Tag Archives: COM studies

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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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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.

This video is about Interview Simeng 2, bestof502

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

 

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COM grad students share their experiences from BU’s Washington program

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

There is no shortage of opportunities available to BU COM students seeking an internship. Between the rock star faculty, the countless Boston-based news outlets and publications, to the BU-run programs, you’d be hard-pressed to run out of places to send your resume. BU’s Washington, DC Internship Program is one of the invaluable resources available to us, allowing students interested in a number of different disciplines to study and intern in one of the world’s most influential capital cities. From health to public relations, politics to the arts, program participants are able to base their internship on a targeted field of study and take complimentary elective courses.

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I spoke with two graduate students currently enrolled in the Washington, DC program, to get an inside look at their internships. Dian Zhang, a third semester Business & Economics Journalism student originally from China, strives to be an international business reporter. Having completed her undergraduate degree in Business & Economics at BU, she has a solid business foundation that she wants to combine with her journalistic skills and multinational background. She has currently been with the Washington Program for one month.

dsc_0316“A lot of people come to Washington because they want to be involved in think tanks or politics. You see a lot of undergrads majoring in political science – they want to intern on the hill to work for a senator, but for me it’s not like that… I’d like to integrate my experiences to be a correspondent for Chinese media in the U. S. or go back to China and work for a U.S.-based journalism outlet…It’s really hard as an international student to find an internship, that’s the reality. If you can come to DC sponsored by the school and do an internship, it’s a good way to accumulate work experience. The program has been extremely helpful for me,” she says.

Dian is working at The Bond Buyer, a national trade newspaper focused on municipal bonds. Although her background is more general business, she says she’s been dealing with “a lot of numbers, reports, and statistics.” “I really enjoy it because it’s great to have the opportunity to get things published on a real, professional website and write stories with the help of editors and senior reporters. It’s been really rewarding,” she says.

10609420_341562349327303_7974710522429730936_n“The best thing about the program is that you’re not learning things you can get from a textbook. There’s a lot of practical professional training…We’re encouraged to meet a lot of people, go to conferences, and practice being social and professional. There is a class here every week based on the internship, and you also keep a journal about your work experience. If it weren’t for this assignment, I probably wouldn’t have taken the challenge to talk about my future goals,” says Dian. She goes on to say, “It’s important to step out of your comfort zone. I have a lot of friends that want to come here but they’re reluctant because they don’t want to leave Boston. It’s hard, but it’ll be great when you come to a new environment and learn new things.”

Jonathan Riley, also a third semester Journalism graduate student specializing in Political Reporting, has been in Washington, DC since August working for CNN’s Investigative Unit. “I’ve been interested in politics for a long time and DC is the place to be if you’re into politics,” he says. Although he can’t talk much about the specifics of his job, he explains: “Just being in Washington is a learning experience in itself. You can follow politics in the news but you don’t get a real sense of how the federal government works on a day-to-day, practical level until you’re here. When you’re here, no matter what you’re doing really, you’re in the middle of it.”

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“I think the Washington Program is a really great opportunity for BU students that a lot of other schools wish they could have. Particularly for grad students, and communication students in particular, I think it’s a terrific opportunity. DC is a huge journalism market. The federal government is here. National and international politics happens here, so there are great opportunities for people on the PR side of things as well. If you’re into politics, or even if you’re not sure and want to see if politics is something you could get interested in, I would definitely recommend the program,” he says.

If you’re interested in learning more about the program, an information session will be held Thursday, October 9 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. in COM 317. Evening snacks will be provided, so if you’re in the market to grab a quick bite, you might gather some useful intel as well. Have you thought about a semester with the Washington Program? Do you plan on going to the information session? Comment below!

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I survived my first month of grad school! Here’s how…

By Gina Kim
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

It’s been a little over a month since graduate school has been in full swing. Now that I’ve gotten the hang of the T, the transit schedules and the eccentric teaching styles of some professors, I am bursting to say, I LOVE IT. That’s right. You got me, world. I admit it: I LOVE SCHOOL. I love the chaos, the stresses of impending deadlines, making sure I read the right chapters from my 2014 edition Media Law textbook, and the works. I love it all. I forgot how great it is to be back in the classroom. But did I ever stop and think about WHY exactly I love school, aside from having a sick sort of fetish for the anxiety and stress?

As student in the Journalism grad program, I am currently enrolled in 16 credits (actually, 14 since the Multimedia boot camp class is finally over after two full, grueling weekends). As for the rest of my schedule, I am happy to say I’m thoroughly enjoying all of my classes; however, there are a couple that especially stand out for me.

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I love my Journalism Principles & Techniques course. Every day we’re treated like we’re thrown into a newsroom and forced to approach every assignment as though we are real-life reporters. At first I was extremely intimidated by the class, but I soon realized this course will probably be one of the most important, practical courses I will take during my time at BU. Criticism is a daily part of our routine, but nonetheless, it’s what improves us as budding journalists and future reporters. I raise my hand at every chance to volunteer to have my paper read and critiqued in front of the entire class, something that the undergrad me would have never dreamed of having the guts to do; but here, there’s no such thing as a comfort zone. Journalism Print & Tech shoves us out there in the open and sees if we fight back. So far, I think I’m fighting back pretty well.

Media Law–this is probably the course for which I do the most work and real studying (don’t tell my other professors). This course is more academic, theory based, whereas most of my other classes are more practical and hands on. Media Law definitely intimidated the daylights out of me, and I struggled to keep up with the material in class for the first two weeks of the semester. I literally didn’t know what was going on the first few classes, and when I tried opening my copy of “Major Principles of Media Law”, safe to say, I didn’t understand a single word in the first chapter. Defenses against libel and slander? What’s that? What the heck is a “ride-along”? I knew right away this wasn’t a class that I could just “skate on by” without having to do much studying; it’s a lot of reading and constant reviewing. I’ve been repeating this to my classmates every day…you just can’t cram for a class like Media Law. It’s the same way you can’t cram for things like math or physics or chemistry back in the good old undergrad days. You have to constantly practice, be proactive, and stay on top of the reading. I had a feeling that amidst all of the practical courses I’m was taking, one would require me to dust off that old school method of studying from undergrad.

After I bombed my first “surprise” quiz (yep, we are subjected to those every week and so we’re always constantly on the edge of our seats), I decided it would be in my best interest to meet with the professor. With his help and some time, I eventually discovered the secrets behind skimming, pinpointing the vital concepts, applying the textbook material to the lectures in class, and the importance of participating during lecture. Now I’m proud to say I think I’ve got the hang of Media Law. See, these are all basic rules of old-fashioned education…we did this during college, and grad school is no different.

So far, my classes in graduate school have helped me realize that the mechanics you learn throughout your whole life can be utilized beyond college and post-graduate work. There will always be challenges, and a Masters program is no cakewalk. You have to bite the bullet, roll up your sleeves, and get your hands dirty. Time management is so important, whether you’re juggling three different jobs plus a full load of classes, or having assignment after assignment after assignment; it’s up to you whether you fight back or not. It’s your responsibility to know what’s going on in class and most of all understand what you’re really here for. That’s right…it’s about YOU. Ask yourself why you’re here, and perhaps that’ll remind you of the levels and magnitudes of success that you have the potential to reach, once you know why you’re willing to put in the effort.

I used to think going to school was a chore, something to complete because that’s what was expected of me. I wanted to stick it to the man… stick it to the establishment, or the power-that-be. BU COM has changed all of that, fortunately. You know that old cliché: “if you love what you do, you literally don’t work a single day in your life.” Whoever invented that phrase, they weren’t kidding. Graduate school really reminds me of that. You literally have to love being here, and you have to love what you are doing. Not a single person goes into any of our classes dreading lecture or dreading an assignment. Nobody is annoyed at how busy their schedules are. Everyone wants to be here. They are proactive, responsible, and brilliant. It is nothing like college where we’d always whine, “Man, forget that 8 a.m. I have to go to tomorrow, I’m just going to blow it off and sleep in” or “I’m way too hungover for class…do you want to go in there and sign the roll sheet for me?” None of that here! If you aren’t making the most of your class lectures, textbook materials and aren’t interested in how to get one step closer to success, then what on earth are you doing here? Given all the time and money we are investing in grad school, we better make sure we take advantage of the exclusive opportunities being served to us on a silver platter.

image1 (1)But, before I go, please do NOT think grad school is all work and no play. Although I have deadlines to fight and surprise quizzes to constantly be on the lookout for, I know it’s important to set aside time to still maintain a social life and do fun things around the city (but only after I finished my homework!). Thank goodness we aren’t stuffy academics who spend hours in research labs. We’re expected to be social, to go out and open up to others, interact with peers and most of all, have fun with what we’re doing. As a journalist, you can’t afford to be a shy introvert or afraid to be around people. So yes, you are allowed to (or in this case, implored) to have a life! It all starts with your attitude and again, as I mentioned before, time management. Having a healthy balance between everything is a great way to know that you have it all together. Forget that triangle of doom that made you choose between a social life versus good grades versus sleep. You can ace every category, as long as you know how to organize yourself.

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How did your first month of grad school go? Please share any funny stories or survival tips in the comment section below.

Not a College of Communication student? Tell us what program(s) you are interested in and why!