TV&R Course #16
Section BC, Code #1413
Monday & Wednesday 9:00 - 10:15 a.m.
Whitehead Hall 401A
Professor: Martin Spinelli
Office: 406 Whitehead
Office hours: Monday 11:45 - 1:45 & Wednesday 11:45 - 12:45
(Also at other times by appointment. I will typically be on campus Tuesday and can
arrange to meet you then as well. Either email me or call the Department of Television
& Radio at 951-5555.)
Before there were mixing boards and tape machines, before there were computerized editing systems
and digital recorders, before radio and television had even been invented, there were good broadcast
writers. From Greek dramatists to town criers, the skills of focused and lively oral communication
have been practiced throughout the ages. The goal of this course is to help you understand and develop
these skills through careful listening to examples of good broadcast writing and through practical
exercises in the form of class assignments and workshops, out-of-class writing and reading projects,
peer-editing sessions, and frequent (often surprise) quizzes.
By the end of this course students will be able to:
- recognize the difference between writing for print and writing for broadcast
- write headline news and deliver a two-minute newscast
- recognize the difference between broadcast news and features
- conceive and write broadcast features which skillfully incorporate actualities ("soundbites")
- write effective promotional announcements (PSAs and commercials)
- understand basic broadcasting terminology
- write a radio essay and a short broadcast drama
- thoughtfully edit the work of peers and utilize the editing suggestions of others in their own
Assignments and Grades:
Proviso #1: Assignments are due when they are due. I have no patience for excuses involving hungry
dogs, dead grandmothers, delinquent siblings, acts of natural disaster, and the like. Similarly, notes
from Dr. Mom will gain you no sympathy. I do NOT accept late work. If you feel you might be
unable to meet a deadline you must discuss it with me during a class meeting before the assignment is
due. Only then will I consider granting you an extension.
Proviso #2: As each class meeting will build on the material presented in previous sessions, attendance
is extremely important. If you miss more than three class meetings I reserve the right to lower your
final grade one-half of a letter for each subsequent absence. Showing up on time is equally
important. I will allow a five-minute grace period at the beginning of class; if you show up later than
9:05 you will not receive attendance credit and may be locked out of class.
- Your written broadcast scripts and other homework assignments will count for 40% of your final
grade. These will be generated both in and out of class and will include: individual news stories,
whole newscasts, feature stories, announcements, commentaries and dramas.
- Your final project, a script of an original drama from ten to twenty minutes long, will count for
20%. This should be written using appropriate formatting and display an understanding of
characterization, the use of effects, and dramatic structure.
- Quizzes will count for another 35% and will include (but not be limited to) the following:
- comprehension of the assigned readings
- writing news under deadline pressure from provided raw materials
- delivering a prepared newscast on a clock
- correcting errors found in sample scripts
If you miss a quiz it counts as a zero. There are no make-up quizzes.
- The final 5% of your grade is based on your class participation. Because much of this course will
revolve around discussions of existing broadcast material and the writing of you and your peers,
active participation is essential. You are expected to make thoughtful contributions to classroom
discussion and to participate seriously in peer editing sessions.
- A packet available at Far Better Printing which includes various essays on broadcast writing,
sample scripts and raw news material.
- Students will also be required to listen to various assigned radio programs throughout the semester.
Weekly breakdown by topic (subject to change):
Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: Broadcast writing vs. print writing
Week 3: Writing with your voice in mind
Weeks 4-5: News writing format and style
Weeks 6-7: Broadcast essays, editorials and commentaries
Weeks 8-9: Feature research and writing
Week 10-11: Writing promotional announcements
Week 12: Principles of effective editing and revision
Weeks 13-14: The broadcast drama