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%
This includes 2 ‘rolling news’ days each week. We are split into teams of 6 and integrated with students on the MA Multimedia Broadcast Journalism (who focus on national and local news) and each week we cover a different platform: online, TV, radio, reporting.
Week one: Online
We wrote articles and produced audio and video for the UCF Journo news website. You can read my articles here: Harlequin ladybird invasion, Argentina to complain to UN re Falklands ‘militarisation’, Cornwall council solicitor begins Falklands job swap
I did not find this too stressful or difficult as I have used content management systems quite a lot in my various jobs and also am used to blogging and loading up a variety of content online.
The difficult part was learning the style and writing news stories for web which has a formula to it. This now makes much more sense to me having started the print module. I don’t think I ever really appreciated before that journalism writing is very different to academic and just creative writing in general. It is a new style to learn with its own rules and formula, and most importantly it relies on being able to write clearly and under pressure AS WELL as in an engaging, balanced way! – piece of cake?!
Week two: TV
This involved producing stories (pictures and scripts) for 5 minute bulletins at 11am, 12pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm both days. It was quite pressured on day one as it was new to us all! However, by day two we were in the flow.
The editor had a fairly stressful job pulling everything together and ensuring the timings were right for the whole bulletin.
It’s the first time that we’ve used the small green screen studio and operated our own auto-cue but it was really fun. I presented two of the updates and felt much more comfortable with this type of presenting than just sitting behind the news desk ‘anchor’ style! I also really felt that the voice coaching I had at Heart FM was really useful and has definitely improved my style so far. I think it still needs work though!
I can’t load the full bulletin’s up online as we use Reuters news agency footage for many of the stories, however, clips of me presenting will be coming soon…!
Week three: Reporting
As part of the ‘roving reporter’s’ team, we were expected to go out and gather content for all platforms to use. This sounds quite exciting, however in reality with only 2 car drivers in a team of 6 it was slightly challenging to get out and gather content quickly!
On day one I used an existing contact to get an interview about the LGBT adoption and fostering week which is the first one to run. I edited the interview and gave it to the online team, who produced a short piece for web, and gave shorter clips to the radio team for use in their bulletins.
As one of the team who was in the newsroom I also took phone calls from our reporters who were out and about and recorded live voicers for them in the studio to give to the other teams.
Overall I enjoyed being on the reporting team but would have enjoyed getting out a bit more!
Week four: Radio
Being part of the radio team was less daunting as it’s not the first time we’ve done rolling news for radio. What I enjoyed the most was having half of the day to focus on producing bulletins and the other half to focus on presenting. I feel much more confident on both now as well as my ability to read the news to a precise duration. We produced 3,4 and 5 minute bulletins.
Most of our bulletins are comprised of straight-reads, voicers and clips from IRN. However, we try to get our own audio when possible and this week I was able to get an interview with the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions in relation to the news about the Eden Project financial losses and job cut announcements.
Week five: Online
Having now rotated across all four platforms we were back on online this week. We only had one day this week instead of the usual two, as we had a documentary workshop from One World Media on the other day.
I was quite proud of my achievements this week as I managed to write two articles for UCF Journo in half a day, which for the first time were barely sub-edited by our tutor! (the second half of the day I was filming for an external project for PCDT).
In addition I managed to film and edit some video interviews to accompany another article on the site with Emma Fry. We were really pleased with the interviews from the World Pasty Competition which was held at the Eden Project.
To read my two articles click on the following links:
Week six: Reporting
This week I also had just one day as the second day I was again filming for my PCDT film project. I hope I made up for my absence though by preparing four OOVs for TV.
For reporting I was editor which was quite manic but overall enjoyable. Mainly I think because it plays to my strengths as I am very organised and used to project managing from my jobs prior to joining the course. I find it quite satisfying to coordinate people and ideas! : ) It paid off too as the other teams were happy with the content and support we offered to the other teams.
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!! : )
- Monitoring – this is a daily task which involves listening to radio bulletin’s from other radio stations in the area, newspapers and then a summary of the main local and national stories for the day
- Practice reading bulletins in the studio followed by voice coaching
- Out in Norwich doing vox pops on trains (in preparation for Sunday’s change in network owner for East Anglia)
- Edited an audio interview on Suffolk County Council’s new website to go online
- Article written for the website on the rise in water bills
- Vox pops out in Norwich – in search for a case study to run with the water news story
- Editing of the vox and case study for broadcast
- Trip over to Norfolk Constabulary headquarters for a press briefing and interview for broadcast
- Radio bulletin copy writing and feedback
- Article written for the website
- Audio interview edited for website
- Vox pop’s edited for broadcast
- Out to WeatherQuest at UEA for interview on weather conditions – and edited audio for broadcast
- Studio time – practicing presenting and more voice coaching
- Sat in on this quarter’s RAJAR results presentation
- Article written for the website on unpaid taxes in Norfolk and Suffolk
- Scripts written to go with train vox pops ready for broadcast
- Studio time – practicing presenting
- Vox pop’s edited for broadcast
I’ve had a great week with the news team for Norfolk and Suffolk. It’s a really friendly environment with proactive staff who were really willing to give me work, offer constructive feedback and provide opportunities to try out a variety of things.
It was good for me to be there for the RAJAR results, it gave me an insight into the radio industry as a whole as well as to the Global group, that Heart is a part of.
It was great fun to practice in the studio and really helpful to have tips on presenting style and being flexible with your voice. It’s an area I still need to work on but now I have some practical tips to work on!
Another useful exercise was going out and seeing how the journalists interviewed people – as well as putting my media law into practice!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
I made my package interesting by spreading out the interviews and using clips from each person, rather than returning to one person twice.
So…my radio package is finished and uploaded! Hooorayyyy!!! : )
Now for the tricky bit…evaluating! I’m happy with my final piece, especially for finding a new angle on the story. I haven’t heard anything on the radio on my story this week to make a direct comparison to, but I believe the piece fits the style used on BBC World Service, and Radio 4.
I’m going to break it down by going back over the initial brief and marking criteria.
- I produced a radio package that was the correct duration – 2’30
- I included clips from at least two interviews that I researched, recorded and edited myself. In fact I included 4 clips from 4 separate interviews.
- At least one of my interviews was conducted face to face – James Bolt, from the Sedgemoor Centre, St Austell
- The other three interviews were all overseas and relevant to the story (World Health Organisation, UN Foundation (also a lead player for the Measles Initative) and the French public health network – Institut de veille sanitaire
- I wrote a studio cue with technical instructions and sent an mp3 file of the package
- I had a standard out cue at the end of the package
- I considered sound effects/wildtrack but decided it was not appropriate or necessary for the story
To read evaluation on the assessment criteria click on the following links: