in the broadcast, keeping viewers tuned in. 

Cut spots or packages: A package is a pre-recorded, pre-produced news story, usually presented by a correspondent. 

Elements of a package

Each package, or pre-produced news story, begins with a slate. That’s a full screen graphic that’s only up for a couple of frames for only the control room to see with some valuable information. 

On the slate you will see:

  • Slug: The story title.
  • TRT: Stands for “total running time,” or how long the package is from beginning to end.
  • Outcue: The final three or four words of the package. The outcue helps signal to the anchor and control room when the package is about to end so they can be ready for the next element in the rundown.  

Within a package you have even more elements:

  • Track: Recording of the reporter’s narration.
  • Reporter standup: When the reporter is on screen talking to the camera during the package.
  • B-roll: Video used to illustrate a story. Different clips of b-roll edited together are called a sequence.
  • NATs: This stands for “natural sound,” meaning ambient sound from the video. It could be an ambulance’s siren, protesters chanting or rain from a storm. 
  • SOT: This stands for “sound on tape,” which is another phrase for a soundbite.
  • MOS: Acronym for “man on the street” interview, which means multiple soundbites from different people on location. You can also call them “person on the street” interviews or “vox pops.”

Oftentimes when there is a package in the rundown, the reporter fronting the package bookends it with the “top and tail” or “top and tag.” The top is used to introduce the package and a tail/tag is used to close out of the package.

When wrapping the package, a reporter might include any editorial information that did not make it into the package, or any breaking news or upcoming events relating to the story.

Last comes the sig out, where the reporter gives their name and their news outlet or location. For example, “Gabe Gutierrez, NBC News.”

Non-video elements in a rundown

Stills: Still images, like photographs.

Graphics: Sometimes abbreviated as “GFX” in the script or rundown. Graphics call be full-screen or half screen.

Chyrons: Words onscreen that help identify speakers, locations or story topics. They are usually positioned at the lower third or upper third of the screen, so they are sometimes called “lower thirds” and “upper thirds.”