Syllabus Spring 2018

Television Journalism

Fall 2017 MCA 343

Professor Barbara Nevins Taylor

917 678 6069


Teaching Assistant: Sarah Bellingham


508 564 8810


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


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 and speaks about so-called “fake news” . . .

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, video on the web, 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.


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

Written text prepared by Professor Barbara Nevins Taylor

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


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.


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. Local news stations: NY1, WABC-7, WNBC 4, WCBS 2 WPIX 11, WNYW-Fox5 .


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.


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 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.



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.


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 book, what appears on our class website, information that I provide and what we discuss in class.

Your video work and writing assignments will get 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, January 29

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 sequences.

Shoot sequences with your phone, or device, to tell a :40-1:00 story on campus. Import your video to a flash or hard drive.

Bring the video back to class and we’ll show you how to bring it into your hard drive or flash drive.

Homework: Chapters 1 and 2 in Papper.

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

Who am I?

Where am I from?

Where am I going?

Exercise: 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.

Bring the exercise to class. Make sure you bring your flash drive or hard drive.

****You will need to bring your flash drive or hard drive to every class.

Week Two

Monday, February 5

Bring the video, you shot on campus and for the exercise, to class. Make sure you bring your flash drive or hard drive.


News Quiz and more: Papper, class discussion and notes on website.

Elements of a good video story with examples.

The language of TV news and visual journalism.

Forms of a TV story.

How you create a script for your story.

Opening Premier and bringing in the video you shot for your exercise.


Use the script template and write a story in the active voice. You’ll follow this script like a blueprint to edit your exercise and turn it into a video story.

Email the script by Monday, February 12 to me so that I can review it.


Chapter 3 in Papper

Week Three

Monday, February 12

Lincoln’s Birthday – No class-

Week Four

Monday, February 19

President’s Day – No class but we have class on Tuesday

Tuesday, February 20

News Quiz and more: Papper, class discussion and notes on website.

Make sure you bring your script and the video you shot for your exercise. You will need your flash drive or hard drive.

Edit the story you created for your exercise.


Homework: Chapter 4 in Papper

Week Five

Monday, February 26

News Quiz and more:  Papper, class discussion and notes on website.

Video examples.

The art of interviewing. Observing and listening.

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

We learn how to use the Canon XA-10

Shooting exercises.

Homework: Review material from Professor Nevins Taylor and Chapter 5 in Papper. Writing to video exercises. We write a VO and VO SOT from the material you shot for your exercise.

Week Six

Monday, March 5

News Quiz and more:  Papper, class discussion and notes on website.

How newsrooms gather news.

How to you find a good story for video. Who are your sources?

The reporter and the set-up sheet.

Review of VO and VO SOT with  video examples.

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

Camera basics and hands-on exercises.

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

Bring in an idea for the story that you want to report and produce. Write a story pitch of 250 words.

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

Create a set-up sheet for your story.

Week Seven

Monday, March 12

News Quiz and more:  Papper, class discussion and notes on website.

Video examples.

Review of your story ideas.

Covering a breaking news story with examples.

Reporting a live event. Presenting on camera.

You get to make a “live” presentation.

We’ll record your presentation and analyze it.

Homework: Begin to work on your story.

Homework: Read Papper 8 & 9.

Week Eight

Monday, March 19

News Quiz and more:  Papper, class discussion and notes on website.

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

What do you need to move your story forward?

Camera review and shooting exercises.

Homework: Review the website material.

Week Nine

Monday, March 26

News Quiz and more: Papper, class discussion and notes on website.

Writing to video with examples.

Video review with examples of good editing.

Make sure you bring video that you have shot for your story and we’ll review editing

Homework: continue shooting your story.

Spring Break

Monday April 2- We’re off!



Week Ten

Monday, April 9

News Quiz and more: Papper, class discussion and notes on website.

Investigative reporting. Sources and how you make a video story.

Bring your video, flash drive or hard drive to class. We’ll look at what you have so far.

Homework: Continue to report your story and transcribe your video.

Week Eleven

Monday, April 16

News Quiz and more: Papper, class discussion and notes on website.

Review of writing to video.

Story logic and organizing your report.

Begin to write your script.

Homework: Continue to report your story or write your script. Email  your script to me by Thursday April 12  at 5 p.m.

Week Twelve

Thursday, April 23

News Quiz and more: Papper, class discussion and notes on website.

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.

Review of your script and begin to edit.

Homework: Continue to work on stories. Shooting should be complete.


Week Thirteen

Monday, April 30

News Quiz and more: Papper, class discussion and notes on website.

Review of video with examples.

Work on stories.

Week Fourteen

Monday, May 7

Final edits for 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 with final edits.

We’ll view all the stories next week.

Week Fifteen

Monday, May 14

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.