MEDP 202 | News Reporting and Writing 2 (RW2) Sample Syllabus

Prerequisite

MEDP 201

Course Description

This course will build on the skills learned in MEDP 201 and reflect the multimedia nature of the journalism industry by introducing writing for broadcast journalism as well as social media. You will be learning new ways to produce excellent online, audio and video journalism as well as how to use your smartphone to record audio and video. Each of you will create your own online domain and set up social media accounts that you don’t have already to establish a digital identity and a personal cyber-infrastructure where you will publish your work. By creating your own website and social media identity, you will be preparing yourself for digital citizenship and learning about the best practices for digital publication. We will also have our own Twitter hashtag and an Instagram and snapchat account, and a YouTube channel, which will help turn this course into an open, networked community.
Although all the assignments have been redesigned to include digital elements, you will still be focusing on traditional skills including researching and reporting an issue in-depth, analyzing data, developing sources, interviewing, covering beats, and improving your writing and storytelling skills across all media platforms. You will be covering a beat of your choosing for your assignments, telling fresh and new stories rather than recycling news from other media.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the semester, you should be able to:
• Write in a clear and concise style using appropriate AP conventions for both print and broadcast writing
• Research, pitch, report and write a longer form web-based story that includes some type of data and multiple multimedia elements (photos, graphics, maps, poll, audio interviews, video, comments section etc.)
• Use Snapchat to tell a social media version of your beat reporting story
• Conduct audio interviews using a Zoom recorder or smartphone
• Report, write and edit a podcast using Audacity or Adobe Audition
• Shoot, edit and post on YouTube a nat sound video story using only your smartphone
• Use social media to research, report and promote stories
• Manage your own digital identity through a personal website where you publish your multimedia work

Required Texts / Subscriptions / Equipment

“The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law 2015”
“Broadcast News Writing Stylebook,” Robert Papper, 2012
The New York Times: You will be responsible for reading the front page stories of The New York Times every day and keeping up with the news in general.
NPR: You should listen to NPR on a daily basis, paying special attention to stories by reporters in the field. This is the style we are going for in our podcasts.
News Alerts: You should select a news organization as your home page and sign up for mobile alerts.
A smartphone that records audio and video (see me if this is a problem)

Class Format

This course will be taught as an interactive workshop with an emphasis on class participation and good writing, including a refresher on proper AP style and an introduction to broadcast writing, shooting and editing video and social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat. You will pick a beat, pitch story ideas in class and brainstorm with classmates to sharpen a story’s focus. You will deconstruct both good and bad writing by critiquing each other’s work in class. You will share your insights and news about your beat with the class via our social media sites.

You will also focus on how to tell compelling stories and research story ideas in depth. You will continue to become even more critical consumers of all media and are expected to read, watch and listen to as much news as possible. You must keep up with current events in the community and the world in order to provide the necessary context in your own reporting. All students will be required to read The New York Times, listen to NPR daily and subscribe to at least one news organization’s Twitter feed or news alerts. You will be responsible for knowing key details about the top stories for pop news quizzes.

This course will demand a lot from you. Please come to class prepared each day. Complete reading assignments in advance, turn in stories on time, be ready for story meetings, know what is happening in the news and be prepared to participate in class discussions. This class is a major time commitment, so you will need to make it a priority.

Assignments

The assignments for this course include building your own domain, researching, reporting and writing one focus style print story, one podcast and a Snapchat on the same topic, producing a two-minute “Listening Post” nat sound video story using your smartphone, and posting on our social media accounts throughout the semester.

All assignments must be published on your domain. The online version of your story must include at least three different multimedia elements. I also require a typed, stapled and double-spaced hard copy of your story to edit. The hard copy must include a slug with your name, date and assignment heading as well as a separate source sheet. Stories in both formats will be turned in before class or at the beginning of class on the due date. If you miss class, it’s your responsibility to contact me, turn in your work that’s due that day before class, make up the work missed and hand in the next homework assignment on time.

Both the print and podcast stories will be graded independently, reviewed in class by your peers and me, returned to you and then rewritten, incorporating comments and suggestions. You will have one week to make these changes and then repost and turn in the new versions to be graded again. We will do the same peer review for the Listening Post assignment, and you will have until the last class to make those revisions.

Grading

AP Style Take Home Test 5 percent
Midterm 10 percent
Homework/Quizzes 20 percent
Print Assignment 20 percent
Podcast Assignment 20 percent
Listening Post Video Assignment 15 percent
Domain 10 percent

Deadlines

Deadlines are taken seriously in journalism and this class. If you are ever absent, it’s up to you to email me the assignment due that day by the start of class. If you don’t turn in your assignment at the start of class, you will lose a full letter grade (10 points) for every day the assignment is late. You are a day late if you turn in your assignment after the start of class on the day it is due, even if you turn it in later the same day, two days late on the following day, etc. After seven days, you’ll receive an F on the assignment.

Participation

Participation in class is expected. Our class will function as a seminar with discussion in every class period. While regular attendance in class is required, your presence in the classroom is not an end in itself. Students should be in class not only to benefit from the lecture but to interact with fellow students as a community. Exceptional engagement and participation will improve your final grade while a lack of participation will hurt your final grade.

Final Note

This is an intense class. Very few journalism programs in the country are offering this type of multimedia instruction that teaches students to how to build their own domain and report across multiple platforms in one course. Given the nature of the technology you will be using, many events may occur that cannot be predicted. This will require flexibility and a sense of adventure. Remember not to let the technology overwhelm you—it is just a tool to help you as a journalist and storyteller. Also remember the greater purpose of all journalism: to serve our community with news that is important, relevant and engaging.

Weekly Schedule

WEEK 1: Introduction, AP Style Review and Domain Building Workshop
Monday, January 30: Class orientation, review of syllabus, and academic integrity policy. Class introductions.
Thursday, February 2: AP Style review and domain building workshop with Sha Sha Feng. Homework: AP Style Take home test and basic website architecture due 2/16 and Team Exercise: Multimedia Website Critique due 2/9

WEEK 2: Snapchat Guest Speaker and Multimedia Presentations
Monday, February 6: State of the Media essay due.
Thursday, February 9: Multimedia Presentations.
Homework: Choose a beat and begin researching stories.

WEEK 3: Writing for Broadcast and Finding and Cultivating Sources
Monday, February 13: NO CLASS
Wednesday, February 15: Broadcast Basics including types of leads. First assignment announced. Pitch due 2/23; Print story due 3/27; podcast 3/30
Thursday, February 16: Personal Domain architecture due. AP Style test due. Finding and Cultivating Sources and In-class Writing for Broadcast

WEEK 4: Story Pitches
Monday, February 20: NO CLASS
Thursday, February 23: Story Pitches

WEEK 5: Tech Talk: Editing Software and Digging for Information
Monday February 27: Audacity/Audition Workshop and in-class editing exercise
Thursday, March 2: Workshop on data driven journalism and digging for data for your story with media librarian Tony Doyle in E114.

WEEK 6: Story Structure and Anatomy of a Good Quote: Print vs. Broadcast
Monday, March 6: Story structure: print vs. broadcast
Thursday, March 9: Structure Picking good quotes: print vs. broadcast. Sources and attribution review

WEEK 7: In-class Deadline Writing for Broadcast and Voice and Delivery Workshop
Monday, March 13: In-class deadline writing for broadcast
Thursday, March 16: Read handout on Voice and Delivery on Blackboard. Voice, Diction and Delivery lecture and exercises.

WEEK 8: Voice and Delivery Guest Speaker and Midterm
Monday, March 20: Voice and Delivery Guest Speaker: Alex Witt, MSNBC Anchor
Thursday, March 23: Midterm

Week 9: Guest Speaker on Beat Reporting and WNYC Tour
Monday, March 27: Print and snapchat assignment due.
Guest Speaker: Azi Paybarah, Beat Reporter, Politico
Thursday, March 30: Podcast assignment due.
WNYC Tour. Meet at 9:30 a.m. at 160 Varick Street, 8th Floor

Week 10: Critic’s Corner
Monday, April 3: In-class review of print and snapchat assignment. Rewrite due 4/20
Thursday, April 6: In-class review of podcast assignment. Rewrite due 4/20 Homework: Write a story pitch for your Listening Post due 4/20

WEEK 11: Spring Break

WEEK 12: Video Basics and the Listening Post Assignment
Monday, April 17: NO CLASS
Thursday, April 20: Print and podcast rewrites due. Listening Post Assignment announced due 5/4. Video Basics and story meeting.

WEEK 13: iPhone Shooting and Editing Workshop and Tour of Bloomberg
Monday, April 24: iPhone Workshop with Megan Rossman
Thursday, April 27: Tour of Bloomberg. Meet at 731 Lexington Ave. (59th Street) at 9:15 a.m.

WEEK 14: Data Visualization and Guest Speaker
Monday, May 1: Data Visualization
Thursday, May 4: Listening Post Assignment due.
Guest Speaker: Christine McKenna, Professor, Data Visualization, CUNY Journalism School

WEEK 15: Post Mortem Listening Post with Guest Critics from CNN
Monday, May 8: In-class review of Listening Post Video with guest critic, Sonia Moghe, CNN backpack reporter and producer
Thursday, May 11: In-class review of Listening Post Video with guest critic, Phil Rosenbaum, HLN producer, “Primetime Justice”

WEEK 16: New York Times Tour and Domain Presentations
Monday, May 15: New York Times Tour
Thursday May 18: Listening Post re-do and domain due. Domain Presentations and Class Party!