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This is the final class for this semester’s TV News Writing course, JMSC 0051.
Today’s writing assignment: Myanmar Guerillas
Please write a package, less than 3 minutes long, plus a 15 second anchor intro and a 10-15 second tease to play earlier in a program, promoting the upcoming package.
Use the shot sheet provided and the video at this link:
See also the anchor script that’s been given to you. It would air just before your package intro, also on rleated Myanmar news.
Email to firstname.lastname@example.org by 17:00.
P.S. Please see previous weeks’ posts for updates, including writing examples from previous assignments.
Here is a summary of the main points you observed during the CNN field trip. Note that a question on the final exam will come from these notes.
CNN visit notes
Week 10 focused on writing “kicker” stories. A “kicker” is a story about something funny or odd that is often placed at the end of a broadcast.
A kicker story can be a package, if there’s enough of a story to tell and enough video to support a package, or it can be a shorter anchor script.
There are several challenges in writing kickers. Among them, being funny or clever in your writing, without being disrespectful to your subject or viewers. We must also remember that standard journalistic values still apply to kickers and features. We must use proper attribution and fact checking and we must not insert our own opinions into the stories.
We watched a few kicker-style stories by CNN’s Jeanne Moos and Andrew Brown. You can see some of Moos’s packages at this link, and elsewhere on the CNN website. http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12/22/gotta-watch-the-top-jeanne-moos-videos-of-2011/
For Monday, March 26, you will be expected to come to class prepared to make a short presentation on what you learned during the visit to CNN’s HK facilities. Be prepared to speak for a minute and a half to two minutes. Include at least 3 points of information that you did not know before the visit.
Some students will be asked to make their presentation during class. All presentations will be submitted by email at the start of class.
I look forward to hearing and reading them! –Matt
Please report to the Digital Media Lab on time next Monday, March 19, 2pm. We will first discuss our visit to CNN, then travel to Quarry Bay to see the network’s HK facilities. After the visit, you’ll be on your own. Transportation back to HKU will not be provided.
You will have the opportunity to listen to several CNN journalists and ask them questions about their various jobs. They may include persons from the Assignment Desk, Control Room and Video Editing Operations, and Line Producing, as well as potential others. In preparation for the visit, please think of questions to ask while you are there. You will be asked to write a short summary of what you’ve learned from the CNN visit.
Week Six began with a 12 question mid-term quiz. Grades will be given to you as soon as possible.
We continued to review the Top Stories assignment from two weeks earlier.
Here are some examples of well written scripts.
Top Stories, or “Headlines”, are very short versions of the day’s important news stories. They are usually about 15 seconds long – two or three sentences – just enough to tell the essential facts of the story.
We looked at some examples of well-written portions of Philippines Floods packages. These examples showed us good use of compelling video and sound at the start of the package. We also saw good script to shot matching and good use of video to tell the story, while short direct sentences gave us essential details. We’ll look at a few more in our next class and post examples here on the blog.
In preparation for the next writing assignment, we looked at a storytelling style sometimes called “Particular to General” or “Specific to General”. Using this structure, the script begins by referring to a specific individual or business or location, etc. We then learn that this particular person, place or thing is an example of something broader and more general.
If a package (or a newspaper article) ends by returning to the specific example used at the start, we call this a Full Circle Ending. The pattern is Specific=>General=>Specific.
This week’s writing assignment is to try the PTG (Particular To General) storytelling style on an agency package kit: Thailand HIV Drugs
The news agency shotsheet is here: Thai-HIV-Reuters-copy
A link to the agency video is here: You must use this link to see the video. It is not available to the public. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2tN4U-7Vf8
The assignment is to write 15–20 second intro for an anchor to read.
Then write a 1:30-2:00 minute package that starts with the HIV+ man near the end of the video feed, then tells the broader story of the ARV drugs being made available to HIV+ people in Thailand. We’ll correct & analyze your stories after reading week.
Send them to email@example.com Deadline: Wednesday March 7, 6pm
A make up/review class will be offered for those students who missed any or all of the first 3 weeks of JMSC 6092 and 0051. It will be held Wednesday 4pm-7pm Feb. 21 at JLG-01 (James Hsioung Lee Science Building). See you there. –Matt
Next week’s class will include a short mid-term exam. Multiple choice and short answer, based on the first 5 lectures.
In Week 5, we reviewed the Whitney Houston Obit writing assignment from the previous week, the OC/VO with a SOT. Overall, most writers identified the lead of the story correctly. Common problems otherwise included:
Failure to use the most current video first. The video of the coroner’s van and the scene at the rear of the hotel were the most current, most news-relevant pictures. They should be placed first, right after a one sentence lead ON CAMERA.
Using other pictures first, such as file footage of Houston, pushes the “today news” farther down in the story. This is what we call “burying the lead”, or, in this case, burying facts that should have directly followed the lead. Several writers immediately launched into a series of background facts, such as hit songs, awards, drug problems and her troubled marriage. Whether placed first in the story or later, many writers also did not include enough information about the “today” news.
The SOTs available for telling this story were fairly weak. The Clive Davis sound bite was the best one to use, although using others in addition to it could work. Writers who chose other SOTs instead of the Davis bite did not tell as strong a story.
Here are some examples of well-written Houston Obit scripts: Whitney Houston Obit examples
Here are the notes on the Week 5 lecture:
Week 5 notes JMSC 6092, 0051
This week’s writing assignment: A two-minute package – Floods in the Philippines. Use the Reuters video feed here:
and refer to the shot sheet for video and story info here:
Write a 15 – 20 second intro to be read by an anchor. Then, write a package that is roughly two minutes long, including the SOTs you choose. Use the standard two column format we’ve been using, putting shots from the shot sheet on the left side and your script on the right.
Deadline 23:59 Friday night. Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
This week’s homework is to choose one story from the wire copy handed out in class and write a short “top stories” version of it. “VO”, that is, all on video, no ON CAM. 15 seconds.
In Week 4’s lecture, we began by discussing the previous week’s assignment, the
:25 OC/VO OCCUPY DC script.
We addressed several issues that appeared to be confusing regarding the assignment and TV news writing in general.
Firstly, OC/VO means a script that begins with the anchor speaking on camera, then continuing to speak while the viewers see video pictures related to that story. Many of the scripts written for this assignment did not designate the first sentence as “on camera”.
Secondly, there was some misunderstanding regarding Week 3’s discussion of the present tense. While it can be preferable to cast certain sentences in the present tense, to reflect what is happening NOW, and to compliment the urgency and immediacy of TV news, it is not possible to write entirely in the present tense. That would sometimes misrepresent the facts and it would steer the language of our scripts in an un-conversational direction. We’ll revisit this present tense issue later in the semester, but for now, please just write your scripts the way you would tell a friend the news over lunch. That would include a variety of tenses.
Thirdly, we spoke about what to do when numbers in the wire sources vary. In this case, we saw 7 arrests, 8 arrests and 11 arrests. The rule of thumb is to use the highest figure for which there are two independent, credible sources. In this case, that would be 8. And, because one of our wires is higher than 8, there is some likelihood that the actual number of arrests will be greater than 8. Thus, we say “at least”. “At least eight protesters were arrested.” “More than”, as in “more than 7…” , is not preferable, as it is vague and can suggest exaggeration.
And finally, some writers misunderstood the difference between writing news to be accompanied by video pictures and simply describing the video pictures. There’s no need to describe what we can already see in the video. Rather, explain what is not clear by looking at the video. Eg., “A protester shouted angrily at police.” – while we see video of an angry protester shouting at police. Better: “Angry protesters resisted police efforts to move them out of McPherson Square.” Write the facts of the story and let the video support those facts.
Here are some examples of well-written Occupy DC scripts: Occupy examples
Please see this attachment for notes on the lecture content of Week 4.
Week 4 notes, JMSC 6092, 0051
These are the videos we used for this week’s assignment to write with a sound bite.
WHITNEY HOUSTON OBIT :45 PLUS SOUND BITE
OC/VO/SOT/OC or OC/VO/SOT/VO
Here are the notes for Week 3′s class. Your OC/VO OCCUPY DC writing assignments are being graded now and will be returned to you ASAP.
JMSC Notes for 0051, 6092, Week 3
Here are the links to the video we used in Week 3′s writing assignment.