Tuesday, January 13, 2009

JO 435 Radio Newsroom Syllabus

Basic Radio Journalism JO 435

Spring 2009
Monday 9-12:30 Room 321, audio lab and WTBU
Professor Anne Donohue
Office Hours: Tuesday 10-12 and 1-4, Wednesday 1-4
Thursday and Friday morning by appointment only.
Office: Room 302, phone: 353-3418;
Home Phone: 617-489-4334
email: adonohue@bu.edu
TA: Phil DiMartino email: pad13@bu.edu

The purpose of this course is to get students ready to enter a radio newsroom and master whatever tasks are thrown at them: producing, writing, reporting, gathering
and cutting tape, newscasting, editing, booking interviews and going "live" with
breaking news. After learning the basics of radio production and writing, we will treat
this class as an actual newsroom, going on the air LIVE on WTBU at 11:30 am. Each student will be the producer one week during the semester. It is your show, hopefully to add to your resume tape. As producer you will assign the host to do QA in the week preceding the show and assign the reporters to do news packages on topics of your choosing. You will make sure all stories are edited before reporters and hosts arrive in class on Tuesday.

There are some ten thousand radio stations in the United States. Most of
them include news as part of their programming. Some stations do exceptional news
coverage and pay their employees well. There are radio networks like National Public Radio and the BBC which are among the most comprehensive news sources in the world.

Many of you will find your first jobs in radio. While some of you will stay, many can
and do make the jump to TV. Many of the TV personalities you know got
their start in radio. Locally, Jack Harper, Steve Sbraccia, Beth Germano and Victoria Block are among those who started in radio. Others who start in TV turn to public radio because it allows more time, depth and creativity in producing news. Many print folks also turn to public radio because it allows them more opportunity for creativity. There is a big difference between reading a written quote and hearing the actual voice saying it on the radio. Bottom line: learning to write fast, with clever and accurate copy will get you a job in whatever medium you want.

TEXT: Broadcast News, Mitchell Stephens, 4th edition. (This book is outrageously expensive, but it is the only one that focuses more on radio than TV, so please share a copy with a classmate).
YOU MUST READ at least one newspaper daily. Read the paper thoroughly and bring your copy with you to class.There will be periodic pop Quizzes. You cannot go out and ask intelligent questions to newsmakers if you are not following the news CAREFULLY.

National Public Radio programming (WBUR 90.9 or WGBH 89.7)
BBC – airs on WBUR 9-10am and other times throughout the week
WBZ or other commercial all news radio station. (1030AM)

You each must serve as a newscaster at least three times during the semester for the student radio station, WTBU. This consists of writing a 2 minute headline newscast (no tape rquired, but always appreciated. We have the Associated Press audio feed at WTBU, tape is easy to get and will jazz up your newscast). WTBU has two minute updates several times a day, so you should be able to find a time that fits into your schedule. To arrange a time, contact the WTBU news directors and tell them what times you are available to be a newscaster. Please send me an email to tell me when you will be on the air, and record your newscasts onto cassette or minidisc or CD and give them to me. One must be done by the end February, end of March, and end of April. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST WEEK OF THE SEMESTER TO TRY TO DO THESE. THE NEWS DIRECTOR NEEDS TO WORK YOU INTO THE SCHEDULE EARLY IN THE TERM. I WILL NOT ACCEPT UPDATES PAST THEIR DUE DATE, SO PLAN ACCORDINGLY.

Be Prepared!
Students should arrive in class having listened to all news radio (public
radio WBUR or WGBH or commercial all news station WBZ). Students should also bring with them copies of either the Boston Globe, New York Times or Boston Herald.

You will need an SD memory card to record audio onto. The Tascam recorder can take 64MB-2GB or 4GB-32GB SDHC cards. The other audio recorders require a 2GB or smaller, so if you aren’t sure which recorder you will be able to get out of the equipment depot, buy the 2GB card to be safe.
Cell telephone is not required, but sure comes in handy when you are out in the field. If you don't have a cell phone, bring change or a calling card for calls from public pay phones (if you can find them!!).

I give every assignment a numerical value 1 through 5. Your grade is calculated by the total number of points you earn in the semester. An unexcused absence counts as a 0 and any assignments or quizzes that were given that day will count as 0.
1 means you passed in the assignment but failed miserably.
2 means the work was flawed and needs major revision.
3 means the work is adequate, not special.
4 means the work is good. Solid.
5 means the work is exceptional, professional quality.

50%-- You will write news stories in class almost every week. You each have a job in the newsroom. Whether you are the newscaster, engineer, spot reporter or producer, how well prepared you are to assume that job is graded. Everything you write and produce will be graded. Periodic pop quizzes and all in class work will account for about half of your final grade.
25% --. Homework assignments including editing and field reporting, and WTBU newscasts will count toward that 25%.
25% -- Your writing test will count 25%.

IMPORTANT - Please check in with me after the half way mark in the semester so that you can see how you are doing. I will treat this as a professional newsroom. If you come in having read the papers and listened to the news, you'll do fine. If not, it shows, and you'll have a hard time meeting deadlines. Failure to meet deadlines, means failing that assignment. THIS IS THE NEWS BUSINESS: NO LATE WORK WILL BE ACCEPTED.

Please read the guidelines on this carefully. You are to use only tape that you record in the field. If you are doing an internship and have access to other tape sources, you can use that ONLY with my permission, and with the permission of your internship supervisor. If you are doing a TV story and want to use the audio, you may do it ONLY with my permission. You cannot use tape off the TV or radio without attribution and/or permission. You cannot “double dip” –pass in the same story for this class and another class. You cannot have your roommate or friend pretend to be a source. Students have failed this course and/or been put on academic probation for not adhering to these guidelines.


Jan 26
Introduction to radio news. Review Syllabus. Commercial vs. public radio. Feeds, sources of radio news. AP, CNN, ESPN ONLY, with attribution.
Terminology. Student Survey. In class writing sample.
Writing workshop.
“Tight, bright, right”. Writing to time, writing for the ear, what you see
Terms: ax, trax, voicer, wrap, reader, Q&A, two-way, double ender

Text: Read Chapters 1-4. Do exercises at the end of chaps. 1 (all), 2 (just the odd numbered sentences, chapter 3 just the even numbered sentences in part A, chap 4, just the even numbered sentences.
Bring photo memory SD card to class next week, AND EVERY WEEK HEREAFTER

February 2
Possible current events quiz. Field Reporting workshop
BRING A photo memory card TO CLASS
How to record phone interviews using Gentner.
Vote on Theme music, news, sports, weather, entertainment

ASSIGNMENT: Text: Read chaps. 5 do exercises A1-5, B- just the odd sentences. ,Chap 6 do all the exercises. & Chap 9 do both exercises, chap. 10, no exercises.
Record and write (but do not mix) a field report using two sources: one phone interview and one in person interview. Piece should run exactly one minute, plus a :10-:15 second host intro.

February 9
Possible quiz on book and current events
Production Workshop/ Protools, Audacity?
Mini-discs,, running the board, studio mics, Digital Audio Lab and Using AP Audio Feed
Listen to WBUR and WBZ newscasts. Discuss Writing.

ASSIGNMENT: Text: Read chaps 7, do all exercises, read chaps. 8 & 11
Mix a produced report. Take the field tape and script you recorded last week and mix it together. Put finished work into class (Donohue) folder.


TUESDAY February 17
Possible Quiz on Book or current events.
Producing a Newscast
What is a lead? Transitions, pacing, use of tape, vary casts for each half hour, kickers, collapsable copy, posts, reading and writing to time. JOB DESCRIPTIONS HANDOUT
Listen to, critique student productions and professional productions.
Demonstrate use of ambience in field reporting.
Discuss themes for upcoming shows and figure out teams. Each of you will have an on-campus beat that you need to check in on for news events.

ASSIGNMENT – Read Text 12 do all exercises &13
1. Get instructions from show producer. Hit “reply all” on all communication about the show so everyone knows what is going on -avoid repitition.
2. Write a comparison of WBUR and WBZ and BBC newscasts. What is the lead, national and local? Pacing: How many stories, how much tape? how many reporters - q&a, voicers or wraps? What was the kicker or collapsed copy? Which newscast do you like better and are likely to listen to, why? Write a two page critique.

February 23 First Newscast.
Live on WTBU(air some of the mixed field reports)

ASSIGNMENT – Read Text 18 &19
1. see class rotation schedule.
2. Schedule Second WTBU Newscast for March

March 2, 16, 23, 30, April 6, 13: Live newscast on WTBU.
Functions will rotate weekly:each student will be assigned a job. See rotation schedule for your responsibility and assignment each week.

Remember to schedule FEBRUARY, MARCH AND APRIL news update on WTBU.



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