Rtv 440 News Practices, Spring 2013

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RTV 440 News Practices, Spring 2013

Dr. Tony DeMars ~ Faculty Office: PAC 121

Office Phone: (903) 468-8649 ~ E-mail: Tony.DeMars@tamuc.edu

Graduate Assistant: luca.morazzano@gmail.com

E-mail sent to any other e-mail address or through Engrade will not be read

Office Hours: TWTh 9:30-10-30 am, Tues. 3:30 – 5:00 pm; Wed. 1-3 pm
Text: Television Field Production and Reporting, 5th edition, F. Shook et al.
Course Description: Radio-TV News Practices: A study of broadcast news practices. The basic rules of broadcast news writing will be reviewed and stories will be will be written and delivered based on television styles. Studio and newsroom procedures will be examined.

Student Learning Outcomes--Through readings, instruction, practice, and projects:

• The focus of the course is toward establishing for the student an understanding of

producing and reporting for TV news.

• Students will learn or improve upon skills in writing, shooting, editing, and reporting

news stories for television.

• This class continues introductory classes’ training to build skills through hands-on

work. Each student is responsible for knowing how to use the equipment based on

skills from prior production classes. You are responsible for having or gaining the

required prerequisite skills in writing, shooting, and production.

• Students will gain understanding of the deadline issues involved in the news business.

• Students will gain skills in the production of a live TV newscast.

• Students will learn components of electronic delivery of news beyond TV reporting—

including radio news and Internet news creation and distribution.

Grading policies, Projects: 


3 required stories: one as a VO, one as VSV and one as a package

• Each of these stories must be done as assigned in order to receive credit (more below)

2 optional PKG stories as ‘B’ then ‘A’ projects of 1:30 in length. Either of these stories that fails

to meet all requirements receives no credit, and there is no opportunity for revision.

Projects require submission of scripts, shooting and editing, and meeting deadlines. Missing any part of a project will affect the acceptance status and grade. Scripts must be submitted complete, typed, and in the assigned format to be counted as being submitted. You must work alone when shooting or editing, except when specifically approved in writing by the instructor or as specified by a particular project. You are also graded based on editing training and skills. Further project guidelines and expectations are at the end of the syllabus.

Project Requirements: The three required production projects must be completed and accepted for the student to receive a passing grade in the course, regardless of points accumulated. Specific criteria for each project will be made available in class and/or via the course web site. A project not turned in on time will be late regardless of the reason—please do not ask me for ways to resolve your deadline problems; it is your responsibility to meet the deadline regardless of technical or other problems. Grading criteria of projects will be made available on the course web site. Ask in class if you are ever in doubt. REMEMBER—no late work! See the week-by week assignment guide for due dates. For the VO, VO-SOT and required PKG -- if you miss any part of the deadline (script, tape log, raw footage or final project), you lose 20% of the points from the project grade. You are expected to have shooting, editing & writing skills before starting this class. It is up to YOU to find ways to resolve deficiencies related to news story work. For each required story, you must do it correctly (as assigned) or it will be rejected. Once you have a story rejected, you have two weeks to find, cover and submit another, based on a new story topic. Each time it is submitted without meeting all requirements it will be rejected. Each repeat reduces the project grade (10 pts. each VO or VSV; 20 pts. each PKG). In order to pass the class, re-submission required until it meets requirements and is accepted. Even if still working on re-submits, you move on to VSV and required PKG as indicated on course outline. There are no repeats for B or A packages – if the first fails to meet all requirements, your best course grade possible would then be a ‘B’—if the second A/B package submission is accepted. Earning enough points and having both accepted gives you an ‘A.’ You may not start work on ‘B’ or ‘A’ project work until you have all three required stories accepted. ‘B’ and ‘A’ projects have no point value if your course average is below 80 or if you do not have all three required project stories accepted.

Exams, Daily Work, Quizzes:  Exams: There will be a mid-term exam, primarily based on short-answer, T-F, and/or multiple choice questions, plus a similar-style comprehensive and production project final. Test questions will be based on textbook content and class content. No make-up exams will be given except in a dire emergency and then only if the instructor is contacted in advance. Documentation verifying the cause of the absence would be required; make-up format would be essay and listing. Any in-class or assigned writing exercises will be averaged as a Chapter Exam grade and may not be made up if missed. Chapter Exams will include questions from chapters, class content and from current events.
Grade evaluation: Mid-term exam.............................................................. 100

VO story and VO-SOT story………(each)…………… 50

PKG story…..…………………..................................... 100

‘B’ Project PKG…..(required for B regardless of points) 50

‘A’ Project PKG ... (required for A regardless of points) 50

Chapter Exams....(5 @ 25 pts. each, lowest dropped)...…100

Practical & Production—writing, producing, crew work 100

Final Exam (production and written)............................ 200

GRADE REQUIREMENTS: (points required plus projects as noted for B or A)

"A"—720+ “B”—640-719 “C”—560-639 “D”—480-559

Missing a deadline related to a ‘B’ or ‘A’ project story means the story will no longer be accepted.

Grades & general grade averages will be on Engrade.com – be sure you get access code. Students are responsible for checking their own grades – grades will not be brought to class. Note: Grade as posted on Engrade is always an unofficial estimate. Each student will be given information on how to check grades on Engrade and is responsible for checking their own grades. ALSO NOTE: Practicum is required to be enrolled in this class. If you are not enrolled in and receive a grade for an RTV Practicum course at the end of the semester, your course grade for RTV 440 will be an ‘F.’


Faculty / Student Commitment:

• To accomplish the course objectives, the instructor will be in class on time, and

prepared to guide each student’s learning. Students should also be in class on time,

committed to benefiting from the class time by being prepared, arriving on time, and

staying involved the full class time.

• If at any time you are doing your part to do well in this course, but are having

difficulty, please arrange a time and speak with the instructor in his office. I cannot discuss your

course status, grades or other information about your work or activities in the course

just before class, during class time (including breaks), or immediately after class—nor

can I discuss or respond to any of these issues via phone or e-mail.

The keys to success in this class: Commit to learning the material we cover, read the

required reading, take good notes in class and while reading, study the material as we

go through it, ask questions in class about things you do not understand, and do the

assigned work and turn it in on time.

• Each student must provide a ream of paper to supply the MMCT mini computer lab

Attendance and participation: See www.time.gov for the correct time—the time that shows on your watch or cell phone may not be accurate. Students arriving late are marked absent. Class begins at the scheduled starting time. Arriving late or leaving at any time, even if you return, will result in being marked absent. There are no excused or unexcused absences. Points related to attendance are based on missing in-class work as noted above, plus deductions of 10 points each time from your point total starting with the 3rd late / absence. Excuse reports are not required for this class except as noted above. If you have an emergency reason to arrive late or leave early you should discuss this with the instructor in advance. Note: Very occasionally, an emergency break might be needed. If this occurs, feel free to leave without penalty, and simply remind me to mark it at the end of that class. If you do not remind me that day, it would remain marked as an absence. You should expect to have no more than one of these per semester. A major component of the Studio Production grade is the instructor's subjective assessment of each student's involvement and contribution during class times--affected by but not limited to such issues as mistakes made on crew positions during productions, violating stated course policies, any inappropriate talking during class—including production times, disrupting class, late arrivals, and not taking notes during lectures. Children or other guests are not allowed in classes.

IMPORTANT: Students who miss more than six classes MAY fail automatically or be dropped from the course.
UNIVERSITY ATTENDANCE POLICY13.99.99.R0.01 Class Attendance – “Students are responsible for learning about and complying with the attendance policy stated in the catalog, Student’s Guidebook, and/or faculty syllabus. Faculty members will provide details on requirements and guidelines for attendance in their classes in their course syllabi.” Students are responsible for reviewing remaining university attendance policy elements.

Academic Honesty: If you turn in work that is plagiarized, or take any action that violates TAMU-Commerce Academic Honesty policies, you will fail the course. All TAMU-Commerce students are responsible for knowing the standards of academic honesty. Please refer to the Student’s Guide Handbook for the University Academic Honesty Policy. Plagiarism is the use of someone else’s work as your own and/or failing to properly cite sources. Work submitted will be checked via an Internet search including www.turnitin.com for each submission. Using work you did not create or having someone else do any of your work violates Academic Honesty guidelines.

Classroom Policies: Students are expected to keep up with assigned reading and be prepared to answer questions in class--be sure you have done all required reading by the date noted on the course outline. IMPORTANT NOTE: Turn off cell phones before entering the classroom. You may not use any electronic device in the classroom without specific permission from the instructor through a signed form completed during office hours. Any electronic device (computer, PDA, cell phone, iPod, iPad, etc.) brought to class must be turned off and stored off your desktop during class. Students are expected to arrive to class on time and stay the entire class session.

Deadlines: Work not turned in on time will be late regardless of the reason—it is your responsibility to meet the deadline regardless of technical or other problems. Deadlines are always at the beginning of class in which anything is due for class, or as noted for news story pre-production and production. Work submitted incomplete will be marked as not submitted. Work not submitted on time is subject to being graded for credit only—no points—and class grade reduction.

Behavior: “Students are expected at all times to recognize constituted authority, to conform to the ordinary rules of good conduct, to be truthful, to respect the rights of others, to protect private and public property, and to make the best use of their time toward an education.” -- Texas A&M University System Student Rights and Obligations
“All students enrolled at the University shall follow the tenets of common decency and acceptable behavior conducive to a positive learning environment.” (See Student’s Guide Handbook, Policies and Procedures, Conduct) -- Texas A&M University-Commerce Procedures,12.01.99.R0.05 Guidelines for Content and Distribution of Syllabi: Roles and Responsibilities of Faculty

Anyone who persists in disruptive behavior will be permanently removed from class.
A few other words and restatements on classroom behavior:

  • No leaving during class, unless ill. Go to the bathroom and/or get a drink before class.

  • Take notes. You won’t accomplish much by just being here to warm the chair.

  • Turn off cell phones and similar devices when you come into class.
  • You may bring drinks or food into class, but use good manners while eating or drinking, and remove all trash when you leave. You MAY NOT have food or drinks in the editing rooms or during TV studio productions at any time.

  • Read assigned readings in advance. Be prepared to talk about them.

Changes to syllabus: I maintain the right to make changes as needed, in my judgment, from the stated plans contained in the syllabus for this class. Such changes will be announced to the class.
ACCOMMODATIONS FOR DISABILITIES: Students requesting accommodations for disabilities must go through the Academic Support Committee. For more information, please contact the director of Disability Resources and Services, Halladay Student Services Bldg., Room 303-D. Telephone, (903) 886-5835.
EARLY INTERVENTION FOR FIRST YEAR STUDENTS: Early intervention for freshmen is designed to communicate the University’s interest in their success and a willingness to participate fully to help students accomplish their academic objectives. The university through faculty advisors and mentors will assist students who may be experiencing difficulty to focus on improvement and course completion. This process will allow students to be knowledgeable about their academic progress early in the semester and will provide faculty and staff with useful data for assisting students and enhancing retention. Grade reports will be mailed by the end of the sixth week of the semester.
TENTATIVE COURSE OUTLINE / CALENDAR – more detail at www.tonydemars.com

Detailed outline and readings at course web site: http://www.tonydemars.com

Week 1 1/14 – Read Introduction of text, and Chapter 9; course overview; Story #1 sign up.

Week 2 1/21 – Read Chap. 4; 'VO Story' 1 work. Meeting assignment for practice PKG.

Week 3 1/28 – Read Chap. 3; Chapter Exam 1; Story 1 due Friday. Beats & Producing.

Week 4 2/4 – Read Chap. 7, Start Story 2 (VSV). Reporting steps. Practice PKG by 2/25

Week 5 2/11 – Read Chaps. 6 and 8; Story 2 shooting. Begin NEWSCASTS on Thursdays.

Week 6 2/18 – Read Chap. 10 & 12; Chapter Exam 2. Story 2 Monday. ‘Live Newscasts’ start

Week 7 2/25 – Review Introduction and Chap. 5. Last newscast before Spring Break

Week 8 3/4 – Mid Term Exam Thursday; Read Chap. 1  (included on mid-term).

Spring Break

Week 9 3/18 – Read Chap. 2 AND other, NPPA, reading assignment. Story 3 sign up.

Week 10 3/25 – Read Appendix A & B. Chapter Exam 3. Story 3 production.

Week 11 4/1 – Read Appendix C. Story 3 due Monday. NEWSCASTS RESUME.

Week 12 4/8 – READ Chap. 11; Writing Exam / Chapter Exam 4. B project story production.

Week 13 4/15 – Read Chap. 13; B project story due by Wednesday.

Week 14 4/22 – Read Chap. 14 and overview of Texas PI ACT; Chapter Exam 5; A story start.

Week 15 4/29 – Read Chap. 15. ‘A’ project story due by Friday.

Week 16 5/6 – Final Exam at scheduled time


1. Specified time and content requirements must be followed for project credit.

2. If you fabricate content or violate legal newsgathering practices, you will fail the

course. You must fill out and turn in accurate information for everyone you speak

with about a news story, and you must include accurate first and last names of

everyone included in a news story. NOTE: Even after completing this course, your

grade will be changed to an ‘F’ if is discovered that you fabricated any

content in any news story. Academic Honesty: See the Student Handbook.

Every person used in your story must be connected to the story -- no 'man on the

street' commentary sound bites and no acquaintances may be used in a story.

3. Material must be air quality, suitable for broadcast--content, style, and pronunciation.

4. A project that does not fit air quality guidelines will receive a negative (D grade or

lower) evaluation. Negative evaluation with ANY of the following errors: bad audio,

bad lighting, shaky shot, weak story content, missing required story/visual content

(e.g. 2-shot, reaction shot, stand up, lack of sequences), unapproved story, editing

error, script error, tape labeling error, digital file name error, plus others as noted elsewhere.

5. Your voice and talent must be the only ones used during all productions.

6. All video and scripts should be your own original work done at the time of the

assignment during this semester. Typed and appropriate scripts must be submitted

with each story as assigned (and e-mailed as .doc attachment). Academic

Honesty: See the Student Handbook.

7. Be sure to turn in each assignment properly labeled and as assigned. Stories

with all supporting materials must be turned in as described in class by the assigned

deadline for credit. Any missing required item means story is marked not submitted.

8. No jump cuts, shaky shots (use a tripod!), bad lighting, bad audio, or date stamps.

These will be marked as Fatal Flaws (FF); story may be marked as not submitted and

with course grade penalty. All sound bites must be close miked, with lapel mics only.

9. Remember, LATE NEWS is an oxymoron. Turn in scripts and projects ON TIME.

10. ACCUMULATE YOUR PROJECTS on computer and tape and save your scripts as

the semester progresses.

11. Use 1 or 2 mini-DV tapes for shooting RAW FOOTAGE, and dedicated flash drive for

your EDITED STORIES. Do not submit a news story without proper labeling or on a

raw footage tape. You will turn in your raw footage AND your story. You must also

correctly transfer your story to the server and to YouTube and verify it in both locations.

12. You may do a feature during the semester only with approval. A feature may be

generally described as ‘about it/them’ while a straight news story is ‘what

happened/what is happening/what will happen.’ Features must be packages.

13. Each VO-SOT-VO must have VO with b-roll, a sound bite, followed by more VO.

These must be submitted as described in class. Any one SB MUST be : 10-:16 long.

Your sound bite must start with :02 silence or nat sound only before the

audio of the sound bite starts. A double SOT VSV story may be done based on specific

instructor approval and production direction.

14. Every package must have two separate interview subjects used and a minimum of

three sound bites within the story. Accurate CG name/location/title information must

be on the script. If requested, a VSV of the same story may use the same sound bite

guest but MUST USE a different sound bite than used in the package or it will be

marked as not submitted. Sound bites may be no more than :30 total of a package.

15. Every package must have one stand-up and no more. A SU close must be the story

close followed by our standard outcue: "Bob Smith, KETV, Mane Media News."

SU Bridge is best--if done correctly. Lapel mic only on stand-up. Proper attire on SU.

16. No stock footage in any news story. Shoot new footage for each new story you do.

No one else may shoot your video and you may not use video shot for any other

purpose. You will fail the course if anyone helps you create any news project.

17. Begin your process of covering news by checking beats. ALWAYS BRING A TYPED


deducted. Standard topic sign up deadline is two weeks before project due date.

18. On packages, video must start :02 before audio starts. Hold your final shot after the audio

ends for a minimum of :05, then black only. VSVs must have one continuous-shot :20 video

pad after the timed sequences of Tape 1 and after the timed segment of video that follows the

sound bite on Tape 2. All pads on these must be one continuous visual, not a series of edited

shots. (story is rejected if pad is not done correctly). The pad VSV shots must a wide shot

that relates to the story's content, and you may not use the same shot for both pads.

19. Submit one typed script in final draft quality with your news story. A .doc

version must be e-mailed to rtv_news@yahoo.com by due time. Rough draft script is

always due as assigned; final draft script and story by 5 pm of due date. At the time

of submitting the final draft, all source/verification material must be turned in as a hard copy.

20. Department topics or people only with approval. Never use friends/acquaintances as

news sources. If you do, it will count as fabricated content (see item 2 above).

21. Shoot all video in SP speed, 16 x 9 aspect ratio and with audio set to 16 bit. Use autofocus

only as discussed in class. Never shoot in 24 frame mode or with any digital effects. Most

transitions in news stories are cuts. Be sure camera ‘white balance’ is set correctly.

22. Photography is the art of capturing and controlling light. If you shoot in a low-light situation,

you must still have enough light on the subject to be seen. Take field lighting gear to shoot.

23. You must make advance contact for each event you cover so the organizers know to expect

you. Some events may not be public or may not be feasible to shoot as a news story. As soon

as you select a story, you must immediately confirm that it will be an available event to shoot.

AND SOME NPPA-style News Tips:

1. Find a way to care about your story and storytelling in the news. If you don't care, no

one will.

2. Have a plan.. If you go out shooting wildly, someone will get hurt--YOU.

3. Reporting is like being lectured; storytelling is like recess. Do storytelling.

4. Don't try to cram 100 pounds into a 10-pound bag; find your story focus & stick to it.

5. Nat sots grab 'em and keep 'em--nothing tells a story better than three seconds of

meaningful natural sound.

6. Throughout the story, build your report around sequences.

7. Stop writing occasionally and let two or three seconds of compelling action occur

without voice over.

8. Your close should be so strong that nothing else can top it.

9. Build in surprises. The secret to doing it well is the set-up.

10. Tell your story through people. Very few shots should be without people in them.

11. Prove your focus with video and sound.

12. 'A trailer has burned down' is not a story focus, because it fails to meet the 'so what'

test. “The trailer burned because the walls are full of flammable insulation that is

dangerous for others” describes the larger issue and makes the story compelling.

13. Action and reaction are critical components in the visual storytelling process. The

reaction makes it memorable. Show reaction in every story.

14. Recheck NPPA Tip #1

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