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A look at what happens inside a Broadcast Journalism grad class

By Nikita Sampath
MS Broadcast Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication 

Broadcast Writing/Reporting (Course: JO 707) is a course taught at BU’s College of Communication (COM) that all grad students interested in Broadcast Journalism should take in their first semester. As the title suggests, the course is designed to teach us how to write a story for broadcast news and report on camera.  The course, which is taught by Professor R.D. Sahl, a veteran journalist with 40 years of experience in the field, teaches the main requirements of good story writing. These include: good writing, videography, editing, sound, natural sound and tracking. Timing is of essence too.

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At the start of the semester, JO 707 introduced us to script writing for television broadcast– attention-grabbing, short and simple sentences, with editing and production commands. Each week, we begin class with a discussion of breaking news for the day.  We then spend a considerable amount of time watching and analyzing professional news packages. For an assignment, Prof. Sahl asked us to watch evening news telecast and break it down– number of stories, kinds of packages, whether the reporter was on screen etc. This helped us learn the different ways in which news stories can be broadcast.

As for equipment, we’ve learned to use the JVC 100/150u to shoot our news packages and how to access the recording booth to do our tracking and voice overs. All necessary equipment can be rented (free of cost) from COM’s Field Production Services. Additionally, we use Final Cut Pro X to edit videos. We are very lucky in the fact that this software is available to all students in all editing and Mac computer labs at COM.  It’s great that students don’t have to worry about buying equipment or software of their own.

It’s only been six weeks and the eight of us grad students in the class are capable of producing entire packages by ourselves, one or two of which could be aired with some additional editing.

Check out this news package on the peer-sharing ride Lyft, done by Broadcast Journalism grad student Iris Moore, for last year’s JO 707 class.

One student from JO 707 said, “Prof. Sahl is a meticulous evaluator. Having watched each of our packages several times he was able to give us valuable, detailed feedback so we don’t repeat our amateur mistakes in future packages.”

From JO 707, Prof Sahl says he hopes every student will take-away the following:

  • The best TV stories have strong writing, powerful video and sound, interesting characters and a compelling story line
  • Accuracy is the coin of the realm. Get it right.
  • Deadlines matter. Meet them.
  • Care about the stories you report. It will show in the final product.

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To learn more about the BU’s College of Communication Journalism graduate program, go here. A list of offered Journalism courses can also be found here.  

Have questions? Ask us in the comment section below. Also, be sure to visit our site to learn more about the various graduate programs we offer at COM.

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What it actually means to get a Masters in PR

 By Ali Parisi
MS Public Relations ’16
BU College of Communication

What is public relations you ask? Writing.

As a first semester PR grad student, that’s at least how I see it.  In fact, one of my favorite classes this semester has turned out to be Writing for Media Professionals with Professor Dorothy Clark.

In high school, if you had told me that I would end up loving writing, I would have flat out laughed in your face.  Back then, the only type of writing we did was to analyze works of literature.  And if you didn’t agree with the teacher’s analysis, you wouldn’t agree with your grade either.  That type of writing was just not for me.

But this class is the complete opposite.  Instead of writing to agree with someone else, I get to write for my audience (or, as we like to call them in PR, “publics”).  I get to write things that I can actually use in the fabled “real world.”

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For example, one assignment had us write a traditional news release.  To simplify things, Professor Clark had us write about a made-up conference for which she provided all of the information and facts about the hosting organization. That way, we could focus on both prioritizing the information to fit the format of a news release and also on writing in the objective voice, typical of that writing format.

To make this assignment even more hands-on, we also had to do a second, social media version of the news release; honestly, had no idea what a social media news release was before this class, but everyone knows that social media is huge today, and online news is growing faster than traditional media.  This assignment gave me a taste of both and helped me feel like I was actually learning something practical and applicable for my future career in PR.

Another assignment from this class, and easily my favorite so far, was to “create a blog with a focused brand for yourself” (straight from the syllabus).  I really enjoyed this assignment because we were able to write about something that we are truly interested in, rather than being assigned a topic that we don’t care about.  I chose to create a blog that focused on fashion from an athlete’s perspective.  Check it out here (Note: keep in mind that I made this site for the assignment and therefore it may not be perfect! Meaning the social media links don’t actually link to anything, etc.).

Everything we do in this class is up-to-date and tailored to fit the demands of new media.  Aside from the blog and news releases, we’ve also worked with Twitter, created a landing page for an event, and will be working on a feature and slideshow in the next few weeks.  We’re always talking about writing online as being a portal to other information, writing in your voice versus a company’s voice, and more.  Most of our assignments have second drafts, which gives us the chance to review and refine our work after getting criticism.  I feel that this is extremely valuable for the real workplace, where editors are more likely to chop up your work and spit it back at you, demanding a re-write.

If all of my classes in grad school are as engaging and hands on as this one, I have a feeling I’ll be just fine.

Check out the video below of Alumna Sandra Frazier (’01)  as she shares how the Public Relations courses she took at BU helped prepare her for working in the real world. Frazier is CEO of Tandem Public Relations in Louisville, KY.

Think you have better ideas for future PR assignments? Leave a note in the comments below!

Interested in BU’s College of Communication Public Relations graduate program? Ask us any questions in the comment section. Also, be sure to check out our program webpage for more information the various graduate programs we have to offer.  

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Behind the scenes of BUTV10

By Keiko Talley
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

BUTV10 is an on campus student organization made for and run by BU students. There are about 250 students in the organization, and each year it continues to grow due to the success of the students. Although there are mostly undergrads working with BUTV10, graduate students are also welcome to join.

Originally, before there was cable on campus, BUTV10 was called BUTV. In 2005, it was granted cable space and later turned into BUTV10. On campus students can watch BUTV10 on channel 10 or video on demand. Off campus, everyone is welcome to watch the live stream online.  BUTV10 offers a wide variety of shows including news, variety, sports, drama, and reality.

In the beginning of the fall semester, there is a general interest meeting where any and all students are welcomed. Students get to talk to different producers of different programs to get a better feel of what goes on and what is to be expected. After that meeting, there are frequent follow up meetings where students can further figure out which department and which program best suits their interests. For those students who missed the general interest meeting, the best way to express your interest in BUTV10 is by contacting them via their website, here. Although the program is run by students, there are two faculty advisors over looking all operations, Professor Chris Cavalieri and Professor John Carroll.

For example, BUTV10 has created BU’s only cooking show, “The Hungry Terrier” – your premier source of delicious “Rhett-cipes” and yummy eats around campus. The series focuses on giving you a good treat and keeping your wallet happy. Check out the first season below.

Most students join BUTV10 as an organization, but it is offered as a two-credit pass/fail class. According to Professor Cavalieri, all students are welcomed to join as long as they have the dedication and desire to engage in the discovery process. Like most jobs, BUTV10 is a place where you need to establish yourself before becoming a big name leader. New students are encouraged to come into the organization, but must be willing to work their way up; start with learning audio, then move to learning cameras, moving onto stage manager, and finally landing a spot in front of the camera.

As part of the new fall TV season trend, BUTV10 is airing its newest drama, Paper Trail. To hear what people are saying about this series, check out this recent article from BUToday. In the video below, watch the trailer for Paper Trail, which airs Tuesdays at 5 p.m. on BUTV10.

Additionally, I had the pleasure of seeing behind the scenes of Good Morning, BU, a program shown on BUTV10, since I recently joined their team. Although there are many undergrads working and producing the show, being a part of it has allowed me to see just what goes into producing Television programs. Building the set, working the lights, and writing the script for a half hour segment of Good Morning BU takes well over three hours. Most of this work is done the night before the show airs live. The last minute prep work and graphics are done an hour and a half before the show airs, followed by rehearsals of the program and sound check. The hours before going live are hectic and tensions are high. Everyone wants the show to be great and free of mistakes. After the show is over, a sense of accomplishment, relief, and pride is shown through the students’ facial expressions, for they can mark one more day down with a million lessons learned.

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Whether you’re a freshman or graduate student, getting involved with BUTV10 is a great way for you to learn what working for an actual TV production is really like. Click here to see how you can become a part of BUTV10.

From sports anchors to associate producers, check out some of our successful BU COM alums who were involved with BUTV10 by visiting the Alumni page.

Have you seen one of the shows on BUTV10? If so tell us which one was your favorite and what you thought of it!

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I spent my first two weekends of grad school in a journalism bootcamp… and I liked it

By Gina Kim
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

I remember when I registered for my fall 2014 Print Journalism graduate classes at BU’s College of Communication (COM). I took a good hard look at my schedule… I thought for sure there was a mistake. A typo. An abomination.

There, in black and white, on my BU Student Portal were the words “Multimedia Toolkit: Saturdays-Sundays 9-5:30 P.M.”

DAY 1- SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 6:  What I thought was just a sick joke, quickly turned to a harsh reality. Bright and early, I was on the Green Line with my backpack, blurry-eyed, hung-over and asking myself why on earth I was going to campus on a weekend. It was definitely boot camp alright. I felt as though I had joined the military.

Upon arriving at COM, we first learned how to rent equipment from the basement of COM. This included a Nikon camera, boom mic, and video/sound recorders (don’t worry, as I didn’t know what a boom mic was either). That day, Professor Peter Smith taught us everything we needed to know about operating a Nikon camera. He explained things in a “For Dummies” manner, so those who had never touched a camera before were not lost. We learned about camera terms including, aperture, light, F-Stops, ISO, etc. To say it was not a bit overwhelming for the first day would be a lie, but we all worked together and managed to get by.

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Photo of Lauren Westberg by Pankaj Khadka, MS Photojournalism ’15

After a lengthy lecture, we were given a few hours to go outside, get some fresh air (thank goodness), and take some test shots for practice. I’ve messed around with friends’ Canons and Nikons before, but I never knew what it really meant to fix apertures, quicken/slow down shutter stops, or how to fix lighting. It was incredibly interesting and actually quite enjoyable realizing all I had been missing out on in the photo world. Photography was always something I had been interested in, but I never really pushed myself out of my comfort zone to pursue the art. This boot camp reminded me of how multimedia skills and the art of photography are such important, integral parts of journalism and storytelling.

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Photo of Paul Dudley by Gina Kim, MS Journalism ’16

DAY 2- SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 7:  Today would be the day we learned how to use Adobe Lightroom. It sounds easier than it was, as there was so much information to take and remember. For our practice assignment, we had to upload nine finalized photos onto our Smug Mug accounts. Each photo had to meet specific requirements, such as different F-stops, a sequence shot, an action shot, etc. Once we actually started editing on the computer, Lightroom wasn’t too difficult to get the hang of, which was a relief. I think the lecture just sounded a lot more complicated than it actually was.

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Photo of Michelle Marino by Ann Wang

Over the next two weeks, we were expected to complete a multimedia project that determined our final grade.  The project entailed taking specific photos of our subject (our partners we chose for the duration of the boot-camp), and a feature mini-documentary on our subjects.

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Photo of Paul Dudley by Gina Kim, MS Journalism ’16

DAYS 3 & 4- SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13-14: This weekend we learned how to record video. Now, I’m no stranger to a video recorder (I formed an all-girl rock band in high school with my four best friends and made movies and music videos), but I still had a lot to learn.

Additionally, we learned how to use a mic and audio recorder, so that we could practice editing and syncing our audio and video footage in Final Cut Pro. This weekend was also when brainstormed ideas for our final multimedia projects. My partner Paul and I wanted to come up with a creative way of sharing our unique stories, like a feature piece of each other. That part wasn’t too tough; my subject was interesting, funny, inspiring, and intelligent. My biggest issue was trying to showcase all the things I wanted to about my partner in just two minutes.

Multimedia boot camp was a weekend class, but it didn’t mean our tasks were limited to just that Saturday and Sunday. My partner and I had to plan out production schedules, shoot b-roll, and edit. Luckily, we both were flexible and made it work. Click on the picture below to watch my video on Broadcast Journalism graduate student, Paul Dudley.

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POST BOOT CAMP REFLECTION:  Now that our class has been done for weeks, I have to be honest: physically, that class was a nightmare. It was tough being on campus all day, sacrificing our weekends and our freedom to go out to bars on Friday/Saturday nights.

However, it was DEFINITELY worth it. Even though I am in Print Journalism, I now know how to shoot, edit, use Adobe Lightroom, and operate Final Cut Pro 10! I realize what a blessing this course actually was, as it made me recognize the value of a journalist who can master multiple skills such as, producing, writing, shooting, and editing. This class is another addition to my list of somewhat “impressive” achievements on my resume, so hopefully it’ll give me more credibility as to what I can accomplish in the newsroom or out in the field.

Although going to school on the weekends was tough, it opened my eyes to the real-life demands of this profession. When it comes to reporting, journalism has no set schedule or designated weekends off. Journalism doesn’t wait for anyone. You have to be on top of things. I know, for sure, that later down the line during our successful careers (thanks BU), we will encounter many occasions where we sacrifice sleep, food, and a life for a story. Being a journalist means we eat, breathe, and live this field. It’s in our blood.

Want to know more about our Master’s Program in Journalism? Visit our page to learn how you can become a part of BU’s College of Communication. 

Check out Broadcast Journalism graduate student and COMgrad blogger, Nikita Sampath’s video from the Multimedia Toolkit boot camp class.

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Let us know what you think of our bloggers’ work in the comment section below!

 

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NYT Columnist David Carr talks about his first semester as a BU professor

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

For those lucky enough to attend BU Professor David Carr’s now sold out Fast Forward event at the Tsai Performance Center on October 20, he says it’s one he can genuinely recommend. “We’re both very honest and direct people,” says Carr of himself and event guest Jill Abramson, former Times executive editor. “She doesn’t mince words and I don’t really beat around the bush either.” Carr places most of the spotlight on Abramson, calling her a “ferocious” journalist and anticipates the event being not much different from a talk between the two on the train (Abramson currently teaches at Harvard, just across the river).

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The event will focus on new media and its impact on the field of journalism, both good and bad. Carr, who is currently testing out his first class “Press Play” this semester, teaches BU students the art of making and distributing content. He says the title of professor still hasn’t grown on him, but he trusts it will eventually. “It still kind of freaks me out,” he says. The class is small, with only 16 students and requires a writing sample and selection to get in. Carr says he cast the class to include students with varied backgrounds and expertise, since a lot of focus is placed on co-editing.

He thinks he’s done pretty well so far, and is pleasantly surprised by the students, who he calls “deadly serious.” Although he explains the sunk costs of starting a class are extremely high, he is learning and tweaking as he goes. Some challenges encountered have been balancing great guest speakers with other class activities, and sounding off on ideas that may take longer to implement in reality than in theory.

When asked what the most valuable skill a journalist today can have, Carr says it used to be just about resumes and clips, but now it’s about what can you make with “your own two dirty little hands.” He goes on to explain what he calls the “atomic skill”: “Can you write me 400 clean accurate words in a limited amount of time and find a way to distribute those words?”

In terms of the economy and journalism employment, he says there’s a lot more bounce than there used to be. At a recent event, he saw several companies hiring, something he wasn’t seeing a few years ago. Journalism is a field that’s always been difficult to get into, but Carr feels BU does a good job of exposing students to the waterfront of what they’ll encounter in the real world. “The world doesn’t tolerate tardiness or mediocrity,” he says, which is why he holds his students to a very high standard.

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Having a professor like David Carr at BU’s College of Communication is a real asset to the school, faculty and most of all students. His focus on new media is in the thick of where journalism is right now, and will continue in the future. If you’re interested in being placed on the waitlist for the David Carr and Jill Abramson event on October 20, click here.

Already have your tickets? Tell us in the comment section what you hope to gain from this event!

Interested in learning more about graduate school at BU’s College of Communication? Tell us what program (s) you are interested in and why. Also be sure to visit our homepage to learn more about what COM has to offer!