Students learn how to create elements that are essential to the production of digital news programs: the VO (Voice Over), the news package, the interview profile and the long-form story. They also are taught how to create a career-building resume reel. Later students gain experience working with their own smartphone cameras, using third-party software to give their phones the type of video controls found on HD cameras. Smartphone cameras are far less intrusive than traditional video cameras, and are increasingly being used even in legacy media production. An understanding of, and an ability to create these elements are central to success as a digital journalist. Students learn some of the most basic concepts of journalism, as in the distinction between those who actively report the news (reporters, producers, cameramen/women), and those who comment and analyze news events (columnists, bloggers, citizen journalists). They come to understand the difference between “news” and “opinion.” Emphasis is placed on becoming Multimedia Journalists (MMJs), who can produce, report, shoot, write, narrate and edit their own stories, and how these skills are applicable in a wide range of news genres including national news, local news, sports news, lifestyle and fashion news, technology news and more. Through practice, students come to appreciate powerful visual storytelling, using the camera as a reporting tool, and appreciating the power of composition and motion. Students also learn to write clear evocative copy, which reflects a deliberate, and easy-to-follow story structure, but is also succinct. Students are prepared for the job market through an overview of the evolution and changing nature of news. The concept of digital journalism is explored, with special attention paid to the convergence of journalism and technology, the tools used by digital journalists, the potential and limits of various distribution platforms, and the digital journalist’s relationship to news organizations. Central to all these efforts is an emphasis on journalistic ethics and the production of balanced, evidence-based stories.
In this course, students learn firsthand the skills required to be a successful digital camera operator. Students immediately start training on a camera that incorporates many of the features associated with high-end high definition (HD) cameras, but its relative ease of use makes it understandable to novice digital journalists. Students get their first hands-on experience with a camera on the second day of classes. This allows students to begin shooting footage almost immediately, putting into practice lessons learned in Broadcast Journalism class. Instructors emphasize a holistic approach to video making, stressing that shooting entails a number of related skills. Students are also taught basic sound recording, including choice of the right type of microphone and simultaneous recording of multiple audio tracks. All of this allows students to better understand both the theory and practice of digital video making.
Editing is one of the most fundamental skills in a content creator’s toolbox. This course seeks to encourage students to analyze media, and to discuss it on an intellectual level by understanding and using the editing tools most commonly employed in broadcast news editing, digital journalism and documentaries. While the class will place emphasis on student’s understanding and use of editing software, students will also discuss editing theory and techniques, so that they may understand not only the “how-to” of editing but also the “why.” Topics considered include: understanding the impact of editing, the ability to organize media efficiently for edits (“workflow”), the ability to select useful sound bites quickly, understanding how to structure primary storylines in post-production, the selection of complimentary b-roll footage, how to become comfortable using industry standard digital editing software, the ability to edit quickly and work within tight deadlines, and methods to export media to the web as well as other destinations. The final element of the course is editing a resume reel that best demonstrates the student’s talents, abilities and potential.
Working under the supervision of New York Film Academy staff members, students have the opportunity to test their production skills in the classroom prior to going out to shoot, and then edit, field assignments. The goal is for students to gain confidence in their abilities, while at the same time confronting and correcting the basic mistakes common to beginners. The Production Workshop classes take place within the context of Broadcast Journalism assignments.