Course Description The goals of the USC Annenberg School of Journalism are to sharpen your writing, reporting, and critical thinking skills, as well as teach you about news values, judgment and ethics, and how to accurately report and write about a diverse world on deadline. We believe students should begin with learning about what makes a story newsworthy, what elements should be included in basic news stories, and which multimedia elements should be included. You are expected to come to class on time, prepared (i.e., having done readings and homework assignments), and ready to discuss various news-related topics.
We learn best by doing. So expect weekly in-class and homework assignments. Some of the assignments you pursue in this class will be shared with J202 Newswriting: Print to help you develop your cross platform skills. All homework assignments should be turned in to the instructor no later than one week after they are assigned (i.e., they are due at the next class session). Sometimes, deadlines will be even tighter. Some of the assignments you pursue in this class will be shared with J202 Newswriting: Print to help you develop your cross platform skills.
All USC Annenberg journalism students benefit enormously from the new Annenberg Media Center (MC), a state-of-the-art converged newsroom that will help you in your professional development. Students in this course are expected to sign up to work at the Media Center, where students will produce content across platforms for Annenberg Television News, Annenberg Radio News, Neon Tommy, and Intersections: The South Angeles Los Angeles Report. Broadcast majors will work at Annenberg TV News and Neon Tommy. Print majors will work at Annenberg Radio News and Neon Tommy.
Annenberg Media Center Requirement
Each J203 and J202 student must register for a shift in the Media Center (MC). You are required to work four consecutive hours each week in the MC. The lab shift counts for 10 percent each of your J203 course grade. The MC lab shift is an integral, mandatory part of your course. MC anchoring or paid management work will not count toward this requirement. Non-MC positions including jobs, internships or other outside commitments cannot be substituted for the MC shift. As a Media Center multimedia journalist, you will work on field or in-house assignments that will range from those you can finish in your four-hour shift to enterprise stories that will be spread over more than one shift. You will have the opportunity to produce stories that are video, audio and/or text-based that will be “published” on Media Center websites, such as Neon Tommy, or be part of Media Center productions, such as Annenberg Radio News and Annenberg TV News.
REQUIRED FORMS FOR J202/J203 STUDENTS
(1)You must fill out the MC REGISTRATION each semester to become a member of the Media Center even if you worked in the MC last semester. To start fulfilling your lab requirement, register now using this link: http://bit.ly/1F7SUxH
(2) You must also read and acknowledge the MC TECHNICAL POLICIES to gain access to the MC, check out equipment, use online media storage and make studio reservations. Read the policies for each outlet all the way through and acknowledge them electronically at this link: annenbergprograms.com/technical
(3) You will also sign the MC Intellectual Property Policy in the Media Center at the start of the semester, during workshops and shifts. REQUIRED WORKSHOPS FOR J202/J203 STUDENTS
You are required to attend workshops to prepare for your shift in the Media Center.
It is essential that you attend all of the mandatory workshops to get full credit for your Media Center work. You will be required to bring your laptop and all class-assigned field gear, including video cameras, to the workshops and to your shifts. REQUIRED ATTENDANCE FOR J203/ J202 STUDENTS
You must NOTIFY the student manager in charge if you cannot make the appointed hours of your shift. The MC attendance policy and procedures will be provided at the start of the semester.
Missed shifts must be made up within two weeks of your absence (religious holidays exempted). You must make arrangements with your designated student manager to make up your shift.
Your instructor will receive alerts from the MC about any serious attendance issues by Friday, October 9th, the end of the seventh week of the semester. Your instructor will also receive final attendance records by Wednesday, December 16th, the last day of the official university final exam period.
Failure to fulfill your obligations will affect the MediaCenterportion of your grade.
To get your questions answered and to sign up for non-course-related activities including anchor auditions, stop by the Open House/Sign-Up Day Wednesday, September 2nd, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.If you have any questions before then, you can email email@example.com.
Overall Learning Objectives and Assessment
This course will cover the basics of broadcast newswriting. The emphasis will be on writing for TV, but the skills apply to radio news as well. By the end of the semester, your writing should approach professional standards -- clear, concise, accurate, and conversational. Writing skills are valued in every job in the newsroom -- reporter, producer, editor, assignment editor, anchor, graphics designer, and of course news writer. The better your writing, the better your chances of success.
Here are a few things we will work on this semester-
How to take information (from wires, news conferences, news releases, video, officials) and determine what is newsworthy.
How to conduct interviews, select the best sound for a story and how to write into and out of that sound. This also includes the use of natural sound.
How to decode the acronym-filled language of broadcast news: VO, SOT, VO/SOT, VO/SOT/VO, VSV, OTS, TRT, ETC.
How to shoot and edit basic video and sound with a mobile cell phone camera.
How to edit a basic video and sound story using Premiere software.
How to write in two-column script format with appropriate on-screen titles and locations.
How to write/edit all of the above on deadline.
Concurrent Enrollment: J202
Recommended Preparation: Regular reading of news sites, with an eye toward sourcing, structure and flow, and how multimedia tools are used to present news.
Description of Assignments
Writing on deadline is part of journalism. In-class assignments will be graded on timeliness as well as the quality of the writing. Scripts for in-class assignments, homework, the midterm, and the final should be written in a two-column format that will be explained at the beginning of the semester.
Learning to write for TV and radio news takes time. The style and format are different from other forms of journalism. The goal is to improve every week. If you show steady progress you will do well in this class.
Grading Assignments 30 percent
Quizzes 10 percent
Annenberg Media Center
requirement 10 percent
Midterm - Week 8 25 percent
Final 25 percent
Total 100 percent
95 to 100: A
70 to less than 75: C+
45 to less than 50: D-
90 to less than 95: A-
65 to less than 70: C
0 to less than 45: F
85 to less than 90: B+
60 to less than 65: C-
80 to less than 85: B
55 to less than 60: D+
75 to less than 80: B-
50 to less than 55: D
All assignments will be edited on a professional basis and you will be judged first on the accuracy, fairness and objectivity of your stories. You will then be evaluated for broadcast style, editing, production value, originality and the ability to meet deadlines.
“A” stories are accurate, clear, comprehensive stories that are well written and require only minor copyediting (i.e., they would be aired or published). Video work must also be shot and edited creatively, be well paced and include good sound bites and natural sound that add flavor, color or emotion to the story.
“B” stories require more than minor editing and have a few style or spelling errors or one significant error of omission. For video, there may be minor flaws in the composition of some shots or in the editing. Good use of available sound bites is required.
“C” stories need considerable editing or rewriting and/or have many spelling, style or omission errors. Camera work and editing techniques in video stories are mediocre or unimaginative, but passable. Sound bites add little or no color - only information that could be better told in the reporter’s narration.
“D” stories require excessive rewriting, have numerous errors and should not have been submitted. Camera work is unsatisfactory or fails to show important elements.
“F” stories have failed to meet the major criteria of the assignment, are late, have numerous errors or both. Your copy should not contain any errors in spelling, style, grammar and facts. Any misspelled or mispronounced proper noun will result in an automatic “F” on that assignment. Any factual error will also result in an automatic “F” on the assignment. Accuracy is the first law of journalism. The following are some other circumstances that would warrant a grade of “F” and potential USC/Annenberg disciplinary action:
• Fabricating a story or making up quotes or information.
• Plagiarizing a script/article, part of a script/article or information from any source.
• Staging video or telling interview subjects what to say.
• Using video shot by someone else and presenting it as original work.
• Shooting video in one location and presenting it as another location.
• Using the camcorder to intentionally intimidate, provoke or incite a person or a group of people to elicit more “dramatic” video.
• Promising, paying or giving someone something in exchange for doing an interview either on or off camera.
• Missing a deadline.
Assignment Submission Policy
Scripts for in-class assignments, homework, the midterm, and the final should be written in a two-column format that will be explained at the beginning of the semester.
Every script also must be submitted to Blackboard. This helps the instructor track your progress, offers ease for grading and instructor feedback and assists greatly in calculating final grades. Video assignments will be posted to Xchange; training session schedules will be sent to you later in the semester.
Additional Policies 1. All textbook, handout, and Web readings assigned for that day should be completed before each class. Assignments will not be accepted late except under rare circumstances.
2. Homework needs to be posted to Xchange and Blackboard on the day it’s due.
3. Always save all assignments and handouts. Keep them organized and bring them to class.
4. Read and RE-READ all handouts. You will write better.
5. With approval, students may rewrite one assignment that received a low grade. The recorded grade on the rewritten assignment will be the average between the new and old grades. (An “F” on the original and an “A” on the rewrite would be a “C”.) I will return your graded assignments on a timely basis with comments and suggested corrections. If you don’t understand a comment or correction, or you disagree, see me.
6. There will be timed assignments that can only be completed in class. Because many videos will be viewed and written in class, make-up assignments for the in-class work will not be possible. You cannot be late on a story and you should not be late to class. Please alert your instructor if you’re going to be late or miss a class for personal emergencies or illness.
7. Although J203 and J202 syllabi are similar, every core class is different and students can't make-up a class by going to another section of this class. For example, if you miss your regular Wednesday broadcast class, you can't go to a different broadcast class with another instructor.
8. Accuracy is the number one priority. Your reputation as a journalist and the reputation of the news organization you work for hangs in the balance. Is the information accurate, is the grammar correct, are the names spelled and pronounced correctly? Have you identified the sources of your report? Is the writing style conversational? Have you written a lead that will grab the viewers’ attention? Is the style and tone appropriate for the report? Is the script the correct length?
9. In addition to being ethical in developing and writing your stories, it is important that you also consider diversity. When looking at your work, you should consider who is involved and how it will impact others. Is your work fair and does it represent all stakeholders in a balanced manner? This class will help you learn how to write in a manner that includes diverse viewpoints. The class will discuss socioeconomic/class, race/ethnicity, religion, gender/sexual orientation, geography and generations in the context of current events.
Required Readings and Supplementary Materials
Course Reader Fall 2015-2016 [Custom Publishing] This is the same reader required for J202.
Publisher: USC Bookstore
Dictionary: Merriam Webster, www.m-w.com
This is the dictionary that should be used for all assignments, midterms and finals.
Other books we will use but are not required:
Title: Broadcast News and Writing Stylebook, 4th edition
Author: Robert Papper
Required Readings and Supplementary Materials
As journalists, it is imperative you become a daily news consumer. Watch, read and check news sources every day. You must follow the news and be familiar with what is going on around the world, the country, California, and Los Angeles. You should read the LA Times and New York Times EVERY DAY. Stacks of free NYT are delivered to the ASC lobby daily. Watch at least one national newscast each day. If you can’t watch in real time, complete broadcasts are available on-line:
CBS Evening News http://www.cbsnews.com/evening-news/
PBS Newshour http://www.pbs.org/newshour/ Watch at least one local newscast every day:
KABC, KCBS/KCAL, KNBC, KTLA, KTTV
Listen to NPR and KNX-1070 AM news radio (or on the KNX website http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/station/knx-1070/ on the hour at least once each day). Develop a list of other news sources you check daily, which could include LA Observed, http://laobserved.com/ The Daily News http://www.dailynews.com/ , Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/ , Sacramento Bee http://www.sacbee.com/ , Pro Publica http://www.propublica.org/, California Watch—from the Center for Investigative Reporting http://californiawatch.org/, and CNN
News apps along with following several news organizations and newsmakers on Twitter provide excellent overviews of the important news of the day. If you check these regularly, you’ll be well informed and do well on current events quizzes.
All undergraduate and graduate Annenberg majors and minors are required to have a PC or Apple laptop that can be used in Annenberg classes. Please refer to the Annenberg Virtual Commons for more information. To connect to USC’s Secure Wireless network, please visit USC’s Information Technology Services website.
Add/Drop Dates for Session 001 (15 weeks: 8/24/15 – 12/4/15)
Friday, September 11: Last day to register and add classes for Session 001
Friday, September 11: Last day to drop a class without a mark of “W,” except for Monday-only classes, and receive a refund for Session 001
Tuesday, September 15: Last day to drop a Monday-only class without a mark of “W” and receive a refund for Session 001
Friday, October 9: Last day to drop a course without a mark of “W” on the transcript. [Please drop any course by the end of week three (or the week three equivalent for short sessions) to avoid tuition charges.]
Friday, November 13: Last day to drop a class with a mark of “W” for Session 001
*For shortened/condensed courses (e.g.: seven-week courses), please find your course on the Fall 2015 Schedule of Classes and click the “Info” button for different add/drop dates.Course Schedule: A Weekly Breakdown
Important note to students: Be advised that this syllabus is subject to change - and probably will change - based on the progress of the class, news events, and/or guest speaker availability.
Readings and Homework
Introductions, review syllabus.
Basic differences between print and broadcast styles
Radio, TV, web video examples
Identifying facts, including those that come from video and audio
Diagnostic – facts and video provided; write story for broadcast
Discussion of Annenberg Media Center lab requirement
With the exception of the first class, all readings and homework should be completed by the next class period. Readings: “Basic Rules of Broadcast Writing” pp. 169-182 ; Tuggle: Chapter 1 “Characteristics of Broadcast News Writing” pp1-15;
What is news? News worthiness & story selection.
--NewsNow, Chapter 1, pp. 2-33
Handout: “Broadcast News Writing Basics” Chapter 2 ATVN Handbook
Write a brief (:20-:25) copy story from the “Leads, News Brief section of the Course Reader (pg 228-229). You can choose from the following: D. Wind; E. Zoo; F District Attorney; G. Laundromat; I. Fire. This should be written in broadcast style and format. Course Reader
Basic Safety Tips for reporters
Fundamentals of journalistic writing: who, what, where, when, why, how
What makes a good story?
Tweeting facts - role of social media
In-class: Practice writing leads
Readings: Tuggle Chapter 3 “Writing Great Leads and Other Helpful Tips” pp. 33-54
News Now, Chapter 7 pp. 129-133
Course Reader “Radio and Television Leads and Copy Stories” pp. 175-182
Homework: Write three leads from three different stories selected by your instructor; write one :20-:25 copy story
Homework due at the start of every class.
:20- :25 brief due.
Recording and videotaping interviewees
Find someone to interview on campus; write story based on interview recorded on mobile phone (select best sound, use proper attribution); take photos of your subject
Leads review/Prep for leads quiz.
Readings: Tuggle: Chapter 5 – “Interviewing: Getting the Facts and the Feelings” pp. 63-81
how sound fits into the story; avoiding the “echo effect.”
Natural sound – NATVO, SOTVO
Ambient sound – making the VO come alive
Course Reader “Adding Sound to Radio and Television Stories” pp. 189-194
Optional - Papper: Chapter 8-“Working with and Gathering Bites, Actualities and Natural Sound”
In class assignment – Uber LAX//Hydrogen Fuel
Write a VOSOT or VSV, selecting video and sound from facts and video.
Assignment (Due Week #7)
Cover a news event on campus or in community (same as J202); shoot video and sound; write 1:00 minute story with on camera intro, video leading into at least two sound bites; write two tweets for the event/story
:30 video story due.
Incorporating video, sound, natural sound; ensuring all sides are covered; telling an accurate, fair, balanced story
In class assignment: McDonald’s Protest – write VSV or SOTVO,SOTVO
Using Sound: --News Now, Chapter 6 “Sight and Sound,” pp. 107-122
News event assignment due next week
[Sukkot: Sunday - Sunday, September 27 - October 4]
Review for Midterm.
Writing to video, writing in and out of sound
Covering a local meeting (see 202) Identifying video and sound that are newsworthy; identifying video and/or graphics to flush out a story
Write VSV (Source material TBA)
Reporting: News Now, Chapter 3, pp. 39-51
Course Reader “Updates and Breaking News for Radio and Television” pp. 210-212
RTNDA Guidelines for Breaking News http://www.rtdna.org/pages/media_items/guidelines-for-breaking-news-events400.php
Assignment (due Week 9) Attend a meeting a public; write VOSOT or VSV or SOTVO (describe video and sound on left side of two-column script)
1:00 news event story due. [assignment from Week 5]
:30 VO from raw tape with tape log + 2 tweets
:45 VSV from raw tape with tape log + 2 tweets
Readings: Courts and Crime:
--News Now, Chapter 3 “Reporting,” pp. 40-62
Public meeting assignment due next week
[For 15-week undergraduate courses: Due by week 8 - Adequate graded work on which midterm standing can be based]
*Required attendance: In advance of next week’s J202 and J203 class unit about crime, safety and courts, Week 8 Director’s Forum will feature representatives of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department about law enforcement relationships with journalists, law enforcement issues in the 21st century and conversations about high-tech approaches to law enforcement – drones, for example – that have generated debates over privacy in communities. Location and time to be announced.
Spot and Breaking News – mobile and social
Writing with a sense of immediacy, urgency
Cameras in Court guidelines Public vs. Private policy
In class assignment: write VSV from USC Hit and Run
News Now, Chapter 7 “Writing for Broadcast” pp.133-144
Meeting assignment due
Write :45-:50 VSV Crossing Guard Hit Course Reader pg. 439 (or another story from Reader or elsewhere)
Public meeting assignment due.
Premiere n class. VSV training: How to import footage, open editing software, set up projects, label video and edit a simple VSV.
A video for training purposes will be sent to instructors before the training and students should have reviewed the material before the training session.
Readings: Tuggle Chapter 9 “Television News Story Forms—The Package” pp. 153-167
Course Reader “Writing Simple Packages for Television” pp. 221-226
Developing and Structuring Video Packages:
--News Now, Chapter 6 “Sight And Sound” pp.119-122, Chapter 7, 140-144
Optional - Papper: Chapter 11 – TV Story Forms
Homework: Editing assignment
:45-:50 VSV Crossing Guard Hit story due.
Putting packages together – integrating video, sound, track, standup
What standups work best
In-class: Write package (TBA)
News Now Chapter 12 “Ethics” pp. 220-238
Beat assignment – story selected for J202 is focus of package; shoot mobile video and interviews
Package due – week 15 (completed script should include video/sound descriptions on left side as well as CG information)
Make or break elements for a good package/story
Captions for photos and videos
View raw tape and write package (material from Course Reader, Bb, other)
Tuggle Chapter 13 “Why We Fight” pp. 243-261
News Now, Chapter 13 “Diversity” pp. 239-256
Homework: View coverage of a political story on a TV newscast or online (must include video and audio). Critique and tell what you would do to improve it.
Covering politics, elections, issues
Writing to visuals, graphics, sound
Tuggle: Chapter 12 – The Care and Feeding of Television Live Shots, pp. 225-241.
In class and/or Homework - Youth Justice Coalition Coffin March package
Thanksgiving. No class.
[Thanksgiving Break: Wednesday - Saturday, November 25 - 28]
Refining VSV’s and Packages
Review for final
Review rough drafts of final/beat assignment
Final projects due today OR during your Final Exam period.
[Instructor: Please be sure to set aside time at the beginning of your final class meeting for students to submit their USC Course Evaluations.]
Final – write package script from fact sheet and video/sound
Date: For the date and time of the final for this class, please consult the Fall 2015 Final Exam Schedule.
From basic skills to fine tuning, USC Annenberg’s School of Journalism writing coaches are available to assist journalism students of all levels. Students may schedule sessions to consult one-on-one about their work and tips on how to improvement. Contact the writing coaches by telephone or email to set up an appointment, unless if noted otherwise.
The role of the coaches is to review and give explanations on pieces that have already been graded. Coaches are not allowed to work on assignments that have yet to be submitted.
Broadcast/Video: Liz McHale, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: Annenberg Media Center/ ANN 102 or ANN306.
Office hours: Mondays and Thursdays, 5-8 p.m.; Tuesdays, Noon to 2 p.m.; other days by appointment.
Please email in advance to reserve a time and day.
Print/Text: Miki Turner, email@example.com
Location: ANN 205D. Office hours: Mondays, by appointment; Tuesdays, 5-8 p.m.; Wednesdays, 5:10-8 p.m. Please email in advance to reserve time and day.
Statement on Academic Conduct and Support Systems
Presenting someone else’s ideas as your own, either verbatim or recast in your own words - is a serious academic offense with serious consequences. Please familiarize yourself with the discussion of plagiarism in SCampus in Section 11, Behavior Violating University Standards https://scampus.usc.edu/b/11-00-behavior-violating-university-standards-and-appropriate-sanctions/. Other forms of academic dishonesty are equally unacceptable. See additional information in SCampus and university policies on scientific misconduct, http://policy.usc.edu/scientific-misconduct/.
USC School of Journalism Policy on Academic Integrity
The following is the USC Annenberg School of Journalism’s policy on academic integrity and repeated in the syllabus for every course in the school:
“Since its founding, the USC School of Journalism has maintained a commitment to the highest standards of ethical conduct and academic excellence. Any student found plagiarizing, fabricating, cheating on examinations, and/or purchasing papers or other assignments faces sanctions ranging from an ‘F’ on the assignment to dismissal from the School of Journalism. All academic integrity violations will be reported to the office of Student Judicial Affairs & Community Standards (SJACS), as per university policy, as well as journalism school administrators.”
In addition, it is assumed that the work you submit for this course is work you have produced entirely by yourself, and has not been previously produced by you for submission in another course or Learning Lab, without approval of the instructor.
Equity and Diversity
Discrimination, sexual assault, and harassment are not tolerated by the university. You are encouraged to report any incidents to the Office of Equity and Diversityhttp://equity.usc.edu/ or to the Department of Public Safetyhttp://capsnet.usc.edu/department/department-public-safety/online-forms/contact-us. This is important for the safety of the whole USC community. Another member of the university community - such as a friend, classmate, advisor, or faculty member - can help initiate the report, or can initiate the report on behalf of another person. The Center for Women and Menhttp://www.usc.edu/student-affairs/cwm/ provides 24/7 confidential support, and the sexual assault resource center webpage https://sarc.usc.edu/ describes reporting options and other resources.
Support with Scholarly Writing
A number of USC’s schools provide support for students who need help with scholarly writing. Check with your advisor or program staff to find out more. Students whose primary language is not English should check with the American Language Institute http://dornsife.usc.edu/ali, which sponsors courses and workshops specifically for international graduate students.
The Office of Disability Services and Programs http://sait.usc.edu/academicsupport/centerprograms/dsp/home_index.htmlprovides certification for students with disabilities and helps arrange the relevant accommodations.
Students are under a lot of pressure. If you start to feel overwhelmed, it is important that you reach out for help. A good place to start is the USC Student Counseling Services office at 213-740-7711. The service is confidential, and there is no charge.
If an officially declared emergency makes travel to campus infeasible, USC Emergency Informationhttp://emergency.usc.edu/ will provide safety and other updates, including ways in which instruction will be continued by means of Blackboard, teleconferencing, and other technology.
About Your Instructor
I currently work as a producer on the LA-based public television news magazine show Socal Connected on KCET. I am proud to have worked on some fascinating investigative and feature news stories. I also freelance with several news organizations in the LA area. A Los Angeles native, I hold an undergraduate degree from University of California, Santa Barbara and a graduate degree from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in Broadcast Journalism. I love travel, photography, learning to bake, logging tape, and attending community meetings. I am also notorious about watching sports while researching stories. I hope to have a wonderful semester getting our feet in the world of broadcast journalism.