Syllabus Spring 2021

MCA 34300-26570

Professor Barbara Nevins Taylor

Mondays 3:30 to 6 p.m.

Online via Zoom

Syllabus for Television/Video Journalism MCA 34300 

by Barbara Nevins Taylor is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

Prerequisite: MCA 333 or department consent.

Office Hours: One hour before or after class. Text or email for appointments during these hours and at any other time.,

917 678 6069 @consumermojo

Class website: CCNYTelevisionJournalism


The NBC Universal News Group chose The City College of New York and the Colin Powell School to participate in a program it calls NBCU. We hope it will benefit students in this and our other journalism classes.

NBCU will offer on-campus training, education and online programming. NBC journalists will talk to our classes and we expect that students will have the opportunity to apply for NBC fellowships. This is new and we don’t have all the details yet, but we will tell you about them as soon as we know more.

Beyond this exciting partnership, we share a mission with journalists in New York City, throughout the U.S. and the world to tell video stories that have meaning and impact. This is a difficult time for all journalists and it’s important to remember the challenges that we face.

Journalists began 2021 covering the last gasps of election deniers. Then on January 6, an armed invasion of the U.S. Capitol by white supremacists, conspiracy theorists and neo-Nazis, put members of the Washington press corps in danger along with senators and representatives. Yet journalists on the scene had to report about the events of the day and tell it straight. That’s hard, but most understand the need to take a step back and try to report as objectively as we can.

So many things seem personal, and objectivity may seem like an alien concept when it feels like events conspire against us. But it is a basic principle of principled journalism and I ask you to do your best to keep it in mind and put it into practice in your reporting. The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) offers an excellent code of ethics.

COVID-19 posed as many challenges as the election and its aftermath, maybe more.

Coronavirus changed many things in our families, our friendships, our schools and communities. It made us painfully aware of the fragility of life and how important it is to work together for the common good. Many of us learned and acknowledged that we have to alter our behavior if we want to survive and prevent others from getting sick. Yet others decided to ignore the advice of scientists and continue life as usual.

Fear of the life-threatening virus, the conflicts, the constant dilemmas and the solutions when they appear, may make you scared, angry, frustrated or depressed. But they also make great stories and that’s where journalists do their best work, if they don’t get stuck in the middle.

Journalists, TV and video journalists especially, find themselves in an important role during this historic and fraught time. We need to tell the stories of life as we are living it now, of the politics tearing our nation apart, of the science and the doubters and other important issues.  But we also need to make sure that we remain safe and do not endanger anyone else.

Some news organizations, Vice, for example, sent everyone home when at least one staffer contracted COVID-19 in March 2020. Reporters, producers and editors worked from home and learned to have their subjects shoot video of themselves and transmit it to the producers and reporters.

Other news organizations kept reporters on the streets or sent them back after lockdown periods. Journalists in the U.S. and all over the world contracted the virus as it spread. Some recovered, many did not. But journalists kept working. In June, the on-camera murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis unleashed a nationwide civil rights movement and put video journalists in the center of protests. They wore masks and tried to keep a distance, but that often was impossible.

TV and video journalists continue to do an excellent job, perhaps better than ever. They offer examples of grace under pressure and the ever-challenging job of being in the center of things, while commenting as an observer.

That’s where you and this class come in. We will work together online for most of the semester. It is possible that we can return to campus to pick up professional cameras and learn how to use them. That’s just a possibility and it’s likely that we won’t know until we get the greenlight, if we do.

We’ll meet every Monday at 3:30 p.m. on Zoom. You’ll learn to report using video, the techniques of live reporting, the important crafts of writing for video, interviewing, shooting, and editing. We’ll also take a dive into the history of TV news and the cultural shifts that produced the evolving technology and practices.

You’ll learn how to report and use video to tell a relevant journalistic story in a minute or two. This short form of video journalism easily translates to other platforms and social media and we’ll tailor videos for all possible uses. But our emphasis will always focus on journalism and the facts that you gather.

We’ll also have a TV/video professional Zoom in as a guest speaker for some of our classes. The schedule will depend upon their availability.


We will use the class website CCNYtelevisionjournalism for our reading material. The website features instruction for writing, shooting and editing. It will substitute for a textbook and offer us more flexibility. This class is part of the CUNY Open Educational Resources (OER) program.

Download the Associated Press – AP app. It’s free

Download the Spectrum News app. For now it’s free and it offers NY1 stories, which are worth following.


You’ll need a notepad for reporting.

We have USB flash drives for you to save your work and will get them to you as soon as possible.


This is a news class, and it helps to watch the news to understand how producers construct a newscast and how reporters create video stories and report live. Please begin to watch and view WNBC 4,  WCBS 2, WPIX 11, WNYW-Fox5 , : NY1, News 12, NBC News, CBS News, ABC News, PBSNewsHouras well as CNN, MSNBC, FOX News,  BBCWorld News America and Vice online.

The Syllabus May Change

Because this is a news class, the syllabus may change to reflect events. Journalists are flexible.


Class online presents a lot of challenges. Some of you may want to hide your “self view.” Please don’t. It removes you from the on-screen action, which may be your goal, but it separates you from me and the rest of the class. So let’s stay together. Together is an important word this year. If you are using the phone feature of Zoom, then you obviously won’t appear on screen and that’s fine.

If you have a compelling reason for hiding your screen, please let me know via text or email.

You can use the chat function to ask general questions. Otherwise, I hope that you will participate fully.


We’ll be viewing and analyzing the work of classmates, and your courtesy and participation is required. Please remember that criticism is not a personal attack. We will talk about the work candidly and this will help your professional growth.


Attendance is mandatory. Broadcasting operates on deadline, so you have the chance to begin to develop good habits. We’ll treat our class professionally as we would treat a job in broadcasting, so attend all classes. Please arrive on time. Your attendance, punctuality, and class participation will be considered in your grade. If there is an emergency and you cannot attend a class, please email me. If you are absent four times, you will fail.

Two unexcused absences will result in a lower grade.

Four or more absences and we will ask you to withdraw from the class.

You must email a note from a doctor, a court of law, a fire fighter or a funeral director for an excused absence.

Students who must miss class or must be late because of religious beliefs will be accommodated.



Social history as they explore the creation of broadcasting and evolution of television news.

How to use analytical skills to evaluate how news stories and newscasts are constructed.

How to work ethically to find the truth, pursue accuracy, fairness and diversity, and report strong news stories.

How to think creatively, independently and critically about local and world events.

How to gather information, synthesize complicated details and craft a succinct, logical story with a beginning, middle and end.

How to develop interviewing skills and use them effectively.

The crafts of writing, reporting, shooting video or visuals, editing and presenting a news story.

How to work as part of a team and collaborate with others to produce and report news stories.


In journalism deadlines count. You need to complete your work and assignments to meet every deadline. Please consult with me if you have a problem making a deadline. But remember, in life excuses can’t compete with excellent work.


Because we plan to cover a great deal in a short amount of time, we’ll have a quiz or test at the beginning of every class. It will cover news, readings from the website and whatever I provide to the class.

Your video work and writing assignments will be graded as tests and your final TV news package will serve as your final exam.


Attendance                  Required

Punctuality                   Required

Reading                       Required

Participation, Tests

And Homework            20 Percent

Writing                          20 Percent

Reporting, Shooting,

Editing and Producing   20 Percent

Your video stories          40 Percent

Course Calendar

Week One 

Monday, February 1

Meet and greet to learn what our class offers.

The responsibility of the individual journalist.

How do we tell stories with video.

Setting up a shot to get the best image.

Shooting an interview.

Shooting sequences.

  1. Homework: Read Video Storytelling on

2.  Write a three-paragraph, 300-word essay to answer these questions:

Who am I?

Where am I from?

Where am I going?

Deadline, Wednesday, February 3 at 5 p.m.

3.  Download your video. See the instructions on the website.

 No need to edit. We will show you how to bring your video into Premiere next week.

You will get a flash drive.

4.  Try to familiarize yourself with the TV Keywords. It will help you down the line if you start now. 

Week Two

Monday, February 8

Bring the video you shot to class.

Quiz on readings and news

The language of TV news and visual journalism.

Elements of a good video story with video examples.

Open Premier and bringing in the video.

Learning Premier Pro


Read: Writing TV News Stories on the class website.

Read: How we write on the class website

Week Three

Monday, February 15 


Week Four

Monday, February 22

News Quiz

Covering breaking news with examples.

Three forms of TV stories with video examples.

Forms of TV video stories: VO and VO SOT with video examples.

Write a VO and VO SOT from the material you shot for your exercise.

You edit a VO and VO SOT using your exercise video.

How to create a script for your story using the template provided.


Read: Clunky words and phrases to avoid.

Week Five

Monday, March 1

News Quiz

Investigative reporting. Sources and resources, examples of strong investigative reporting.

Where to look and who to contact.

Show the work you have done so far.


Read: Interview Techniques on the class website

Week Six

Monday, March 8

News Quiz

Video examples of good interviewing.

Interviewing exercise

A quick and dirty guide to the history of TV news.


Read:  What Makes a Good Story on the class website.

Think about the story that you would like to report for your big story.

Week Seven

Monday, March 15

News Quiz

Review of What Makes a Good story.

Story idea discussion.

We want to borrow an idea from the film industry and write the logline of the story in one sentence. What is your story about?

  • What makes it a news story?
  • Why is it relevant?
  • Why would we watch it?
  • Who will you interview?
  • What footage will you shoot?

Resources for story contacts.

Video examples of live reporting.

Guest Speaker TBA


Research your story idea. Come up with a plan for shooting. Write a brief set-up sheet that outlines

  1. Who will you interview?
  2. What b-roll will you shoot?
  3. Where will you shoot?
  4. When will you shoot?
  5. How will you stay safe?

Week Eight

Monday, March 22

News Quiz

Discussion of your story ideas.


Prepare to do a “live” report via Zoom during class. Pick something simple to report about. You will talk directly to the greenlight on your computer. No video is needed.

Read information about Reporting Live on the class website.

Week Nine

Monday, March 29

Spring Break

Week Ten

Monday,  April 12

News Quiz

You get to make a “live” presentation.

Writing to video.

Story logic and organizing your report.

Create an outline for your story.

Homework: Begin to work on your story.

Week Eleven

Monday, April 19

News Quiz

A review of video stories. What video have you shot?

What do you need to move your story forward?

Ethics, copyright and how it affects the material you use in a video.

Using graphics and data in a video story for trends and surveys.

How to make a graphic in Premiere.

Homework: Continue to work on stories.

Week Twelve

Monday, April 26

News Quiz

Script review. Is your script ready? Have you shot everything you need for your story?

Make sure you bring video that you have shot for your story and we’ll talk about constructing your stories.

Finding where to start your story. Looking for the beginning, middle and end.

Homework: Continue to work on your story.

 Week Thirteen

Monday, May 3

News Quiz

Rough draft of your story is due.

We’ll review your stories and suggest necessary edits and changes.

 Week Fourteen

Monday, May 10

News Quiz

Last minute story tweaks.

Week Fifteen

Monday, May 17  

Last day of class

Final presentation of stories.

Your stories will serve as your final exam. Congratulations!!!