This course will require a serious time commitment because students will be learning about journalism as well as production. Plan for approx. 10 hours/week: 4 hours in class, 2 hours in the Lab and 2-4 hours of homework during the first half of the semester. Later, most of the work will be shooting and editing. There is no final exam, but know that the final film will require large amounts of editing time.
Students will be divided into teams of 4, each team will produce a 10-minute film on a public policy/social issue pitched by students and approved by the Executive and Senior Producers. Each student will be required to write critiques of TV programs, a paper on the Hockenberry book and a final journal reflecting on the filmmaking experience. Everyone is expected to prepare for and participate in class discussions, and to be a good team player. There will be one mandatory individual meeting with the professor to discuss papers and student progress. Late work will not be accepted. Class and lab attendance is required. Absences must be reported in advance (excused only for emergencies).
Please Note: This is not a traditional class - our schedule and syllabus assignments may change due to news events, student interests, production and scheduling issues, and guest speaker availability. We're covering current event stories -- be prepared to be flexible.
This course uses a "Course Reader", which is a compilation of published materials from many different sources. Please reference the Weekly Readings document for complete citations of the readings mentioned below. You will also find them linked to the appropriate week on the "Readings" schedule.
Review syllabus, course requirements, newsroom setup; discuss students' experience in journalism and social change. Screen Tufts student films from previous classes and discuss the role of media and civic engagement. Students will write a personal statement in class.
2. Intro -- TV News Magazines, Documentaries & Using Media for Positive Social Change
Discuss student story ideas. Overview of the TV news and documentary business: the recent scandals involving unethical journalistic practices, the proliferation of Web-based media, network and cable non-fiction media, independent documentaries, tabloid and reality shows. Talk about what gets on the air, who gets on, and who is excluded; the impact of demographics, advertising and ratings; the importance of the Internet as an advocacy tool. Screen clips from Edward R. Murrow's documentary "Harvest of Shame" and "Los Colonias" from CBS "60 Minutes."
- Be prepared to discuss your story ideas in class.
- Read Course Reader, Week 1
3. Camera Workshop #1
Shooting broll & recording an interview, taught by Don Schechter.
- Write a 2-page critique of any news magazine or documentary program focusing on storytelling and the use of visual images, lighting, and camera angles
- Read Course Reader, Week 2
- Buy small 3-hole binder for production lab materials
5. New Media... New Journalism and Smarter Web Surfing
* Guest speaker: Sreenath Sreenivasan, Professor of New Media and Dean of Students, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, tech guru, WABC-TV, co-founder South Asian Journalists Association
Sree will give a web research seminar and discuss the role of new media as a tool for social change. Students will learn how to get accurate information from reliable sources on the Internet. Sree has coached more than 6500 journalists including investigative reporters from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and 20/20.
6. How to Research and Pitch Stories & the Importance of Ethics in Journalism
Newsroom discussion about the programs that students screened and critiqued. Review the ethical rules of journalism; how to research a story; find sources and characters; how to write a good pitch that focuses on "characters in conflict," and the visuals you plan to film. Screen "Dateline; Veil of Tears" about the impact of the Taliban on Afghan women.
- Read Intro & Chapters 1, 2, 3 of Elements of Journalism and prepare to lead a class discussion on these chapters
- Write a 1-page pitch for a story idea and be prepared to discuss it in class.
7. Camera & Sound Workshop #2
How to record natural sound, taught by Don Schechter.
- Write a 2-page critique of any news magazine or documentary program focusing on interview techniques, lighting, framing and editing.
- Read Course Reader, Week 3
9. The Impact of Hip Hop on Society & Cultural Media Literacy & Civic Engagement
* Guest speaker: Ukumbwa Sauti, independent producer, cameraman, editor, musician
Ukumbwa will show examples of various media from TV, film, news, the internet and advertising and discuss the way media "stereotypes" people and stories by race, nationality, gender, ability, and age. He will talk about how the media can be used to distort issues for political purposes, and how it can be used for both negative and positive social change. He will also address the impact of media conglomeration.
- Each team hands in a 1-page research outline for your story
- Read Ch. 4, 5, 6 of Elements of Journalism and prepare to lead class discussion
- Read: www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/giants & www.projectthinkdifferent.org
10. Newsroom Trip to WCVB & Meet Anthony Everett
Meet the news director and learn about production schedules, assignments, news rundowns and how a newsroom operates. Tufts alum and WCVB anchorman, Anthony Everett, will meet with students to discuss his career and the news business.
11. Library Research Skills Training & Discuss Story Pitches
Taught by Connie Reik, Associate Librarian. Meet in the library research training room to learn how to use the library tools to research stories, find experts, headlines, and statistics. Attendance is mandatory.
13. Camera Workshop #3 - Interviews and Lighting & Screen Mini Movies
Taught by Don Schechter.
- Work on mini movies
14. Advocacy Vs. Documentary Journalism
* Guest speaker, Margie Reedy, former TV news anchor & Tufts University College Senior Fellow
Debate the difference between advocacy journalism, documentaries, and Fox News, Network News, CNN, and non-fiction films. Screen Margie's film, "Cable News Goes to War." Margie will discuss the role of a reporter in news reporting; how to prepare for an interview, how to get subjects to open up, and tips for script writing.
- Read p.150-300 of Hockenberry
- Read Course Reader, Week 5
15. The Art of the Interview, Production Planning & Script Writing
Learn how to: find the right person to interview, book the interview, conduct it in a refined manner; find a story with a strong character in conflict; write questions, interpret body language, make your subject feel comfortable, ask tough questions. We will also discuss how to handle emotional interviews and relationships with your characters. We will review how to create a production schedule, write scripts, and handle team dynamics. Screen CBS, Ed Bradley profile "BB King: King of the Blues." Good writing is essential to connect hours of tape and create a compelling story. We will review the basic techniques for script-writing and structuring stories.
- Hand in typed production schedule, list of characters and contacts
- Read Course Reader, Week 6
16. Isaac Brody on Independent Filmmaking
* Guest speaker: Isaac Brody, Independent Documentary producer (Tufts alum)
Isaac Brody will talk about getting work as an independent filmmaker and will screen his film "Sipho and Joyce" produced for UNICEF Swaziland about AIDS orphans. Isaac's documentary was selected for the 2005 Boston International Film Festival and the Zimbabwe International Film Festival. He will discuss how to plan shoots, book interviews, organize broll, production notes, plan editing sessions, and work in teams.
- Hockenberry Critique 5-6 pages due in class
- Script Outline #1 due via email (feedback will be given over weekend via Email)
17. Special Film Screening - "Emmanuel's Gift"
Guest speakers are the producers, Tufts alums (and sisters) Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern. Film is narrated by Oprah Winfrey.
18. Crisis in American Media and The Reporter's Role
* Guest speakers: Edie Magnus, "Dateline NBC" Correspondent and Wendy Murphy, attorney, law professor and TV news commentator
Edie will discuss the role of a correspondent in network news magazine stories; Wendy will discuss the role of the expert "commentator." They will both address how they prepare for interviews and deal with sensitive subjects and ethical dilemmas. We will also address the way the media covers issues of sexual violence and child welfare; the CBS News scandal, Judith Miller's imprisonment and the ethical issues that arise when journalists become advocates. Screen clips from Edie and Wendy's stories. Teams will give progress reports on their stories.
- Read Course Reader, Week 7
- Script timeline with verbatim summaries of the story due in class
19. Media Law and Ethics
* Guest speaker, Lisa Green, VP Standards & Practices, NBC News, New York
Lisa Green, attorney and former journalist, will discuss the role of the Standards and Practices department in NBC's news division. In the wake of the recent scandals involving unethical journalistic practices (CBS News, the New York Times), journalists must work even harder to gain the public trust. At the same time, journalists like Judith Miller are willing to go to jail to protect their confidential sources. How can journalists protect their sources in the current political environment? We will also discuss the ethical practices that are essential to regain public trust; how a reporter should represent her/himself, the First Amendment, hidden cameras, national security, and Freedom of Information Act.
- Read ch. 7, 8, 9, 10 of Elements of Journalism and prepare to lead discussion
- Script #1 is due
20. The Power of the Media to Affect Social Change
* Guest speaker: Sherezade Daruvalla King, founder, "Project Think Different"
We will discuss: what is social change, how is it different from individual and cultural change, examples of achievements in social change, how social change is accomplished, where can media projects fit in to the organizing process. We will also address social issue reporting and why it is difficult to get investigative stories about human rights, race, gender, poverty, and the environment aired on network TV. What is the role of advocacy groups like "Witness" or "Human Rights Watch"? Sherezade will discuss the mission of her non-profit, "Project Think Different," to help young people use the media to express their passions and share their messages of social and political change. She will also discuss issues of the "digital divide."
- Script #2
- Check website for: www.projectthinkdifferent.org and screen films and listen to music on the site. Prepare questions for guest speaker.
- Read Course Reader, Week 8
21. Media Images of Women
* Guest speaker: Professor Diane Rosenfeld, Harvard Law School
Professor Rosenfeld will screen and discuss her film, "Rape Is," and address issues of sexual violence and the law. Rosenfeld will also screen "After Killing us Softly" and lecture on media images of women. Screen "Rape Is" in class.
23. Making Films that Make a Difference
* Guest speaker: Margaret Lazarus, Academy Award winning filmmaker and Founder of Cambridge Documentary Films
Margaret Lazarus will discuss how she got into the business of making docs for social change, and how to use documentaries to advocate for change. We will screen clips from her films and screen two student films - first rough cuts.
- Edited film should reflect script changes
- Research Margaret Lazarus, www.cambridgedocumentaryfilms.org, www.newenglandfilm.com/news/archives/02september/lazarus.htm
24. Screen & Critique Rough Cut #1
* Guest speaker: Sue Cohn, independent filmmaker
Sue will screen and critique 2 student films and discuss "How to Make a Film on a Shoestring Budget."
- Film Cut #1
26. Reporting on Social Justice and Race Issues
* Guest speaker: Jason Samuels, "Dateline" NBC Producer
Screen "A Pattern of Suspicion," a documentary about racial profiling, produced by DuPont-Columbia Award winning investigative producer, Jason Samuels for "Dateline NBC." Jason will address: coverage of race in the media, the use of the media as an educational tool for social change, and the inside scoop on airing the story. Samuels will also discuss his career path at NBC.
30. Students' Lessons Learned
Dress rehearsal for final screening. Discuss student experiences in filmmaking, interacting with characters and what potential impact the films may have. Also, lessons learned through this process. Screen other college video media.
Students will be required to provide the name, address, phone number and email of all story sources. As in a professional news organization, I will periodically call sources to check on the accuracy of the information. These source lists will allow you to do what every professional reporter does:
a) "fact check" - check back with sources to confirm a point or add a detail and
b) build a resource list of people to call upon for future stories.
- Two (2-page) critiques of news programs or documentaries such as: PBS "Frontline," "60 Minutes," "20/20," "Dateline," "48 Hours," "Nightline."
- One (4-5 page) reaction paper to: Hockenberry, John. Moving Violations. Hyperion Press. New York, New York 1995
- One (4-5 page) reflection paper
- Write and produce - in teams - a 10-15 minute film