Author archives

  • Real Time Social Media Coverage, Fake News, and Stockholm Radio: Updates from the New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism School

    Once again, news programs here in the United States are dominated by reports of a mass shooting. And, once again, news producers have to decide what to report, and how to report it…

    As current and former NYFA students have been taught, “the first report is always wrong.” In other words, initial reports are always fragmentary and usually contain a mix of fact, conjecture and misinformation. That means care must be taken in reporting, with accuracy taking precedence over speed. Now, there is a new complicating factor: As social media and cell phones become ubiquitous, it’s not unusual for “real time” information to emerge from crime scenes. Which is exactly what happened last week during the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Students, trapped in classrooms, sent out desperate text messages and videos.
    While certainly accurate in that they reflected students’ actual experiences and fears, how much of that information should be allowed on-air? Does information like this help clarify, or just sensationalize, a story? Might it actually aid an active shoot locate potential victims? There are no easy answers. But you can be sure these questions were hotly debated in newsrooms across the country. Journalism isn’t easy. If it was, anyone could do it…
    Another reality for contemporary journalists is the amount of blatantly false information that is readily available online. The box office success of the new Disney/Marvel superhero film Black Panther has led internet trolls to claim that at some screenings white moviegoers were beaten up by black audience members. (The reports, of course, are false.) They even included images of “victims.” But few journalists believed there stories, in part because they did Google Images searches of the pictures, and discovered where they had really originated. (One was a picture of the former wife of a recently resigned White House staffer, an apparent victim of domestic abuse.)
    It’s our job to always get information from multiple, verified sources, as well as use the power of social media to investigate what appears on social media.
    Swedish NYFA Broadcast Journalism graduate Emilie Olsson has added another job title to her already impressive resume — radio news anchor. Emilie is working in Stockholm, but as I only understand six words of Swedish I can’t tell you what she is actually reporting. One thing I can report is that radio studios sure look a lot nicer today, compared to the studios I worked in back in my radio days.
    Congratulations, again, Emilie!

    On a personal note, I’m happy to announce that my U.S./China coproduction Shanghai: 1937 will be competing in this year’s Shanghai International Film Festival. It’s a great honor to even be considered, and should help our marketing efforts both at SIFF as well as MIP-TV. The two events will be taking place within days of each other in April, one in China and the other in France.

  • New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism Alums at WTNH in New Haven, Channel 9 in Melbourne, & Agence France-Presse (AFP) in Rio de Janeiro

    Once again, I am returning to a subject I’ve discussed before — how “newspapers” are no longer just “newspapers.” Last week I visited Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts, and I spoke with several faculty members about the transformation of so-called “legacy media.” You can’t get more “legacy” than newspapers.

    Today The New York Times has far more digital subscribers than folks who buy the physical version of the publication. They often “break” stories in the evening, hours before their print edition “hits the street.” The Times has a TV studio set up right off of its newsroom, so that it can go “live” online whenever it makes sense. In fact, last time I visited, they had 75 video journalists. Video has become a central component of the Times ecosystem, with 20 channels and shows. As current and former students know, the Op-Docs channel is a continuing source of outstanding visual journalism.

    DMN posted a fascinating story last week about the Times use of AR (Augmented Reality), the cousin of VR (Virtual Reality). When combined with 360-degree video, it will (I am told) allow “viewers” to actually “walk into” a story.

    Of course, central to the use of AR and 360-video is developing a business model that will sustain them. Technology is great, but you simply can’t give your product away. Perhaps by combining these new technologies with more standard features, and a pay wall, the Times will do just that. We’ll see…

    A big “Thank You” to the folks at Endicott College for welcoming me, along with NYFA Photography Department Chair David Mager and Musical Theater Creative Director Kristy Cates, to their campus last week. We had an opportunity to meet with students considering a three-month “New York City internship,” as well as members of the faculty and administration. They even put our names on a poster!
    More good news via Facebook and email this week. First I heard from Alyssa Taglia, who is working at WTNH in New Haven, Connecticut:
    Hi Bill! Hope you’re well, I wanted to share with you that I was hired here at WTNH News 8 full time as their traffic anchor for Good Morning Connecticut 4:30-7 a.m, and as an MMJ. Early mornings (wake up at 2, or on snow days when we go on early I wake up at 1 a.m) aren’t always the easiest, but I truly truly truly love this business and this career I’m so thankful to have. It’s still amazing to me that just two weeks after graduating I landed a job here in my home state, which was always my goal! Thanks again for everything you and NYFA gave me!

    NYFA alum Alyssa Taglia at WTNH in New Haven, Connecticut.

    Then I found out Bryanna Reynolds is now working at Channel 9 in Melbourne, Australia. (That’s Bryanna on the far right in the picture below.) If there is one quality Bryanna has in abundance, it’s enthusiasm!

    Suzane de Oliveira works for Agence France-Presse (AFP) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Last week she re-posted her NYFA graduation picture, and I was deeply honored by her kind words. She wrote, in part:

    The moment so expected, dreamed and destined! NYFA! How many lessons I learned here in the most intense month of my life! … I’m very happy! Dream come true!

  • Daily Flash TV, Open Exchange, and TV Cultura With New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism Alumns

    Any of my current or former students will remember how much I emphasize “collaboration” when it comes to the field of broadcast journalism. Put simply, in our craft it is virtually impossible to do what we do alone. (At the very least, somebody has to help carry all of that equipment…)
    Good journalists don’t keep secrets from their coworkers. Instead, they discuss stories and leads with them. In the process, they often find out new, essential information or discover how story elements might be better communicated. posted a nice feature recently on how the editors at the 13 international editions of HuffPost (formerly the Huffington Post) collaborated on a story about air pollution. The project made clear the global dimensions of this problem, how in some places simply breathing the air is a health hazard, and the sad fact that low-income communities always seem to be at the greatest risk.
    It’s a thoughtful, important, and alarming series.
    Perhaps it is not coincidental, but as we shiver here in New York, I have more reports on what some of our graduates are doing in warmer places…
    Danielle Beckford posted some good news on Facebook over the weekend:

    “Got an amazing opportunity to do what I love to do, report on the top social media trending topics for the week on… Catch me on America’s favorite TV happy hour this Monday.”

    Daily Flash TV is one of those cross-platform news services, which appears on TV stations across the country, while also have a strong social media presence. Another fabulous job, Danielle!

    Far further south, where it is in fact summer, Vanessa Lorenzini is working as a multimedia reporter at TV Cultura in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Via LinkedIn she wrote:
    “Thanks to everything I learned at NYFA, now I can work all by myself. I record, interview, write the scripts and record the voiceovers. I am really happy.”
    That’s wonderful to hear, Vanessa. I still show students a story Vanessa did about how to keep your pet dog safe during cold New York City winters…
    And speaking about chilly New York, recent graduate and now former Teaching Assistant Hannah Palmhagen wrote me via good old-fashioned email about the job she has at a financial consulting company called Open Exchange.
    “I’ve been here at Open Exchange for two weeks now and it’s great, learning the process and understanding it better. I’m under contract as a Video Editor, although once settling in I will shoot the presentations and interviews with the bankers and investors that we work with as well.”
    Fact is, Hannah is so new on the job that she doesn’t have any work pictures yet. So here she is, back when she was a NYFA student, using one of Broadcast Journalism program’s Canon C300 cameras to shoot a story. Congratulations, Hannah!
  • Alumnae at Globo, AOL, and More: Broadcast Journalism School Jan. 29 Weekly Updates

    Those of you who have studied in the NYFA Broadcast Journalism program know we believe that journalism is different from most other professions. Journalists have special duties, special responsibilities.

    Last week, an Assistant Attorney General in the state of Michigan spoke of the role of journalists in society.

    “We as a society need investigative journalists more than ever,” Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis told the judge at the sentencing hearing of Larry Nassar, the long-time doctor for the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team.

    Nassar, 54, admitted sexually assaulting athletes under the guise of medical treatment when he was employed by Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced him Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison in a case involving seven victims, and he faces sentencing next week in a neighboring Michigan county where he abused girls at a gymnastics club. He already had been sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography.

    The case began with a 2016 Indianapolis Star investigation of how USA Gymnastics handled sexual abuse allegations against coaches. That prompted former gymnast Rachael Denhollander to alert the newspaper to Nassar’s abuse. “After that article, I knew this was the time,” Denhollander told The Associated Press. “This is always what I knew had to be done … (and) I was 100 percent confident there were other victims speaking up and being silenced.”

    This is why what we do is important.
    It also points to the crucial role played by the Associated Press. They took a story that was reported by a regional newspaper, and distributed it to newspapers, TV stations, TV networks, cable news outlets, online platforms and radio stations across the United States as well as around the world. News agencies like the AP began in the 19th century, yet they still remain relevant today.
    Last week I heard from one of our Brazilian graduates Laura Isern, who sent me an email, with an update on her career. Here is what she wrote:
    Well, last year I was glad to tell you I was about to start working for Globo magazines … I’ve been through several tests and interviews, and surpassed 24 thousand other candidates. Now I’m one of the six journalism interns at Globo. In this internship program we’ll be going through all areas on audiovisual journalism and the skills you taught us will be very helpful! Thanks again for everything.
    One of six individuals selected out of a total of 24,000 applicants … Now that’s impressive! Congratulations, Laura!
    Staying with the Brazilian theme, I also heard from Brazilian NYFA alum Amanda Salvato. Amanda is based in New York now, and she is regularly covering New York Fashion Week events.
    You can see her work on Amazon and AOL.
    In my memory, though, I still see Amanda at the New York Hilton Hotel on Election Night 2016, reporting on one of the most unexpected U.S. Presidential Election victories in history for our very own “NYFA News.” Great job, Amanda!
  • Jan. 22 Updates from the New York Film Academy’s Broadcast Journalism School

    Being a journalist isn’t a 9-to-5 job. News happens when it happens, and we have to cover it. But President Donald Trump’s arrival in Washington, D.C. has made every administration that preceded it look tame. In fact, it has forced news gathering organizations — all of them, not just the “mainstream” variety — to change how they do business.

    Awhile back, The New York Times posted a fascinating story on how — to steal a line from a NYC radio station — “the news watch never stops.” Given the events of this past weekend, with the U.S. government partially closed by a budget impasse, and more than a million women demonstrating around the country, I thought it would be a good time to share this article. (Click on the link, if only to see the great graphic in motion!)

    The start of a new year often signals big changes, and that certainly seems to be the case with NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Grace Shao, who writes:
    “Happy new year friends! All the best wishes to you in 2018! Happy to tell you all I’m moving to Shanghai … to pursue a new role with CGTN, covering the worlds fastest growing economy in one of the most vibrant metropolises!”
    Grace is currently spending a lot of time shuttling between Beijing (PEK) and Shanghai (PVG or SHA). I hope she is saving up all those frequent flyer miles…
    And speaking of frequent flyers, NYFA alum Gillian Kemmerer is in Davos (again) this week, covering the annual World Economic Forum for Asset TV.
    And on the “news watch” over at CBS News is recent NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Lara Gato. Last Monday she reported to work at CBS’ digital news operation, where she will be working as an associate producer.
    And who was assigned to instruct her on CBS policies and procedures? NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Nour Idriss!
    Meanwhile, back on Battery Place, NYFA was one of the co-sponsors of Shanghai Film Week New York. I was honored to be chosen to participate in an Industry Panel discussion of U.S./PRC co-productions. As part of my presentation, I spoke about the three “rules” that underlie successful co-productions. One of which is, “Everything is based on relationships.”
  • New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism School Visits NBC News

    So, for graduates of the NYFA 1-Year Broadcast Journalism program, these pictures should bring back some memories!

    This month, the Fall 2017 1-Year students got an exclusive “behind the scenes” look at NBC News. It was all made possible by NBC News military affairs contributor Col. Jack Jacobs, who is also Chair of the NYFA Veteran’s Advancement program.

    While visiting NBC News, the students had the opportunity to meet MSNBC anchor Joy Reid.

    Then, they visited the set of her program “AM Joy,” while the show was in progress.

    Since prime time anchor Lester Holt was off, the NYFA students decided to help out as “substitute anchors” on the set of the “NBC Nightly News.”

    …and made a quick visit to make-up.

    They even had to chance to visit the set of “Saturday Night Live” during rehearsals. (You can hear the band playing here.)

    In fact, they even found out about some of the jokes on that night’s show, 10 hours before air time!

    These tours are available only to students in the NYFA Broadcast Journalism 1-Year Conservatory program. This group seems to have had fun…

  • A 2018 Kickoff From the New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism School

    Welcome to the first NYFA Broadcast Journalism update of 2018!

    Here in New York City, the biggest news story of the new year is the weather. At times, accurate weather reporting can be a matter of life and death. Convincing often cynical audiences that a storm is big, bad and deadly can be challenging. That’s when we need to use all of our skills to first gain the attention of, then maintain engagement with, our audience.
    NYFA grad George Colli — who is with News8 in New Haven, Connecticut — was a great example last week of both traditional news gathering techniques as well as cutting edge “broadcasting” technology.

    George lives at the beach, which most of the year is pretty fabulous. But when the recent mega-snow storm hit the East Coast, George wasn’t going anywhere, including work. So he set up shop right outside his house, and used his iPhone and a fast internet connection to feed his stories to News8.

    Besides reporting “on air,” George was also reporting “online.” At all times, but especially during emergencies, people turn to social media to find out what is going on. And there was George, streaming live on Facebook. One of the advantages of social media is that it is interactive. The “audience” is no longer passively consuming information, but can participate and contribute as well.

    George’s stories were up on the News8 website too. That’s him, up to his knees in floodwater as a storm surge-boosted high tide spills over the beach and the down the street. If a picture is worth a thousand words, that video is worth a million…

    Of course, some of our grads work in places that have been far warmer this month. One of them is Anita Efraim, who is in Brazil. She was just hired to work at a new news radio station being started in Rio de Janeiro. (No icy flood waters there!) The station is part of the dominant Globo media group, a good company to be working with if you want to establish a career path.

    Congratulations, Anita!

    Finally this week, all of the NYFA graduates who receive this update will know exactly what Elina Mukhersee (now of South Asia TV USA) is doing in the image below. It is a long-time NYFA Broadcast Journalism tradition, where new students “sign in” to the program. For the incoming 1-year, 8-week and 4-week students, this is a preview of what you will be doing in a few weeks. And for our alums, it is a visit to “memory lane.”

  • New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism School’s Last Weekly Update of 2017

    As this is the final Weekly Update for 2017, I wanted to tell you about what some of the NYFA Broadcast Journalism graduates have been doing recently…

    Celina Liv Danielsen is one of the hardest working people I ever met, and that hard work has apparently paid off. I heard from her last week via Facebook: “I have been working at the Danish television company TV2 for a year now, and I just found out that I’m among (together with a colleague) a nominee for the Best News Story of the Year at the award show ‘TV Prisen 2018.’ I just wanted to thank you and the school for teaching me so much…”

    Congratulations, Celina! Not bad for one year on the job…



    Meanwhile, more recent alum Melissa Aleman is now working on “Somos Texas,” a series that airs on Azteca TV. And her most recent story has a definite holiday theme: “Don’t miss out on the best location to take your selfie this Christmas! Today I’ll be showing you the place that has more than 4 million Christmas lights! Don’t miss a brand new holiday edition of #SomosTexas only on #azteca.”

    Want to find out about the plot of the next blockbuster film in the Jurassic Park series, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”? NYFA grad Daniella Gemignani interviewed director A.J Bayona for Globo TV in Brazil.

    Bryanna Reynolds recently interviewed international entertainment legend Kylie Minogue at the Melbourne premiere of the “Swinging Safari,” which Bryanna describes as “an Australian comedy.”  It’s a coming-of-age film that takes place in the 1970s.

    When Elina Mukherjee went to Times Square to report a NYFA student project earlier this year, she had no idea it would turn out to be a job interview for TV Asia USA. Someone from the New Jersey-based programming service saw her doing her stand-up, and he was so impressed he offered her a job as a freelance reporter after she graduated. Her first assignment is the Global Healthcare Summit taking place in India. Then she will be reporting stories from Long Island, which is a suburb of New York City. Congratulations, Elina!
    Finally, on a personal note, it was an amazing year. I never dreamed I’d be asked to participate in the international version of a major CCTV cultural history series … and end up as the host. The six-part documentary series is headed to the MIPTV international TV market in Cannes next April.
    Have a wonderful holiday, whatever tradition(s) you follow, and I’ll be back next year with more news about the NYFA Broadcast Journalism department.
    Until then, stay tuned!
  • New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism School Weekly Update Dec. 4

    This week we are going to take a look at what some NYFA Broadcast Journalism graduates are doing…
    George Colli at News8 in Connecticut reported a truly frightening story last week about the sale of realistic looking toy guns. Unfortunately, this is the type of story that local news departments end up running all too often. It would be easy for police officers to assume that some of these toys are actual weapons. The results could be tragic.
    Note that this online version of the story, in addition to full motion video, also has links to various digital platforms. Increasingly, news operations are depending on their audience to “share” postings with their friends. That’s because a story shared by a known and trusted source is far more likely to be read than something “pushed” by a news publisher. People are becoming increasingly skeptical of news reporting. But if a story is “endorsed” as it were by a friend, they feel it is much more credible.
    NYFA alumna Viviane Faver was a member of my first class of 1-Year Broadcast Journalism students. And while she loves her home country of Brazil, she was determined to find a place for herself her in New York. Which she certainly has done…
    Part of what she does here is report for various Brazilian publications. The most recent example is a story about women entrepreneurs, which I discovered through Viviane’s Facebook page.
    Nice work, Viviane!
    Staying in Brazil…
    Press IDs are utilitarian, but within the journalism community they also confer status. I will never forget when I got my first NYPD Working Press card — the one that said I could cross fire lines. (That card is buried in a box, somewhere in my attic. One of my Emmy Awards is somewhere up there too.) All of which is to say “congratulations” to NYFA grad Daniel Rebelo Fideli on getting a press ID for the 2017 Brazil Formula One Grand Prix. Daniel is with, and apparently he was very busy over race weekend.
    Georgia Hammond was one of Viviane’s classmates and she, like Daniel, was working recently on a story relating the F1 racing. Only in her case, it is the story about how Guide Dogs Australia is the official charity for the 2017 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.
    Now, all of my current and former students have heard me talk about “little kids and animals,” and how viewers always respond to both. (Unfortunately, however, neither the animals or the children do what you want them to do when you want them to do it.) Georgia did a puppy story, and by the looks of this video it must have been quite an adventure…
    Finally, it looks to me like NYFA grad Starla Sampaco was “ready for some football” last evening. Starla is working as a Digital Media Intern at KIRO, the CBS TV affiliate station in Seattle, Washington. I don’t know how the home team did, but Starla seems to have everything under control. Here is a wonderful report she did about Filipino Nouvelle Cuisine back when she was a Broadcast Journalism student here in New York.
  • NYFA Broadcast Journalism Program Updates Nov. 27

    Last Thursday, here in the United States, we celebrated Thanksgiving. If you aren’t familiar with this public holiday, at its core it is about “giving thanks” for what we have.
    Most of you know that I have worked extensively in China over the course of my career. In fact, I was there twice this year working on documentary projects. And I could not have accomplished anything without the help of translators, location coordinators, reporters, co-producers and other local people. I am extremely thankful to have worked with them, and appreciate all their help.
    Unfortunately, many international journalists refer to their local associates as “fixers.” The belief underlying that term is that these folks bribe and cajole the “powers that be” so that we (foreigners) can work without the bother of confronting greedy, obstructionist and generally ill-mannered locals. The Global Investigative Journalism Network posted a wonderful story earlier this month about this racist attitude.
    I am also thankful for some of the wonderful people who have studied in the NYFA Broadcast Journalism program. One of them is Liz Rose, from British Columbia — “BC” as we “in the know” say — in Canada. Liz was a member of my first class of 1-year conservatory students. Since then, she has been on a mission to climb the seven major mountains in the world, including Mount Everest. In the process, she has raised money for deserving community organizations. Recently she was honored on the floor of the Canadian Parliament for her achievements. I encourage you to listen to an excerpt of what MP Pam Goldsmith-Jones had to say about Liz. 
    We at NYFA believe journalists play a special role in society. It may sound old-fashioned, but we think journalists have a responsibility to act in society’s best interests, to “do good.” Liz is certainly doing this in her life. Thank you, Liz.
    Finally, given that the news business can be pretty difficult at times, a sense of humor is essential. Last week, a former colleague and long-time friend, camera operator Mark DiPietro of “News12 New Jersey,” shared with me an absolutely wonderful video clip. Imagine that your boss has sent you out to cover a big local event — the implosion of an old sports stadium. You have been set up for a couple of hours, positioned to capture the entire scene. Then, at the most critical moment, BOOM … and your shot is blocked.
    Thanks, Mark!