Syllabus

Television Journalism

Fall 2017 MCA 343

Professor Barbara Nevins Taylor

http://www.consumermojo.com

bnevinstaylor@ccny.cuny.edu

barbaranevinstaylor@mac.com

917 678 6069

Class Meets: Mondays from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Shepherd Hall-S-462

Prerequisite: MCA 333 or department consent

Office Hours: one hour before class

 

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION

What is news?

Why should we care about the truth?

How do serious television, digital and print news organizations report and present unbiased information in a world where fake news, alternative facts and outright lies scream for attention and distort the national conversation? What do we do when the President of the United States tweets that reporters are “the enemy of the people,” repeatedly tweets about so-called “fake news” . . .

And then in a speech in Phoenix, Arizona on August 23, 2017 calls journalists, “sick people,” who “don’t like our country,” and “are trying to take away our history.” Trump TV link to the full speech here.

These questions go to the heart of the discussion among American journalists about the function of journalism and our constitutional mandate to report and report truthfully.  A year ago, we might have talked about something else. But we cannot ignore the issues and threats to a free press when the President of the United States disparages the work we do and criticizes journalists for reporting the truth.

Journalists have an historical imperative to pursue the truth and provide information to the American public.

The members of the United States Congress, in 1789, recognized the importance of a free press when it approved the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing freedom of the press. By 1791, the American public agreed and all states ratified the First Amendment as part of the Bill of Rights.

Reputable news organizations understand the responsibility and the privilege that comes with our jobs. Most develop a code of ethics that serves as the bedrock for their work and guides the behavior of all employees. Many journalists belong to professional societies and groups that also have ethics guidelines, which reinforce the notion that basic decency underlies everything we do.

Thoughtful journalists admit that personal experiences can color our perspective and blur our vision. It’s human nature. But most make the effort to approach every story with clear-eyed honesty

Whether we report for television, the web, digital or print, our mission remains the same. We tell the truth. We report facts as objectively as possible.

In this course, we will focus on honesty and ethics as you analyze the work of TV journalists and learn the crafts of writing, shooting video, editing video, producing and presenting a news story.

During this semester, each class will have two goals: to look at television news and events from an academic and analytical perspective, and to provide instruction that gives you a hands-on approach to producing visually compelling news stories.

You’ll learn to use the active voice to write clearly and concisely for broadcast, visual and digital media; how to gather information; how to hone your interviewing skills, how to shoot video on a traditional camera and your phone; how to write, edit, narrate, produce and present a television news story. In addition to producing at least one TV news package, you’ll also produce a V.O., a V.O. SOT and a live report.

Because social media plays a big role in disseminating information, we’ll also explore opportunities to use social media to share our stories and ideas.

Be prepared to commit yourself to learning the storytelling crafts and producing solid journalism that will make you proud.

READING MATERIAL

Broadcast News Writing & Stylebook, Sixth Edition or earlier, by Robert A. Papper, published by Pearson.

Written text prepared by Professor Barbara Nevins Taylor

WHAT YOU NEED TO BRING

You’ll need a notepad for reporting.

Please bring audio headsets to class so that you can concentrate on your work without disturbing your classmates. You’ll also need the headsets when you work in the field.

It’s also a good idea to purchase a portable hard drive to save your work from week to week. Don’t count on your work remaining on the desktop.

KEEPING UP WITH THE NEWS AND VIEWING AND LISTENING

We need 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 videos analytically, including local and network news broadcasts, as well as CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, BBC and Vice online or on HBO at least twice a week. You might want to pay special attention to ABC-7 Eyewitness News because we’ll visit the newsroom on September 25th.

CLASS ETIQUETTE

The word multitasking dates back to1996 as computer terminology and maybe 1954 in non-computer language, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. But in practical terms most of us can only do one thing at a time. We can sequence tasks and do one thing after another and remember when we should do it, but we need to focus on one thing at a time.

In this class, we need to apply total focus to tasks at hand including lectures.

Please turn off your phones and devices when class starts.

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 bring 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.

DEPARTMENT OBJECTIVES AND COURSE OUTCOMES

STUDENTS WILL LEARN:

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

Use analytical skills to evaluate the construction of news stories and newscasts

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 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 the historical information and the practical details from the texts.

Your video work and writing assignments will get 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 28

Meet and greet to learn what our class offers.

Write a three-paragraph, 200-250 word essay to answer these questions:

Who am I?

Where am I from?

Where am I going?

The responsibility of the individual journalist.

Listening exercise.

How do we tell stories with video. Building a story around characters.

Setting up a shot to get the best image.

Homework: Chapters 1 and 2 in Papper.

Find a story on campus or in your neighborhood that you can tell in about one minute, and shoot it with your phone, device or camera. Take notes. Think about how you want to shape this report.

Week Two

Monday, September 4

We’re off. No class

 

Week Three

Monday, September 11

Quiz to review reading material and class discussion.

Review of coverage of 9/11

Active writing exercises using the material that you gathered in the field.

We start to learn how to edit with Premier and import the video from your story.

Homework: Chapter 3 in Papper

 

Week Four

Monday, September 18.

The language of TV news and visual journalism.

Writing to video exercises. We write a VO and VO SOT from your reporting.

Homework: Chapter 4 in Papper

 

Week Five

Monday, September 25

We visit ABC7 and tour the newsroom and studio.

Homework: Review material from Professor Nevins Taylor and Chapter 5 in Papper.

 

Week Six

Monday, October 2

Quiz on Papper, News and ABC7 tour.

Discussion of what it takes to make your story idea come to life.

Finding sources for your stories.

Camera basics and hands-on exercises.

Homework: Review of material from Professor Nevins Taylor. Read Chapters 6 & 7 in Papper.

 

Week Seven

Monday, October 9

We’re off for Columbus Day

 

Week Eight

Monday, October 16

Quiz on Papper and handout material

A breakdown of television news stories and analysis, with examples.

Art of the Interview with examples and exercises

Camera review and shooting exercises.

The principles of shooting and framing shots, including the right way to shoot an interview. Hands-on exercises.

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Homework: Review material from Professor Nevins Taylor.

Find a news story in your neighborhood or on campus that you want to report. Bring the who, what, why, when, etc. Write a story pitch of 250 words.

What makes it a news story?
Who does it involve?
What makes it relevant? Why should we care? And what makes it timely?
How will you tell the story?

 

Week Nine

Monday, October 23

Quiz on reading material and class discussion

Shooting exercises.

Discussion about setting up your video stories.

Consider the theme of your story.

Fundamentals of editing with any system.

Editing with Premier. Hands-on exercises.

Homework: Read Papper 8 & 9.

Begin to set up and shoot your first story.

 

Week Ten

Monday, October 30

Covering a breaking news story.

Live reporting and examples.

You get to report Live.

We’ll review your work.

Homework: Begin to report your story.

 

Week Eleven

Monday, November 6

Quiz on Papper reading.

Research sources for investigative reporting

Review of writing to video.

Story logic and organizing your report.

Review of what you have gathered so far.

Homework: Continue to report your story.

 

Week Twelve

Thursday, November 30

Quiz

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

A look at business reporting with examples.

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

Creating an outline for your story.

Homework: Continue to work on stories. Shooting should be complete by the next class. Bring a story outline to class.

 

Week Thirteen

Monday, November 20

A career counselor will visit the class and help you with resume writing and job interview skills. Attendance is mandatory.

 

Week Fourteen

Monday, November 27

Investigative and enterprise reporting with examples.

Editing your story.

Homework: continue to work on your story. We head to the finish line. Consider what you need to do to complete your story.

 

Week Fifteen

Monday, December 4

Covering weather and the environment.

Editing your story.

This is the last chance. You must complete your story for the class to view next week.

Review and work on your stories.

 

Week Sixteen

Monday, December 11

Last day of class and we review all the stories!!

Thanks for studying TV journalism.

Present your stories and celebrate the completion of a successful term.