JMSC 0051 Television News and Writing
Journalism and Media Studies Centre
The University of Hong Kong
Instructor: Matt Walsh (email@example.com).
Office hours: Eliot Hall 114, by appointment
Class time and location:
Monday 14:00 to 16:55 JMSC Digital Media Lab, G01B Eliot Hall
Syllabus subject to change. [As of January 1, 2012]
This course is designed to introduce the fundamentals of video news writing and production as practiced at an international level. This is a practical course that includes frequent writing assignments to be done during class time and as homework. Successful completion of this course should give the student a solid, overall understanding of how the TV/video news process works – from news gathering, to the various aspects of news writing and production. The course showcases many video examples for purposes of instruction and discussion.
JMSC 0051 begins with the students sharing their views and viewing habits on TV news, and an overview lecture on the history of broadcast news. The course goes on to explain how television news rooms operate to create news programming, and the challenges, advantages and problems of today’s multi-platform environment.
Writing is at the core of all news and documentary production and the course provides intensive practical training in the unique writing techniques of video news and storytelling. Participants will learn essential video storytelling formats, how to leverage video and sound to tell clear, compelling stories, and how to produce engaging video news presentations, live and recorded. In class, emphasis is on writing to deadline, simulating conditions in a broadcast news room. Skills such as speaking to camera without a written script will also be covered. Newer distribution platforms will be included in lectures and exercises, preparing students for the varied demands on today’s multi-tasking, multi-media journalists.
Material covered in JMSC 0051 will compliment and expand on principles taught in JMSC 0052 TV News Production.
By the end of the semester, the student should demonstrate the following:
- A basic understanding of the history and development of the TV news industry.
- Ability to critically evaluate news programming from a journalist and producer’s standpoint
- An understanding of how TV news gathering and production work.
- Good skills in broadcast news writing. This includes video news packages, shorter stories and all elements that make up a news bulletin.
Requirements and grades:
Fifty percent of the student’s grade will be based on the writing exercises taken home or completed in the class workshops to deadline.
Forty percent of the student’s grade will be based on the results of two short examinations to be conducted at mid-term and during the final session of the course.
Ten percent of the student’s grade will be determined by attendance and class participation.
All assignments must be written on Microsoft Word and sent to the instructor as e-mail attachments. Name, e-mail contact and sub-class indication must be in each e-mail submission and on the Word attachments. They must be written in television broadcast style (two columns, video description on the left, text on the right in upper/lower case and double-spaced). All written work must be submitted to achieve a passing grade.
All students will be expected to be regular viewers of English language television news: including the CBS Evening News (seen mornings at 7:30 on ATV World), ABC World News (seen mornings at 7:30 on TVB Pearl) and the 24 hour news channels BBC World, CNNI, or Al Jazeera English. Also of interest on cable, satellite or via Internet are SKY News, ABC Australia, CCTV News, RT, France 24, and NHK World. These channels are available through Hong Kong NOW TV or I-Cable.
Any student who is not able to hear or see English language news programming should consult the instructor.
Details, changes in syllabus, notices, comments on work, lecture notes, etc. will be published online on the instructors Weblog.
Students should check this website at least once a week.
While there are no required texts for this course, there are a number of books that students may find useful.
“Writing Broadcast News: Shorter, Sharper, Stronger” by Mervin Block, Bonus Books, 1997 (JMSC)
“The Television News Handbook” by Vin Ray, 2003 MacMillan (L)
(out of print but photocopied excerpts will be made available)
“Broadcast News Writing Stylebook” by Robert Papper, Third Edition, Allyn and Bacon (L)
“Broadcast Journalism: Techniques of Radio and Television News” by Andrew Boyd, 2001, Focal Press. (L)
“Broadcast News Handbook” by Brad Kalbfeld, Associated Press, 2001. (JMSC)
“The Television History Book” Michele Hilmes (ed) British Film Institute, 2003 (L)
Of Historical interest for Lecture 3
China Turned On: Television, Reform, and Resistance by James Lull, Routledge, 1991 (L)
Books are available through the University library (U) and some can be borrowed for short periods from the JMSC front office (JMSC) – Monday through Friday. Students may also purchase these books through Amazon dot com.
COURSE SCHEDULE – JMSC 0051, Spring 2012
(Subject to change depending on time, level of class experience, & availability of facilities)
Week 1 (January 16)
Review of class experience, expectations and evaluation standards. Students share their views on TV/video news. A brief history of the development of TV/video news.
Audio: Hindenburg disaster; Video: BBC newsreel.
Writing exercise #1, in class (un-graded, for evaluation purposes)
“State of the News Media 2004, 2005” Content Analysis American Cable TV News:
“Fade to Black”: An opinion piece from the Columbia Journalism Review on the changing use of video in video news. http://www.cjr.org/feature/fade_to_black.php
(Note: There are no classes the week of January 23 because of Lunar New Year)
Week 2 (January 30)
How TV News Works. Workflow in a TV newsroom and at a TV network.
Technical operations vs. editorial staff; news gathering vs. news production;
TV news job descriptions; TV industry terms and jargon;
24 x 7 News vs. 2 x 7 News. The development of all news television.
Changes in TV news and the impact of convergence and new platforms.
The multi-tasking, multi-platform, multi-media reporter.
Prioritizing a news bulletin – stacking a rundown. News judgment vs. programming demands; Video: We watch a CNN bulletin, with its rundown.
Week 3 (February 6)
Writing TV News. The Basic Rules: Clear, Short, Simple, Conversational.
Differences between print and broadcast – story selection, story angle, writing style. Writing for the ear vs. writing for the eye. Origins and changes in good television writing. Video: the Murrow tradition in America.
Basic script types– ON CAM, OC/VO, OC/VO/SOT, PACKAGE, LIVE SHOTS, etc;
Video and written examples. Writing Exercise #2 – OC/VO – (in class and take home)
Week 4 (February 13)
Writing with sound – sound bites and natural sound; Why do we do interviews? Gathering sound bites, interviewing strategies and techniques.
Writing exercise #3, in class– OC/VO/SOT/OC. Review.
Writing opens, teases, headlines, graphics, tweets, crawls.
The differences between news stories and news teases. The differences between writing for the voice and writing for text and graphics.
Writing exercise #4, take home – write a :20 “headlines” story from wires provided.
Week 5 (February 20)
Intro to news packages – Hard News and Disaster Reporting.
Video: Writing for Broadcasting. UniversityofSouthern CaliforniaAnnenbergVTR.
Writing to picture; How to select and order visuals; use of sound in packages;
Writing to dramatic pictures. Letting stories “breath.”
Introduction to Wire Service Video
Good and bad practices in disaster reporting. Video:BBCvs TVB
Writing Exercise #5 – two minute package from agency video (take home)
Week 6 (February 27)
Mid-term exam. Multiple choice and short sentence answers based on class lectures
and required readings. Questions will focus on history of broadcasting, basic principles
and vocabulary. Review last week’s package writing exercise
Writing exercise #6 – two minute package from agency video. Include a tease for the
package, a headline as it would appear above an online story, a :20 “top stories” version
of the story, and a 140 character or less version as a “tweet”.
[Note: there are no classes the week of March 5 due to “Reading Week.”]
Week 7 (March 12)
Storytelling techniques. News is always about people. Using an individual to tell a
broader story. Humanize your stories. Character development, PTG, focus, hook, flow, PPCF, wrap. Impact, pacing, finding the strongest video, begin a package with strong images and sound, making the most out of poor video.
Review key findings from Writing Exercise #6.
Week 8 (March 20)
Class visits the HK production facilities of CNN International in Quarry Bay.
Students will be expected to ask questions while at CNN and take notes on the answers
and other discoveries from the visit.
Week 9 (March 27)
Analyze findings from CNN field trip.
Anchoring/presenting, live shots, pieces to camera. A review of the best practices for presenting to camera. Class takes part in speaking to camera exercise.
Week 10 (April 2)
Writing the lighter feature. The “Kicker.” Having fun. The turn of a phrase.
Writing Exercise #7 – a 1:30 show closer from agency video. Start in class, take home.
[Note: there are no classes on April 9 due to a holiday]
Week 11 (April 16)
Review last week’s kicker packages, review course material and exam prep.
Week 12 (April 23)
Final exam and writing assignment.
- A 20 question multiple choice and short essay answer exam based mainly on the early lectures and required readings.
- A writing exercise to wire service video against strict deadlinefv