Friday, March 10, 2017

3/8 Class

                  At the start of class, Professor Piacente asked us all to join the Skimm, which provides daily summaries of important news events. Everyone should have received an email invite to join, but it can also be found here.
                  He recommended anyone who has not already read the broadcast chapter, do so before next class. He also reminded us that broadcast journalism is in the present tense, while news articles are past tense.
                  Professor Piacente suggested that we all go back and read over blog posts from previous classes. These posts could contain useful information about the class, but this is not a mandatory assignment.
                  He also reviewed the section of the syllabus relating to missed assignments and said that he wanted to meet with everyone in the class, but that it was our responsibility to set up a meeting.

Then the class discussed the news articles we found for homework, that we felt violated the Journalist’s Code of Ethics . Our other homework was collected at the end of class.
                  We were then split into groups of 2-3. Case studies dealing with real ethical dilemmas in journalism were assigned to each group. After the groups had fifteen minutes to examine and discuss their study, each presented their case study and their decision to publish the story or not. The class debated the merits of each decision, and pointed out additional ethical concerns. Professor Piacente told us the outcome of each case a the end of class.
Homework according to the syllabus
                  Bring in a powerful feature/be prepared to discuss it

posted by Laila Rosenthal

Monday, March 6, 2017

Monday Blues Remedy

Got the Monday blues? Bogged down under the weight of midterms stress on top of everything else? Check out this excellent article that is sure to make you laugh a little at least.

I came across this excellent piece of journalism that relates to our assignment from last week, and it certainly made my Monday better. Apparently "White House Easter Bunny" is a new bonus qualification for Press Secretary. 

I hope you all enjoy, and have a great rest of your Monday! See you all Wednesday!


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March 1, 2017 Class Blog Post

Friday Morning Post

We started class by going over the homework. First, we talked about wordiness. From this, we learned that tense and titles should never be cut because they are very important pieces of information. Additionally, Professor Piacente pointed out that the errors involved in wordiness are much easier to see in examples than our own work. The next assignment was an Op-Ed about Sean Spicer in which most of the class expressed very negative opinions. 
The next activity was writing a PR lead for a story about the passing of Little Mikey, the National Zoo’s oldest giraffe. 
Key learnings from this:
1. PR should address the way the organization is handling the issue
i.e. “The National Zoo mourns…”
2. Empathy is key. PR professionals should look to create empathy
3. We all need to remember that “when” should be placed within the sentence
To see an example of poorly done PR, we looked at the Exxon Valdez oil spill that occurred off the coast of Alaska in 1989. This further reinforced the value of getting empathy from the audience. In an interview following the incident, the president of Exxon did not even apologize for what he did, nor did he understand the plan that was recently published to deal with the issue. His body language gave the impression he did not care and he spoke with a condescending tone. Overall, this was a disaster that should be looked to for what not to do in an emergency situation.
Before he came in to talk with us, David Culver of NBC4 asked Professor Piacente to show the work he had done Wednesday throughout the day on the Metro. 
Professor Piacente then began a discussion of our favorite speakers. For those who enjoyed Krista’s talk, they said they liked that she traveled some and had a connection to the non-profit world. Some students even have meetings coming up with her. For those who liked Dan’s talk, they said his career was something they could see themselves doing in the future. A few students were just excited for David Culver.

David Culver came in for the second half of class and told us about his experience
Lessons from Culver
1. “if you see something, you’ve got to say it” This referenced the importance of pairing voiceovers with video. Broadcast news 
            should be engaging and make use of airspace.
2. While networking often gives each party a colder feel, Culver recommended that we look at it rather as relationship building.     
            He cited many stories of how his connections allowed him to get a leg up over his colleagues. 
3. When talking about how to work with a microphone on camera and use your voice effectively, he referenced tips he got from a 
            voice coach he saw a few times in New York. First, breathe. Take a minute to calm down and organize your thoughts. Second, 
            trust the mic. Even in loud situations, you do not need to yell into the mic. This distorts your voice and makes it harder to 
4. He has had to report on rather dull topics and has to appeal to a very broad audience, so he recommends focusing on the 
            characters of a story as much as possible. Getting the human piece of a story and how people feel will make the audience 
            care more.
5. NBC4 is rather unique as a new station because it does not look to its peers for a standard of comparison. When covering 
            each story, Culver first looks to his connections and then to his own creativity to cover all aspects of the story. If he does not 
            have the same sources as another network, he works with what he has. Additionally, he has found that reporters will generally 
            help each other with getting interviews.
6. Finally, he gave us one last bit of advice: “Surround yourself with decent and good people. It will serve you well.

Homework due Friday at 5 pm: 
Write a PR press release for the information in section 1 of the worksheet we got in class
(Remember what we learned about leads from the Giraffe story)

Homework for next week:
Exercise 10.15 on the Bank Robbery
Do number three from the information sheet. The directions say to fix the issues with the press release.
Read the Journalism Code of Ethics and find a current story that possibly violates it
(Optional) Use number two from the homework sheet to write a news story. (This will not be in the grade book but can be sent to our professor for feedback.)

That’s all for this week!

Posted by: Meghan Howie

Friday, February 24, 2017

2/22/ Class

         We began class with a discussion about the differences between journalism and public relations. We  looked at the differences in being a reporter and working in PR. After that, we read a handout on PR as a class and discussed its key points.

Things to remember:

What is PR?
- Public relations is all about information and image
- PR is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support, and influencing opinion and behavior. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain good will and mutual understanding between a business and its public.
- Make sure the headline in a press release contains an active verb!
- "If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying Circus Coming Saturday, that's advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that's promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor's flower bed, that's publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that's public relations."

Key points for Journalism v. PR:

- Because journalists serve the general public, they structure their news stories to be as fair and complete as possible
- PR specialists serve organizations so their messages are structured to be as beneficial to their clients as possible
- The ultimate goal for a journalist is to inform the public
- The ultimate goal in PR is to generate good will toward the client
- journalists control all the information that goes into their stories
- PR practitioners provide info to journalists but can't control how they use it

After this discussion, we practiced writing a press release where we had to announce the decision of the cosmetic company, Glamour, Inc. to build a lipstick plant in Clarksville, Tenn. that would provide jobs in the community.

After our break, we met Dan Kolko, our guest speaker. Dan Kolko is a sports reporter for the Washington Nationals. He shared with us his experiences with the players both on and off the field and re-emphasized the importance of being able to write and communicate well.

-  Always keep in mind the 5 W's (Who, What, When, Where, Why)
- Ask probing questions
- Stay away from asking more than one question at the same time because it gives whoever is answering an opportunity to dodge the question
- Building relationships is key
- Do your research and stay informed. This will allow you to ask probing questions and to feel prepared during an interview
- Think before you tweet!

HW for 3/1:
- Watch 3 stories by NBC4's David Culver and have two questions prepared
- Write an opinion piece assessing whether Sean Spicer is doing a good job as president Trump's press secretary (350 words maximum, bring a hard copy to class, and be ready to read them aloud). You will be graded on clarity of message, conciseness, and grammar. Don't waste space with a lot of background material.
- Do the worksheet on wordiness

Have Fun!

Posted by: Natalie Ravis

Thursday, February 16, 2017

2/15 Class

We began class by swapping our AP take home quizzes with a partner and grading each other's sentences. After that, we continued our classroom discussion on anxiety and how to relieve stress.

Strategies we discussed included...
- Positive visualization
- Rehearsing what you will say
- And the importance of being prepared

Following up the importance of being prepared, Professor Piacente showed the class two videos. The first one was a woman interviewing John Cusack who thought he was in the movie American Beauty. The second video was a high school student interviewing his state senator. In this video, the student grilled his senator on an education bill and why he voted the way he did. Not being able to take the heat, the senator got up and left the interview. These two videos exemplify the importance of being prepared regardless of the situation.

After this, we were put to work and given a story to write about two psychiatric patients that initiated a fight over a Pictionary game. After a said amount of time, Professor Piacente told us to stop writing and gave us new information to add to the story. He also explained the importance of always making sure that your story uses the most up to date information.

After our break, we met Christa Davis, our public speaker for the night and introduced ourselves with our fun facts. Christa is a development concern officer for Project Concern International (PCI) and mainly focuses on Women Empowerment. After answering many of our questions, Christa also engaged with us about the importance of strong communication skills and personal branding.

Among all the great advice and stories she shared with us, the most important takeaways are...
- Your writing is usually your first impression
- Strong communications are helpful in all careers
- Know the importance of getting to the point
- Take public speaking classes if possible
And the most important concept to remember,

Homework for next Wednesday as on the Syllabus...

- Pictionary Stabbing Story (with new lead and information) due by Friday at 5 pm
- Read Chapters 11-12 in textbook
- Read Writing to be Heard (pages 214-216)
- Read Characteristics of Writing  (pages 233-235)
- Do radio story (page 243) "Historic Document"
- Read broadcast chapter and list top three takeaways

Good Luck!

Friday, February 10, 2017


We started the beginning of class by getting to know Craig Cannon, a graduate student in SOC studying Broadcast Journalism who works as a writing coach for SOC. He introduced himself and answered questions about writing news stories.

Then we learned about public speaking and in general, the way in which we conduct ourselves. We started off with a quote from Mark Twain, “There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.” For public speaking, at any level or capacity, it is important to:

            - Be prepared, so you will be more confident and sure of what you are saying.

- Repeating what you are going to say and how you are going to say it

- It is important to take deep breaths and imagine that your stomach is a closed fist when you breathe in and as you breathe out it is a circle of light. This will slow down your heart rate and make you feel more relaxed.

- It is also important to visualize what you will look like and act like while you are speaking. See yourself succeeding rather than messing up!

-               Lastly, the communication pyramid breaks down the importance of word choice (7%), voice tone (38%) and body language (55%) when speaking. These should be in alignment to ensure your words are heard clearly.  

We then learned about personal brands which is composed of our character, our values, the work that we do and who we associate ourselves with. We filled out a worksheet where we answered questions about ourselves, our brands and if we do we have a brand (because we do!) The takeaway: take charge of your personal brand!

We reviewed common grammar mistakes such as misplacing commas and using commas with quotes.

HW for 2/15
            -Complete AP quiz given out in class
            -Read Chapter 15 on Public Relations

-Go to Project Concern International (PCI) and read two to three articles by development officer Christa Davis and prepare three questions to ask when she comes to speak to our class next week.