Syllabus Fall 2021

MCA 34300-26570

Fall 2021

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.

barbaranevinstaylor@mac.com, bnevinstaylor@ccny.cuny.edu

917 678 6069

ConsumerMojo.com @consumermojo

COURSE DESCRIPTION

The NBC Universal News Group chose The City College of New York and the Colin Powell School to participate in the NBCU Fellows Academy program. Congratulations to those of you who are NBCU Fellows! I hope this partnership benefits all the students in the class and in our Journalism Minor.

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 we face.

In Afghanistan, during the summer of 2021, international journalists faced increasing danger from Taliban militants trying to retake the country as they rolled through the country into Kabul.

Afghan media workers, especially women, are under threat and the International Federation of Journalists has called on G-7 world leaders to protect them.

From the Philippines to Russia, Venezuela to Myanmar where a military coup essentially criminalized independent journalism, journalists face danger and still struggle do their jobs.

Here at home, the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker found that so far in 2021, 120 journalists have been assaulted. This includes a parent attacking a journalist at a Michigan school board meeting.  Twenty-nine had their equipment damaged, 54 were arrested while covering stories and 15 news organizations were subpoenaed. In 2021, the Trump administration secretly obtained phone records of journalists.

What does all this say? Many continue to pursue careers as journalists and to fulfill the mission enshrined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution to inform the public and hold the powerful to account.

Journalists began 2021 covering the last gasps of election deniers. On January 6, a mob seeking to overturn the election invaded the U.S. Capitol. The crowd, including armed 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.

Objectivity may seem impossible when it feels like events conspire against us. But it is a basic 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.

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

Coronavirus changed many things in our families, our friendships, our schools, and our 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 must 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 conflict, the constant dilemmas and the solutions that 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 dividing our nation, 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 video themselves and transmit the video 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 the reality made that 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 and in person, if possible, for most of the semester.

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.

READING

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.

WHAT YOU NEED

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. It is better to use a portable hard drive.

KEEPING UP WITH THE NEWS AND VIEWING AND LISTENING

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 4WCBS 2, WPIX 11, WNYW-Fox5 , : NY1, News 12, NBC News, CBS News, ABC News, PBSNewsHour as 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 ETIQUETTE

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.

CRITICISM

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

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 be late because of religious beliefs will be accommodated.

DEPARTMENT OBJECTIVES AND COURSE OUTCOMES

STUDENTS WILL LEARN:

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.

LATE AND INCOMPLETE ASSIGNMENTS

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.

TESTS AND QUIZZES

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.

GRADES

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, August 30

Meet and greet to learn what our class offers.

The responsibility of the individual journalist. Ethics, copyright and how it affects the material you use in a video.

The Language of TV news = TV Key Words

Types of TV Stories

    1. Package – Video Example

    2. VO – Example

    3. VO/SOT – Example

    4. Live-Shot — Example

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 CCNYtelevisionjournal.com.

     Try to familiarize yourself with the TV Keywords. It will help you as we move forward in the class.

Monday, September 6    No class.  Enjoy the weekend!

Week Two

Monday, September 13

News Quiz and quiz on keywords.

Video examples of good news stories: Breaking news.

You will each get an iPhone 12 Pro Max, a microphone, a shoulder pod, and a bag to put the gear in.

You’ll also receive tripods and flash drives.

We’ll go over how to use the gear.

NBCU Video shooting video with your phone.

Shooting in 5-shot sequences – Video examples

  1. class exercises.

Homework:

Pick a simple task that has movement: unpacking the groceries and putting them away, or someone in your family throwing out the trash and maybe separating the recycling.

Using your phone, shoot a series of 5-shot sequences that tell a story. They should tell a story without narration.

3.  Download your video. See the instructions on the website. https://ccnytelevisionjournalism.com/2020/01/25/how-to-bring-in-footage-from-your-phone/

 *Film students. Edit the sequence to make a coherent story. You don’t need narration. Just let the video do the job.

For non-film students. There’s no need to edit. we’ll show you how to download and bring the video into Premiere at our next class.

Edited work for film students due September 17 at 5 p.m.

Week Three

Monday, September 20

News Quiz

Examples of good video stories. We’ll look at an Emmy-nominated story by our guest speaker.

Guest Speaker: Ashley Schwartz-Lavares from ABC News

We’ll go into breakout groups. Film students with Premiere Pro background will work on writing.

All others will learn to bring video into Premiere Pro and begin to learn to edit.

Open Premier and bringing in the video.

Learning Premier Pro https://ccnytelevisionjournalism.com/2018/09/05/premiere-pro-editing-2/

Homework:

Read: Writing TV News Stories on the class website.

Read: How we write on the class website

Read: Clunky words and phrases to avoid.

Week Four

Monday, September 27

News Quiz

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

Discussion of investigative topics.

Where to look and who to contact.

Guest speaker possibly from NBC4

Using the writing templates, write a VO and a VO/SOT for the video that you shot.

Edit the video in class, or at home to match the script.

Homework:

Edit the video at home if you haven’t done it in class.

Read: Interview Techniques on the class website

Week Five

Monday, October 4

News Quiz

Video examples of good interviewing.

Interviewing exercise

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

Editing Review.

Homework:

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

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

Monday October 11 – Columbus Day – College Closed

Week Six

Monday, October 18

News Quiz

Covering Sports

Guest Speaker: Anthony Tart from SNY

Manny Milan, Former Sports Illustrated Photographer

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.

Homework:

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

  1. Who you will 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 Seven

Monday, October 25

News Quiz

Discussion of your story ideas.

What it takes to be a good live reporter. Video examples.

Guest speaker possibly from NBC4 or Telemundo.

Homework:

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 Eight

Monday, November 1

News Quiz

Video examples of live reporting.

Now it’s your turn. You’ll do live reports from where you sit or stand.

Review of stories and suggestions for shooting, interviewing, writing, and editing.

Homework

Work on your stories.

Week Nine

Monday, November 8

News Quiz

Writing to video.

Reviewing your video and logging

Story logic and organizing your report.

Create an outline for your story.

Homework: Begin to work on your story.

Week Ten  

Monday, November 15

News Quiz

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

What do you need to move your story forward?

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

Editing — How to make a graphic in Premiere.

Homework: Continue to work on stories.

Week Eleven

Monday, November 22

News Quiz

Guest speaker possibly from NBC4 or Telemundo.

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 Twelve

Monday, November 29

News Quiz

Rough draft of your story is due.

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

Week Thirteen

Monday, December 6

News Quiz

Last minute story tweaks.

Week Fourteen

Monday, December 13   Last day of class

Final presentation of stories. Your stories will serve as your final exam. Congratulations!!!