Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Class Discussion & Blog Post: Ethics of Banning Books
It’s important to realize that religious books and references are sometimes challenged as well. The Bible is a commonly challenged book, for example, because of content that some people find hateful and violent toward other groups such as LGBT people.
The sides of the debate are typically either:
Pro-censorship: Protect children, protect integrity of character
Anti-censorship: Protect free speech, do not shelter children from reality
Let’s talk about what these arguments mean.
Have your parents tried to prohibit you from reading a particular book?
Have you experienced any book challenges at school?
What side do you fall on? Why?
Who has impacted your thoughts on this topic?
If you are more anti-censorship, then what limits, if any, should be in place at public schools and libraries?
If you are more pro-censorship, then what would it take for you to support a book ban at a public school or library?
Case Study: And Tango Makes Three
Now let’s explore a case study of book banning. We’ll watch the clip together and then you’ll write a post that answers the questions below.
The local public library has banned the children’s book And Tango Makes Three. The book is based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male Chinstrap Penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo. The book follows the six years of their life where they formed a couple and were given an egg to raise.
Pick Out A Book At My Office!
Let’s walk over to my office in Ross Hall 435 and I’ll let you take a book home with you. While students are visiting my office in groups of 2-3, other students will be in Ross Hall 423 computer lab writing their blog posts on the questions below:
Blog Post: Book Banning
Briefly summarize the book and its content
Discuss both the pro-censorship and anti-censorship viewpoints.
Was the ban at the local public library unwarranted? Or, was the ban appropriate? Use the First Amendment to defend your opinions. That is, even if you want to ban the book, explain how the First Amendment protects this decision. If you want to allow the book, explain how the First Amendment protects this decision.
Do you have any personal experiences with your own school or parents banning books?
How many books on the Top 10 Commonly Challenged Books Lists have you read? Which books have you read?
What is your general opinion about book banning?
Can organizations, schools, and families really “ban books” in our time of the internet and social media?
Important note: There are no right or wrong answers to the blog post questions and discussion. In fact, more diversity in the class’s opinions is actually helpful. We get to learn more when people share their unique and genuine opinions.
Let’s write a blog post about these questions and discuss them as a class. Please answer:
How does your own online behavior compare to the data that we just examined?
How many limits do your parents put on your online identity and internet time?
How do you think your online identity should look for college? For when you want to get a job?
What privacy concerns exist for you and potential college admissions officers and employers?
Is it right for a college or employer to reject/fire you based on your online identity?
— My Thoughts —
Be proud of whatever you write on your blog and whatever you share online. You do not want to regret something in the future. Remember, if it’s posted online, it’s there F O R E V E R!
The ability to tell a good story with video is a difficult yet important skill for journalists and communicators to learn. Video is not just on TV anymore — you can find video stories online and on mobile devices as well. You’ll work in teams of two for this project. Let’s partner up and review the instructions for Blog Post 10 – Video Storytelling.
Choose a story (or event!) that is well suited for video. This includes stories that have strong visual components and that have any sort of motion.
Identify your sources. Seek out multiple and diverse perspectives for your story.
Write preliminary interview questions after researching the story. Plan out your questions, story focus, and narrative (i.e., beginning, middle, and end) in advance, as much as you can. However, also remember to be adaptable during the interview and ask appropriate follow-up questions.
“Show me, don’t tell me” is the mantra in video storytelling. Find a way to show a story unfolding with video. Minimize the on-camera interviews with people (i.e., “talking head interviews”). It’s more interesting to watch an event occur rather than here about it from an interviewee.
Plan to shoot a variety of angles and types of shots. For suggestions, see Production, below.
Consider how you (the reporter) will fit into the story. Will you appear on-camera to set the scene or conduct an interview? If you’d like to try that, go ahead! Or, will you be completely invisible to the audience, just like you were during the Soundslides project and the audio profile project? Or, will you narrate the story without appearing on-camera?
2. Production (When You’re On-Location)
Plan on shooting before and after the event (if shooting an event). This ensures you have a variety of material to create your edited story from. Also, it helps develop a narrative of before, during, and after the event.
Shoot B-roll. B-roll is supplemental footage that relates to your story. For example, a video story about the the UW track team’s meet should include video of athletes warming up, tying their shoelaces, talking with coaches, etc. These are the shots that you can use to fill time while an interviewee is talking or while ambient noise (e.g., background noise from the event or music) is playing. For a 2-minute story, shoot at least 30 seconds of B-roll footage.
Shoot on-camera interviews with your sources. When shooting interviews, remember to look around at your surroundings. Is it relevant to the story? Can you move somewhere else to get the interview that is not as chaotic or loud? Just as with the audio interviews, encourage your sources to relax, act natural, and provide context to the answer they are giving to your question. Don’t be afraid to re-shoot a question and ask a question again. Oftentimes, the source gives a better and more eloquent answer to your question the second time you ask it.
Optional: Shoot on-camera reporters. If you’d like to appear on-camera as a broadcaster at some point, then this project is a good opportunity to practice. You can introduce the story and provide context to the significance of the story. You can transition with your voice and appearance between story segments. And you can conclude the story and provide a summary or “what happens next” statement.
Shoot a variety of camera shots. Whether you plan to be a visual journalist or not, you need to understand and learn how to execute the types of shots. See this website for visual examples and descriptions as we go over the definitions below.
Extreme wide shots. Shows the whole entire scene of an event, location, or story. These shots give viewers information about where the story takes place. They set the scene and give context early on in a story.
Very wide shots. Shows less background and shows the subject in the large scene. The subject is barely visible.
Wide shots. Shows the whole subject so the visual emphasis is on the subject rather than the background.
Mid shots. Shows the subject even closer, but a bit of the scene is still visible in the frame.
Medium close-up shots. Shows the subject even closer and the subject’s features and expressions are more of the focus.
Close-up shots. Shows the subject’s head to shoulder area.
Extreme close-up shots. Shows only the subject in the frame, such as the subject’s eyes and nose.
Cut-in shots. Shows some other part of the main subject, not the face and shoulders.
Cutaway shots. B-roll that is used as transitions between shots or to add information not offered by shots of the main subject or scene.
Point-of-view shots. Shows a scene from the subject’s perspective such that you feel like you are in their shoes.
Optional: Camera movement techniques. Camera movements are more advanced production techniques. They may not work out well if you do not have a high-quality video camera. Thus, I would avoid these techniques unless you have prior experience with video or unless you have a high-quality video camera. If you decide to use camera movements, see the techniques below:
Zooming: Going from wide-angle to close-up or vice versa.
Panning: Moving the camera horizontally.
Tilts: Moving the camera vertically.
Tracking: Moving the camera around accordingly to track the subject.
Composition concerns: Give headroom so the interviewee has space above their head during the shot. Avoid distractions in the background of shots. Remember the rule of thirds still!
Be Flexible: No matter home much planning you do in pre-production, from deciding who you want to interview to what types of b-roll shots you want, something is bound to not go your way, or the event you’re at will be different than you envisioned. Be willing to change you plan during production based on what is happening at the event in real time.
3. Post-Production (The Editing Process)
Editing programs. You have access to Adobe Premiere Elements in this lab, CR 207, as well as Ross Hall 423 (next to my office), AS 228, and the IT building computer lab. However, you are free to use another editing program, such as iMovie, FinalCutPro, or Windows Movie Maker. Adobe Premiere and FinalCutPro are the industry standards for video editing. iMovie is pretty good for being a standard software on a MacBook. Windows Movie Maker is pretty awful and I don’t recommend it unless you have no other options. Also, consider downloading a trial version of Adobe Premiere. The IT building has a beautiful Mac computer in the scantron room that has FinalCutPro on it.
Conceptual Editing.You want to brainstorm and plan out your story before you begin with technical editing. You want to have the story flow ironed out first. If you’re stuck, think about how you’d tell a friend your story. What did you start with? What else did you tell your friend? How does the story end? Also, search for sound bites that address the who, what, where, when, why, how, and so what.
The video editing process is similar to the audio editing process. Remember the tips associated with audio editing.
Keep your story focused — it’s supposed to be about 2-4 minutes.
Below are the main points you need to consider while working on your project. I will use these elements to evaluate your work.
At least 2 sources
At least 5 seconds of ambient noise, natural sound, or music
Video is between 2 and 4 minutes
Video shots are diverse (see camera shots and camera movements above)
Speakers are introduced with titles and/or the speaker self-identifies themselves and/or the reporter identifies the speaker
Story has a beginning, middle, and end (narrative arc)
Editing is smooth
Video Storytelling for Public Relations, Promotions, and Marketing
Video can be used for a variety of different reasons including journalism, PR, marketing, and advertising, and the way that you edit and shoot a video is a little bit different for each one. In each case you want to be able to tell a complete story.
Journalism: Tell the whole story from all sides. Find opposing arguments for interviews so that viewers can get facts from both sides or multiple sources with different things to say. Add b-roll that is relevant to the story even if it is not the most artsy shot it might be the most informative.
Public Relations: In this case you will probably only be telling the story from one side, the side that the company, department, etc. is on, and you video will likely be positive, factual information about the company, etc. the b-roll shots in this type of video should highlight those positive things that the interviewee is talking about. Example
Promotions: These videos are a lot like advertisements. To make an exciting promotional video, you want eye catching shots, that include whatever it is that you’re promoting. A lot of the time these are artistic shots, or fast pace shots that keep the viewer engaged, and interested. Example
Video Storytelling Examples From Past Classes
Example of Promotional Story on a Local Company – Louisa Wilkinson and Taylor Dilts
Example of Journalistic Story on a Non-Event – Hannah Robinson and Esther Seville
Example of a Promotional Story on a Local Band – Kaisha McCutchen and Bianca Coca
Example of Journalistic Approach with No Reporter Narration – Edward Timmons and Miranda Anderson
Example of Journalistic Approach With Reporter Narrative – Jordan Blazovich and Nick Robinson
Example of Journalistic Approach to an Event Story without Reporter Narration – Kaitlyn Camargo and Lauren Garrelts
Example of Journalistic Approach to a Non-event Story without Reporter Narration – Brittany Hamilton and Scottie Melton
Gathering audio that is clean, clear, and crisp is no easy task. This post outlines some hints for you to consider before you conduct audio interviews. It is developed from the hints listed on MediaStorm’s audio training page.
Know Your Equipment: Be comfortable operating your audio recorder. You should know where the buttons are without looking at it. You should know what all of the buttons do. If you’re uncomfortable with the audio recorder, your subject will be as well.
So, practice with your audio recorder, even if it’s just your phone, BEFORE your interview.
Also, be sure that you can confidently get the audio file from your phone to a computer and opened in Audacity. Practice now.
Location: Find a quiet location with little background noise. Find a spot with soft surfaces that absorb sound. A couch or fabric chair is better than a wooden chair. Cover a table with a blanket. A car with closed windows is a great location. Avoid hallways and large rooms that echo.
No Ambient Noise During Interview: While you do want to use ambient noise in your audio story, you don’t want the ambient noise to interfere with the person speaking to you. Avoid consistent background noise by picking a small quiet room with carpet and soft chairs. If using the TASCAM, try using the foam covering to see if it helps quiet ambient noise. You want to collect ambient noise separately and not fight it during the interview.
If Ambient Noise is Unavoidable: Press the record button before you begin the formal interview. Allow the recorder to collect the ambient noise without anyone’s voices interrupting the ambient noise. This gives you clean ambient noise to insert into any pauses during the editing process.
Get Close: Put the microphone about 2 inches away from the person’s mouth if you’re recording at a moderate “rec level” (about 5-7 on the TASCAM). You can put the microphone farther away if you’re recording at a higher “rec level” (about 9-10).
Remember though — when editing, it’s easier to bump up the volume than bump down the volume. Thus, err on the side of caution and do not record at a level that is TOO LOUD.
Use Headphones: Put your headphones into the headphone jack on your digital audio recorder. Hit the “record” button. Now ask the person to talk. Ensure that you can hear the person clearly. If you can’t hear them clearly, put the microphone closer to their mouth and/or increase the “rec level” to a higher sensitivity. Keep the headphones on your ears during the whole interview. You’ll know exactly how the person sounds the whole time.
Speak Up: Ask the person to speak up and speak louder if you can’t hear them properly and clearly when you have your headphones on.
Don’t Fidget: Do not fidget and play with the audio recorder while gathering sound. The audio recorder picks up the noise when you rub your hands on it. Avoid this by not fidgeting.
Focus: There’s many things to think about while conducting an audio interview. Can you hear them clearly? What are they saying? What’s my next question? Where is the interview going? How can I take the interview in a different direction or somewhere I hadn’t planned if they say something interesting?
If you don’t get the 5-minute interview right the first time, do it again!
But Also Engage: Listen to the person. Make eye contact (don’t look at their mouth). Seem genuinely interested in their story. After they’re done speaking, stay in silence for a moment. They may add more detail to their thoughts.
Uh huh: Don’t do it. Avoid saying those filler words during an interview. You don’t want YOUR voice recorded when the person is talking. Instead, nod, smile, use eye contact, and lean forward to encourage the person.
Avoid Comment. Resist the urge provide in-depth responses or comments to your interviewee during and after everything he/she says–that means more editing for yourself or not being able to use the audio at all.
Pause. During the audio interview, leave a brief pause after the interviewee finishes answering a question and before you begin your next question. Giving more pause will leave you more room for editing.
Ask Explanation-Needed Questions: Don’t just ask, “How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a journalist?” You’ll get the answer, “I few years ago.” Ask questions that need more explanation, “What inspired you to become a journalist and when did you make this decision in your life?”
You want the person to answer in complete sentences that clearly answer the question, not short phrases that may need a narrator’s explanation.
Ask Again: Don’t be afraid to ask “Why?;” “Please explain that more in-depth.” “Please say that again, I didn’t quite understand the first time.”
Ask Sensory Questions: “Tell me about…”; “What did it sound like when…”; “How did it feel when…”; “What did it smell like…”; “What did it look like when…”; “Describe the scene for me.”
Last Question: Always ask, “Is there anything else I should have asked? Is there anything else you want me to know?”
Audio Editing Tips
Consider these audio editing suggestions.
Decide how you want to organize your story before you begin editing; know what the beginning, middle, and end should be before you begin editing.
The end should bring closure and finality to the interview topic. Don’t end with a statement that leads to more questions from the listener.
Use the zoom feature extensively during your editing, it really helps get the cut to be as flawless as possible.
There are two ways to edit audio: Build or destroy. To build while editing, take a blank audio track and then create an interview from the original. To destroy while editing, take the original interview and cut it down.
While editing, write down the points in the track that you’re working on. That way when you go back and listen to it, you can listen for the cut/transition and move things around faster by referencing those breaks in your notes.
Always save the original audio file separate from the file that you’re currently editing. Also consider saving “editions” of your audio file such that each audio editing session that you engage in is a unique file. That way, if you make a grievous error, then you can revert to the next most saved/updated/edited file.
In our unit on audio, you will use Soundcloud to share your audio files on your blog. Let’s register.
There is no better way to learn audio reporting than by trying it out for yourself! So, let’s try to record ourselves on our phones or devices. Let’s get it off our phone and on the computer. Can you open it in Audacity? Or, do you need to convert the file? Google your questions about your specific phone or device.
Journalism oftentimes gives a voice to the voiceless. With audio journalism, you can hear the emotion, hear the ambient sounds, and hear the expressions of your sources. Now, we can do audio journalism online and not just on the radio. Before we learn about the logistics of audio, it is important to first understand what makes excellent audio journalism. Here are some examples.
One in 8 Million – A New York Times audio slideshow about a few of the 8 million people living in the New York City region. Let’s listen to one teenager mother’s story. Let’s listen to the audio profile and discuss what you like and dislike about the story. Could this story be told better with any other style or method? Note that for the upcoming two assignments, you will interview a classmate (or someone else) for 5 minutes and then edit the audio to 2 minutes.
NPR provides the best audio journalism in the United States. Here’s an example of their reporting. Notice the journalist’s narration, the sources’ quotes, and the audio of specific examples relevant to the story. First though, let’s read the print story. Then, we’ll listen to the audio story. We’ll compare the stories and discuss the differences as well as the similarities.
This American Life provides great long-format audio stories, usually about feature stories.
In our unit on audio, you will use Soundcloud to share your audio files on your blog. Let’s register and do a tutorial.
Practice Audio Recording with Your Device
Let’s practice audio recording and getting the audio files off our devices and onto the computer. The biggest complaint that students have about the audio unit is having trouble getting the audio off their device and onto the computer in a workable file format. So, please do that now.
Record yourself counting to 10 with your device. Next, get the recording off your device and onto the computer. Attempt to open the file in Audacity. Then, attempt to upload a file to Soundcloud.
The following information is adapted from Ch. 5 and Ch. 6 in the textbook.
What Should I Do When I Interview Someone?
First, realize that your interviews are essential to the story. Without strong interviews, you got nothing!
Be prepared: Inform yourself about the topic, source, and/or interviewee. Do some background research on the story and educate yourself. Informed questions are the best questions.
Practice your interview questions beforehand if you’re nervous or want to feel better-prepared going into the interview. It never hurts to practice. And practice being curious-sounding, professional, and clam rather than accusatory, aggressive, or a know-it-all.
Make small talk before the interview.It relaxes you and the interviewee. And begin the interview with a softball question that you may not care too much about. This will relax the interviewee and yourself.
Keep it conversational. Don’t ask one question after another with no casual feedback and discussion. You want to have a give-and-take, turn-taking conversation, rather than a firing-squad style conversation.
Listen. Really listen to your interviewee talking as you take notes. Think about if you have any follow-up questions about their statements. If you don’t, then move on to the next prepared question.
Prepare a basic outline of questions, but avoid reading them word-for-word. Again, you want to know your questions enough to ask them in a casual way to your interviewee. And you want to ask them when it’s appropriate to in the conversation.
Don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions. You want to understand the interviewee and the story well. You want to clarify things so you can clearly explain things to your audience.
Ask the “do you have anything else to add before we finish” question. You never know what helpful information will come out!
Allow silence. Silence is awkward.People fill silence with additional banter. It may be helpful banter for your story.
Make eye contact, smile, and nod to show your interest. Try not to make the “uh huh” and “go on” noises. This is a bad habit and will ruin audio interviews if you engage in those behaviors.
Also during the interview…Watch, look, and listen to the environment around you –> Reporters and storytellers are excellent observers and listeners. They are socially aware.
Any other suggestions from you and your classmates?
What Tips Do You Have For Writing A Story?
Write for the specific story angle, not the general story topic.
Make it clear why the audience should care early in the story.
Write a strong leadto pull readers in. Then expand on the lead in the rest of the story.
Set the scene early in the story. Use anecdotes (short stories from your sources).
In the middle, thoroughly explain the issues.Keep emphasizing the importance, so what, and impact of the story.
Stick to factsas much as possible. If opinion is in your story, it should be your sources’ opinions, not your’s.
Write with active, descriptive verbs whenever possible. Good example: Dr. Landreville teaches tomorrow. Bad example: Dr. Landreville is going to teach tomorrow.
Save the most interesting and descriptive quotes for direct quotes in your story. Direct quotes that merely state simple facts, that are poorly worded, or that are boring are not helpful. Paraphrase that information.
Let the subjects speak.We want to hear what the sources, not the reporter, have to say about this story. Facilitate this connection between the subjects and the audience by using a lot of quotes and descriptions (or if a visual presentation, showing the subjects).
Transition well.Avoid jumping around. Avoid incomplete thoughts and unclear associations of story elements.
Proofread! Be your own editor. Cut unnecessary words. Use the active voice. Clean up comma errors. Correct misspellings. Keep an eye out for grammar errors (e.g., its/it’s).
Close the story with a resolution by saying what’s next or summarizing the outcome or providing an interesting or strong quote.
OK, OK, you now have those tips drilled into your head. What’s next to know about writing for multiple platforms? Well, it’s important to understand reading trends.
What kind of readers are out there?
There are three types of readers. You need to write for all three in a story.
Comprehensive readers (read the whole story)
Samplers (read the lead and parts of a story before quickly moving on)
Scanners (read headlines, labels, captions, fact boxes, graphics, and other quick reads)
How should I write for all three types of online readers?
Online reading is 25% slowerthan print reading.
We scanmore online.
We construct our own nonlinearreading experience online.
Thus, you need to use concise, informative headlines, summaries, and hyperlinks to more resources about the story.
Each paragraph should have no more than 2 or 3 short, simple sentences.
A direct quote should stand out in its own paragraph. Do not bury direct quotes in the middle of a paragraph!
Attribution side note. Good Example: “Attribute correctly,” said Dr. Landreville. Bad example: Dr. Landreville said, “Attribute correctly.”
Use subheadings in your story –> Otherwise known as “chunk” titles.
Bold the chunk titles.
Checklist for Blog Post 3
Keep your mind on these requirements and best practices while reporting and writing:
Number of Interviews (3 minimum, face-to-face, unless otherwise given permission)
Minimum of two relevant photos (if not your photography, then attribute to the photographer)
Two relevant links (at minimum)
Reporter presence and voice.
Use of bolded chunk titles.
Transitions between ideas.
Minimum of 750 words
Attribution and Quotes
Paraphrased information vs. directly quoted information.
Location of direct quotes (should be at the beginning of paragraphs)
Frequency of direct quotes (every few paragraphs)
The Next Two Classes…
We will be writing our stories and peer editing our stories. Ideally, you would use Wednesday’s class for finishing writing your story, with having questions prepared for me and Cassie. You shouldn’t be just starting to write your story on Wednesday. Make the most of your time with these in-class workdays and be prepared on Wednesday.
Have a completed draft ready for FRIDAY’S class. We will be peer editing each other’s work.
As always, ask questions if you have anything that you’re confused about or not sure what to do. Best of luck!
This summer, former Outside magazine editor Abe Streep is offering a four-week workshop on the ins and outs of environmental journalism and science writing. During the course, students will find, pitch, report and write a piece of narrative environmental journalism. Daily assignments will include readings and critiques of students’ work, and guest speakers will include editors at national magazines. This summer course will meet May 26 – June 19, Monday through Thursday, from 9:10 – 11:35 am.
Interested students should submit an application consisting of two paragraph-long synopses of environmental stories they think they might like to cover, as well as a brief description of an environmental book or story they’ve found influential. Applications should be submitted by March 1. Click here for details.
Summer Journalism at NYU provides both for an experience you won’t forget. We have a variety of classes for pre-college and college students, and one graduate multimedia production course.
This summer we’ve added three new courses to our already diverse line-up–Sports!, The Profilers, and a classic from our regular academic year, The Beat, with a long-time favorite professor, Frank Flaherty, which runs as a special 9-week course. First session courses start May 26 and second session courses run from July 7 to August 13.
Visit our website for a list of all the courses offered and to find out more about the program. Still have questions? Check out our FAQs, contact us at email@example.com, or connect with us on Facebook! Like our page to interact with current and prospective students, ask questions, and to keep up with the latest news about Summer Journalism.