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Professional Practice Assessments

Assessment time has crept up very quickly this term!  The Professional Practice module has comprised a number of subjects:

The assessments have been set to reflect this range of subjects and aside from our final documentary pitch, final piece and written contextual analysis they form the last set of assessments on the MA!  Eeeek!

So here is the brief:

Practical portfolio (80%)

  • A radio news bulletin (produced, edited, scripted and presented live) – 20%
  • A television news bulletin (produced, edited, scripted and presented live) – 20%
  • An online news story (written and uploaded to UCFJourno) – 10%
  • Print Assessment – 25% – this consists of two exams on news writing and sub-editing and one 1,200 word international news feature
  • A 4 1/2 minute political radio package based on one of the following topics – 25%

1. Political Restraints versus Press Freedom
2. The Role of Worldwide Governmental Bodies
3. The Role of Non Governmental Organisations
4. Religious Tolerance and Intolerance

Personal blog (20%)

A series of blog posts that reflect on and critically evaluate the radio package production process – 100%


Professional Techniques marks

We have received our marks for the last assessments now and moved on to start new modules.  I was really pleased with my marks and for those of you who read about my experiences you will feel my happiness too!  I worked hard on them, especially radio as it took a while sourcing interviews for me this time!

My marks reflect my interests which is nice.  I gained my highest mark for my TV piece which got a 78!  I am SO pleased with this and was a little shocked to be honest!  Great to have positive feedback on all elements of my filming, scripting, story choice and editing. : )

Then my blog got 73 which again I was very happy with.  I don’t really find blogging that difficult…I just say what I’m thinking most of the time…which is usually a lot!  That approach seems to work though…my tutor liked the detail and ‘chunking’ of my content.  It also paid off to evaluate my piece by using the marking criteria.

Finally my radio piece, I was a little disappointed to see that my production marks were fairly low for this (in the 50s) but understand why.  Evidently it was not the best decision to cut out all pauses and breathes and made it sound very odd??!!  Incidentally no-one who listened to my work said this to me!  Oh well, luckily I gained high on ‘journalism skills’ for the piece as they liked my story and were impressed with the interviews I did get which was good.

Overall I came out with a mark of 71 for the module – a distinction!! : )

TV assessment criteria: Journalism skills

1. News judgement

The decision on the leap second occurred after I had chosen the story, so it dictated my top line – as it was the latest on the story.  This allowed for me to show the debate as well as some reaction to the postponement.

There was a great deal of coverage across all broadcasters and print/online, so it must have been newsworthy!  It was a quirky story, so a nice fun, interesting piece to cover.

2. Research

My blog shows the research I conducted to get to this point.  It can be hard to find international stories to cover in Cornwall, so I was pleased to find this one.

3. Target audience

The World Tonight audience (our weekly TV show) has been similar to the BBC World Service and I think I successfully met that with this story choice and treatment.  It was a story which involved nearly every country in the world and the consequences of the decision had a direct impact on all countries.

The way I scripted the beginning of the story was to try to relate it to people’s every day lives to draw them into the story.

I did film a vox pop whilst filming but decided later not to use it as I felt it didn’t flow in the overall story.  However, I took influence from what people told me when writing the script.

4. Balance / impartiality

When covering a story with two clear opposing sides it is easy to be balanced if you can gain comment from both sides and give them both a voice.  That is what I aimed to do here by using the UK and France as strong voices on either side of the issue.

5. Scripting

I had a clear structure in my head when writing this piece as I felt the story needed a simple introduction to allow people to relate to the story, then the need to explain the science, followed by presentation of the two sides of the debate.  I concluded by adding some reaction to the postponement and indicating the next steps in this story.


TV assessment criteria: Production skills

1. Planning

I practiced a time lapse before I went out filming to make sure I knew how to create one using the P2 cameras.  This involved testing the interval options.

I also enlisted some help with filming my piece to camera!

2. Filming

I went through the checklist for the camera on each shoot, making sure I white balanced in each location and re-focussed etc.  I put my new knowledge of producing time lapse into action, trying out a few to give me options in the edit suite.

I filmed sound with every shot to allow natural noise to be used in editing.

I also paid attention to the composition of my shots by trying to use different angles and distances.

I was happy with most of my shots, the only ones I wasn’t so pleased with were the computer shots and the map of France.  Ideally I would have taken more time to go to a different location where there was a nice wall map to film and different computers to those in the media centre!

3. Editing

I cut the clips I wanted from my interviews, scripted and then voiced the story.  After bringing the voiceover into AVID, I laid over appropriate images to match the words.  I made use of dissolves and used the audio mixer to even out levels throughout.

The background noise on my piece to camera unfortunately was too loud and a little difficult to cover in the edit process.  Next time, I would try to find a quieter spot (e.g. I could have asked to film inside the watch shop rather than outside).

4. Creativity

I think my use of time lapses, clock sounds and variety of shots made this a creative piece.  My directing motion graphics I was able to use pictures to help explain the science in the story.

Time TV package evaluation

My TV package is finished and uploaded and I’m overall quite happy with the piece.  Considering I managed to cover an international story by self-shooting all the footage in Cornwall, I am pleased with the results!

After planning my own package and shot types I watched a few produced by broadcasters, including Channel 4 and BBC, and was happy to see that they had used similar ideas to mine.  For example, the Channel 4 package employed time lapses, and both used graphics to help explain the leap second.

I was also happy with the interviews I managed to obtain for the story…after all, Brian at the Roseland Observatory was incredibly knowledgeable and was second best to visiting Grenwich!  And the phone interview with the BIPM was a crucial voice in the debate and one that had been mentioned in all reports I read/saw on the story.

I’m going to break my evaluation down by going back over the initial brief and marking criteria.

Package requirements

  • I produced a TV package that was the correct duration – between 1’30 and 2’30 with cue
  • I included at least one clip from an interview that I researched, filmed and edited myself. I also included a phone interview from overseas to give the story more strength by showing the other side of the debate.
  • I wrote a studio cue with technical instructions in the correct format (2 columns)
  • I had a standard out cue at the end of the package
  • I used footage filmed by myself
  • I loaded the final piece to vimeo and provided the link

To read evaluation on the assessment criteria click on the following links:

Radio assessment criteria: Journalism skills

1. News judgement

I’m hoping I will get some good marks here as initally when I chose this story and after my first interview I wrote the following cue:

Europe is facing a serious public health crisis, with an outbreak of the highly infectious, and vaccine preventable disease – measles.

 A new report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) says there were nearly 26,000 cases across Europe last year and with the high season for transmission of the disease approaching, numbers could increase unless effective control measures are put in place.

After conducting my second interview – that with Denise Antona at the French public health network, I decided to change my top line and angle for the story to focus on France rather than about the general situation across Europe and the surveillance system in place.  I thought this was much more newsworthy as I had found out something new directly from my interview – that the Institut de Veille Sanitaire, does not think that the Ministry of Health has responded appropriately or swiftly enough to deal with the problem in France.  In all of my research I have not found anyone else with this story or information so it’s ‘new’.  I also thought it was much more shocking than the general situation.

2. Research

I think you only need to read my previous blogs on the radio assessment to see how much research I’ve done!  I have consistently been looking for a story that grabs my attention, is newsworthy now, interesting, where I can find someone face to face to speak with and that I can actually get some people to agree to talk to me about!

3. Target audience

I have always had the BBC World Service target audience in mind when looking for stories and considering treatment of them.  For example, when I was trying to cover a story on immigration law in the EU potentially changing due to an Indian request I would have been reaching out to audiences across the world interested in employment/unemployment/migration/cultural issues…etc.

I also conducted a poll in order to find out what stories interested people more.

When changing to a health story I chose measles as I thought that public health scares always interest people and especially when it has implications for spreading across countries and quickly.

4. Balance / impartiality

I made a point of aiming high with my interviewee’s as I thought it important to gain information from experts.  Everything used in the package is factually true and substantiated.

In an ideal world I would have obtained an interview from the French Health Ministry, however due to the late stage in the day for my gaining the interviews and pulling together the package (Friday/Saturday before the Monday deadline!) I was unable to request this.  However – I did put a link to the French Ministry of Health website under related links to allow people visiting the blog to be able to find out what the French government is saying about the epidemic.  This could also be addressed by producing a second follow up package which would be broadcast later to ensure that over a period of time I was balanced and impartial on the topic.

5. Scripting

Once I had all four interviews the script flowed quite well as I was clear on my top line and there were some obvious clips from each interview which I thought would tell the story well, progress the story with relevant, useful information, and be interesting.

I started by stating the problem, backed up with numbers/statistics and by showing that it should be easy to avoid due to the vaccine.  Then I brought in the French angle and the clip chosen backed up my top line from the cue.  Next I related the situation to the rest of Europe by mentioning the 2015 target, and finally spoke of the specific group of people affected in France and what the government is doing to address it.

I am happy with my final script and was very grateful for the round of editor feedback in order to refine it.

Radio assessment criteria: Production skills

1. Planning

I ensured my M-audio was fully charged the night before my live interview. When planning my journey to the live interview I allowed sufficient time for finding the place and setting up.

When organising the phone interviews I took time differences into consideration as well as enlisted help from a French speaking friend in order to get through to the relevant person at the Institut de veille sanitaire. I also contacted many more people than I ended up interviewing in order to make sure I came out with some audio!

2. Recording

I tested the audio levels before all interviews began.  In addition I checked that the settings were correct in both the studio and on my M-Audio.  At the live interview I asked for the equipment in the room to be switched off as it was making a loud humming noise.

3. Editing

There was slight popping on one interview which I reduced in the editing stage.  I trimmed ‘ums’ and long silences to keep pace to the story and to meet the time requirement of the brief.

4. Creativity

I made my package interesting by spreading out the interviews and using clips from each person, rather than returning to one person twice.