Broadcast News Syllabus

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Course Description

Methods in gathering, writing, and editing newscasts for radio and television.

Course Objectives

Throughout the course, you will learn the building blocks for your future career in journalism—writing, shooting and editing. You will learn how broadcast news is produced with an emphasis on multimedia journalism. The industry continues to evolve, so you will learn several newsgathering methods.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the semester, you will be able to:

  • Write compelling leads and stories for broadcast and online including social media
  • Write and maintain a blog with creative content
  • Shoot well-framed and lit photos, video stories and interviews
  • Sequence edit using natural sound and reporter track to tell compelling stories in Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the values and expectations of a broadcast newsroom

Required Texts & Materials

You will need the following items for this course:

  • Briggs, Mark.  Journalism Next: A Practical Guide to Digital Reporting and Publishing.  2nd
  • Tuggle, C.A.; Carr, Forest; and Huffman, Suzanne. Broadcast News Handbook: Writing, Reporting, and Producing in the Age of Social Media. 5th(The required chapters for this book will be provided as a PDF, but you’re encouraged to get this book.)
  • A mobile device that records HD video and audio. You must be able to retrieve that video and audio from your device and transfer it to a hard drive.
  • An external portable hard drive to edit projects. 500 GB is optimal.
  • A YouTube account.
  • Additional readings will be posted on Canvas and will be included in lectures and exams.
  • A Twitter account & at least an 8 GB thumb drive are also highly recommended.
  • All class notes are posted here:


The more you write, shoot and edit, the more likely you are to grasp the concepts of this course. There will be a wide-range of assignments. Those will be done during class time as well as outside of class. You’ll be tested on various broadcast news topics and how to use broadcast news equipment and social media. You will complete video projects, lead writing assignments, exams, an in-class social media assignment, and you will maintain a blog on a topic agreed upon with the instructor.


Video Stories       40%
Exams/Quizzes    25%
Lead Writing         10%
Blog                      15%
Social Media          5%
Florida Focus         5%

A+     97 — 100             A       93 – 96               A-      90 – 92

B+     87 — 89               B       83 – 86               B-      80 – 82

C+     77 — 79               C       70 – 76

D+     67 – 69               D       63 – 66               D-      60 – 62               F       59 or less

According to University policy, student may choose to withdraw from the course through the 10th week of the term with a grade of “W”. After that time no “W” grades will be granted.

Grading Criteria

Your work will be evaluated according to professional standards and its publishable quality

A = Outstanding. Publishable quality. Excellent content, ideas, writing, and reporting for appropriate style (i.e. broadcast, AP, web or mobile). Able to effectively shoot level and steady HD video. Edit with no jump cuts and clean, level audio. Understands importance of lighting.

B = Very good. Publishable with minor changes. Good content, reporting and writing skills. Shoots quality video but has few editing mistakes, including uneven audio levels or shaky video. Even lighting for video and/or interviews.

C = Average work. Requires substantial changes. Scripts require major rewriting, including correction of numerous style errors. Shaky video, several editing mistakes, uneven but still usable audio quality. Uneven lightning of video and/or interviews.

D = Poor quality. Assignment has fundamental problems — weak content, serious writing flaws. Multiple jump cuts in editing, unusable audio, unsteady video. Multiple shots of over- and/or underexposed video.

F = Unacceptable for these reasons: late, inaccurate, incomprehensible, factual errors or misspelled names. Plagiarism automatically results in an F and may warrant an F for the course or dismissal from the program. Countless jump cuts, unusable audio, poor video.

I = An “I” grade may be awarded to a student only when a small portion of the student’s work is incomplete and only when the student is otherwise earning a passing grade.

Equipment and Editing

You will use your own camera for all projects. Most of you will use your cell phone, but you are welcome to use other cameras if you prefer. You will have edit software available in class and on campus. Use your external hard drive to edit and save your work. Plan ahead to ensure you have time.

Your Time Outside of Class

If you’re serious about a career in journalism, this class must be your priority. Plan at least 6 to 10 hours of work per week outside class time to meet the requirements of Broadcast News. Journalists frequently make calls and catch up on current events outside the newsroom. You’re going to need time to research, write, and edit outside of class. You will read chapters before we discuss them. I will teach you how to manage your time efficiently so you can maintain a balanced workflow through your career.

No Late Work Accepted

In a newsroom, you are on deadline. If you miss slot or don’t turn in your story by the deadline, you would be reprimanded by your news director or supervising manager. We are treating this classroom like a newsroom. That means your work will be turned in on time or you will not receive a grade for the assignment. Your stories will be posted on WordPress and then submitted to Canvas. You must submit the permalink to your WordPress story and attach any and all supporting documents on Canvas before the time it is due to receive a grade. If you have any issues, remember partial credit is better than no credit.

Assignment Guidelines & Descriptions

Your Photo/Video Stories:

  • Each of these story ideas must be pre-approved.
  • Each video and text story must be uploaded to the USF Broadcast News group on WordPress and link submitted to Canvas by the deadline. Video will be embedded to your WordPress story via YouTube.
  • If you submit your assignment to Canvas after the deadline on the due date, no portion of your assignment will be graded.
  • The School of Mass Communications owns the copyright for anything you shoot, write, and edit. You can use the material for personal use (i.e. resume).
  • You must use an effective mobile device that records HD video and audio. You must use the Adobe Premiere Pro editing equipment available on campus.
  • You are required to shoot, write, and edit every assignment individually.
  • Set up your interviews in advance. Plan ahead so you know what video you will need.
  • Anyone featured in your videos must sign a video/photo release form. Upload a copy of your form to Canvas. Originals must be handed to your professor so we can digitally archive the forms. Submissions without video/photo release forms will receive a zero.

Digital Network FERPA Form

You will have the opportunity to submit your videos to the USF Digital Network. The professor will choose the highest quality work to showcase on the platform. If you want your work displayed, you must sign a FERPA Release Form.

Your Project Particulars:

Montage Project

Edit photos to make a video about yourself using Adobe Premiere Pro. You are welcome to use video and music if you want, but you are not required to. This assignment is intended to get you comfortable with the edit software, and also helps me learn more about you. If you are already comfortable using edit software, you can use this opportunity to create a video about yourself that you can use in your WordPress blogs and/or video resume.

If you use moves like zooms and pans, make sure they match the feel of your video. That means most of your zooms and pans should be slow and subtle, unless you’re trying to make a dramatic effect by moving quickly. The same goes for transitions. Make sure they match the mood of your video and are intentional, not random.

This is the only project that you’re not required to shoot any original photos or videos specifically for, but you’re welcome to do so.

Remember if you use vertical images or vertical video, scale to frame size to eliminate the black bars on the sides.

This should be about 45-60 seconds total. It will be edited during class time. Do not sit on photos for too long. 5-seconds is usually the max if you just have a still photo with no motion. The industry standard is 3-seconds per image or piece of video. The 3-second rule can be broken to match the pace of your video.

Submit the assignment by uploading your video to YouTube then paste the link into a WordPress blog post. Include a short AP style web story describing your video. Publish the post and submit the URL.

NOTE: avoid a common WordPress error! Make sure you submit the URL for the post, NOT the URL that takes me to your account. Always test your URL in another tab or browser to make sure. If you submit the incorrect link, you will automatically lose 10% off your grades.


Shoot and edit video footage into a VOSOTVO. The script should be 40-60 seconds. Submit a WordPress link on canvas. The link should be a blog post that includes the video, broadcast script and AP style web story. All AP style stories must include at least two quotes. Video should not include reporter track. If you want to track the video for extra credit, you will submit two different videos, one with the VOSOTVO video, and the other with your reporter track.

Whip Project

Profile someone outside of the School of Mass Communications. Shoot video to tell their story. Conduct an interview to get information for your story, and to get at least one sound bite (SOT=sound on tape). You are required to track a 00:50 VOSOTVO or edit a nat whip (00:50 pkg). Submit a WordPress link on canvas. The link should be a blog post or page that includes the video, broadcast script, web story (300-word minimum), and interview transcript with time codes at least once every minute.

News Story PKG Project

Report on a news event approved by the professor. Must be timely, relevant and newsworthy. Interview at least two people for this story. This package (PKG) must be between 00:50-1:30. Submit a WordPress link on canvas. The link should be a blog post or page that includes the video, broadcast script and interview transcript with time codes at least once every minute.

Your Choice PKG Project

Shoot and edit a PKG of your choice. Pick a topic you are passionate about. Focus on nat pops, emotional sound, a variety of angles and shots. You can track it like a reporter, or create a nat PKG, as long as it tells a story. Creativity is key in this project. Must be between 1:20-1:40. Submit your video, script and web story via a WordPress link.

Final Video Donut Project

Produce a feature story about one of the buildings on campus or a USF organization. Highlight the features, namesake, and options for students. You must research this story in advance. Video must be gathered during class time. You’ll interview at least two people during class time, so pre-arrange the interviews. This PKG must be between 1:20-1:40. You will not be able to shoot additional video or interviews outside class as we are simulating a deadline in a newsroom. Submit the video, web story and donut script via a WordPress link on canvas. The anchor toss should be an improved version of lead 4.

Your Lead Writing Assignments:

These four assignments will emphasize the key elements of lead writing and must be written in broadcast news style using capital letters and new, now, next. These leads will be anchor tosses to a PKGEach of these assignments will be completed during class time and cannot be made up at a later date.

Hard News Lead

You will be provided AP wire copy of a hard news story. Lead must be 2-3 sentences (no more than 20 seconds).

Fun Lead

You will be provided with details of a light-hearted story. These are often used as a kicker toward the end of a newscast. Lead must be 2-3 sentences (no more than 20 seconds).

Breaking News Lead

The instructor will serve as a public information officer giving facts of a developing story. No hard copy information will be handed out, so you must take good notes. Lead must be 2-3 sentences (no more than 20 seconds).

Final Video Project Lead

This lead will be associated with your final video project. It’s the anchor’s toss to your story. You must do research in advance of this assignment to craft a worthy lead. Lead must be 2-3 sentences (no more than 20 seconds).

Your Social Media Assignment:

This assignment will show what you’ve learned about social media in the weeks prior. This assignment will be completed in-class.

Your Florida Focus Assignment:

You have an incredible opportunity to add this to your resume: I aired my work in the 11th largest television market in America. This sentence alone can land you a job. Do not underestimate the impact this will have on your future.

You will be required to work a Florida Focus show at least three times throughout the semester. Professor Cathy Gugerty will assign you a newsroom or production job like graphic designer, scriptwriter, teleprompter operator or camera operator.

Florida Focus class is Monday-Thursday 2-5 p.m. The news brief airs on WEDU, one of the largest PBS affiliates in the country. The briefs will also be posted online.

In addition to participating in the production of the news brief, you will submit the URL of each brief on Canvas. You will explain your role in each brief. I encourage you to add this to your resume and cover letter.

Cathy Gugerty will also give you the opportunity to submit a TV news reporter package for consideration to air on a Friday episode of Florida Focus. The video package must be 1:20 with an anchor intro and tag that adds up to 20 seconds for a total of 1:40.

On Canvas, please submit a tweet, Instagram or Facebook post with an image, video, or live stream and an SEO headline describing the role you played in the brief that day. Tag Florida Focus, Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications, and me. This is due by 11:59 p.m. the day the brief airs.

Your WordPress Assignments:

You are required to set up a WordPress account that will serve two purposes. First, you will use that account to maintain a blog on a topic you are passionate about which will be graded at the end of the semester. Second, you will post your project assignments to WordPress to simulate working in a newsroom environment. The project assignment posting procedures will be explained in class before you first project is due; however, before that happens, you will need to give me your email associated WordPress username, so that I can invite you to the USF Broadcast News group.

Your Blog Particulars:

Pick any subject that you have an interest in consistently writing about whether it’s baking, a sports team, a TV program, how to train your dog—the possibilities are endless. You will be required to:

Give your blog a name and a “look”.

Shoot and upload a minimum of five journalistic-quality photos with appropriate captions that reflect your topic. For example, a blog about dog training will have photos of dogs, treats, and leashes; a blog about the TV show Scandal could showcase a few people watching the TV, or the blog about how to win Fantasy Football could show a collection of jerseys or a fan managing the team on an iPad. This is a great chance to be creative with multimedia.

Post at least 100 words on a weekly basis starting February 25, 2018. You will submit one link containing at least 8 BLOG POSTS by April 18, 2018. You can choose to write daily or weekly, but the minimum is 100 words every week. The word count does not include your headline entry, and each post should have an attention-grabbing headline and great lead as we discuss during the course. You should also include links to related resources like news stories, videos or even another blog on each entry. The best way to get a good grade is to include a lot of multimedia embeds and hyperlinks. Embed social media, embed memes, and embed videos. Make this ENGAGING.

Makeup Exams

A deadline is a deadline so there will be no makeup dates for video projects or writing assignments; however, makeup exams will be given if you provide written explanation prior to the exam date and it is approved by the instructor. Without prior notification, a makeup exam is not possible. The in-class assignments cannot be made up later because they simulate a deadline situation.


You are allowed two absences without a medical excuse. If you do not sign the attendance sheet, you will be counted absent. After two absences, any absence requires a medical excuse or points will be deducted from your final grade. Any medical excuse must be turned in the class immediately following the one you miss. Without a medical excuse, each absence beyond two (2) will result in a half letter grade deduction off your final grade (i.e. B- to C+, then C+ to C). You are still required to turn in all work on deadline regardless of any absence. No late assignments will be accepted.

USF Policies

Academic Integrity of Students:

Academic integrity is the foundation of the University of South Florida System’s commitment to the academic honesty and personal integrity of its university community. Academic integrity is grounded in certain fundamental values, which include honesty, respect, and fairness. Broadly defined, academic honesty is the completion of all academic endeavors and claims of scholarly knowledge as representative of one’s own efforts. The final decision on an academic integrity violation and related academic sanction at any USF System institution shall affect and be applied to the academic status of the student throughout the USF System, unless otherwise determined by the independently accredited institution.

Disruption to Academic Process:

Disruptive students in the academic setting hinder the educational process. Disruption of the academic process is defined as the act, words, or general conduct of a student in a classroom or other academic environment which in the reasonable estimation of the instructor: (a) directs attention away from the academic matters at hand, such as noisy distractions, persistent, disrespectful or abusive interruption of lecture, exam, academic discussion, or general University operations, or (b) presents a danger to the health, safety, or well-being of self or other persons.

Student Academic Grievance Procedures:

The purpose of these procedures is to provide all undergraduate and graduate students taking courses within the University of South Florida System an opportunity for objective review of facts and events pertinent to the cause of the academic grievance. An “academic grievance” is a claim that a specific academic decision or action that affects that student’s academic record or status has violated published policies and procedures, or has been applied to the grievant in a manner different from that used for other students.

Disability Access:

Students with disabilities are responsible for registering with Students with Disabilities Services (SDS) in order to receive academic accommodations. SDS encourages students to notify instructors of accommodation needs at least 5 business days prior to needing the accommodation. A letter from SDS must accompany this request. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Sexual Misconduct/Sexual Harassment Reporting:

USF is committed to providing an environment free from sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual violence (USF System Policy 0-004 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.). The USF Center for Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention is a confidential resource where you can talk about incidents of sexual harassment and gender-based crimes including sexual assault, stalking, and domestic/relationship violence. This confidential resource can help you without having to report your situation to either the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSSR) or the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity (DIEO), unless you request that they make a report. Please be aware that in compliance with Title IX and under the USF System Policy, educators must report incidents of sexual harassment and gender-based crimes including sexual assault, stalking, and domestic/relationship violence. If you disclose any of these situations in class, in papers, or to me personally, I am required to report it to OSSR or DIEO for investigation. Contact the USF Center for Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention: (813) 974-5757. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

University Emergency Policy

In the event of an emergency, it may be necessary for USF to suspend normal operations. During this time, USF may opt to continue delivery of instruction through methods that include but are not limited to: Canvas, Elluminate, Skype, and email messaging and/or an alternate schedule. It’s the responsibility of the student to monitor Blackboard site for each class for course specific communication, and the main USF, College, and department websites, emails, and MoBull messages for important general information.

Religious Observances

All students have a right to expect that the University will reasonably accommodate their religious observances, practices and beliefs. If you observe religious holidays, you should plan your allowed absences to include those dates.

The Writing Studio:

The Writing Studio is a free resource for USF undergraduate and graduate students. At the Writing Studio, a trained writing consultant will work individually with you, at any point in the writing process from brainstorming to editing. Appointments are recommended, but not required. For more information or to make an appointment, visit (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., stop by LIB 2nd Floor, or call 813-974-8293.

The instructor reserves the right to make any syllabus changes throughout the semester.

Class Schedule: (subject to change)

January 8
Introduction of course requirements

January 10
Discuss Chapter 1 & 4 Mobile impact on mass communications. What makes a good story? (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Behind the scenes (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Set up WordPress account & submit your user email to Canvas for USF Broadcast News Group invite.

January 15 MLK Holiday No Class

January 17
Edit training (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Bring videos and/or photos to edit, external hard drive or thumb drive, and headphones

January 22
Edit training, YouTube & WordPress

January 24
Montage Project Due (video and web story only, no script)
Characteristics of Broadcast News Writing (BNH Chapter 1) Framing and Composition (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Lead Writing (BNH Chapter 3)

January 29
Florida Focus visit. Meet in studio on first floor CIS.

January 31
Discuss Chapter 5 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

February 5
Newswriting (BNH Chapters 6-7) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Shoot your edit project VOSOTVO this week.

February 7
Package Writing (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Lead Assignment #1

February 12
Discuss Chapter 6 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Show me your edit project video

February 14
Editing Project Due (video, web story & script)
Newsroom Jobs (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

February 19
Exam #1 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Discuss Chapters 2 & 3

February 21
Start your blog this week (1st post due Sunday, Feb. 25)
Promotional Writing—teases and promos (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

February 26
Whip Project Due (video, web story, interview transcript, script). Watch videos in class.

February 28
Watch your videos in class.
Lead Assignment #2

March 5
Social media (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

March 7
Where you can get a job (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Nielsen Ratings (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

March 12-18 SPRING BREAK

March 19
Breaking news (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Lead Assignment #3
News Story Project Due (video, interview transcript and script). Watch videos in class.

March 21
Watch your videos in class.

March 26
Exam #2

March 28
Discuss Chapters 8 & 9 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Search Engine Optimization (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

April 2
Using Social Media Partial In-Class Assignment

April 4
Producing News 101—How to create rundowns & story assignments (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Show me Your Choice PKG video

April 9
Your Choice PKG Project Due (video, web story and script). Watch videos in class.

April 11
Watch your videos in class.

April 16
Shoot Final Video PKG Project

April 18
Lead Assignment #4 (the toss to your final PKG)
Show me your final video PKG
Blog due

April 23
Final Video Donut Project Due (video, web story, and script). Watch videos in class.

April 25
Watch your videos in class.
LAST DAY OF CLASS Review for final exam

April 26 & 27 READING DAYS