August 2009 Archives

24 Aug Introduction: Setonian Intro

27 Aug Setonian 1 On Stands

31 Aug Podcasting and Blogging Intro
  • In Class: Journalism Basics (TBA)
  • Due: Ex1: Goals; 500 words on your interest in contributing to The Setonian this year (conventionally, and also with sound)
07 Aug Update:

Because we haven't yet had a class period where the internet is functioning and I can demonstrate the class blogs, I have rearranged the assignments a little.  (Nothing is being moved up, only delayed or demoted.) Initially I had planned to assign some readings, but until everyone in class has had the chance to have a blogging demonstration, I'll hold off on that.

So, your homework for next week and the following weeks is:

1) Make sure that has your e-mail on the mailing list, so that as soon as Tiffany sends out the schedule for the next issue, you will be able to find out when work sessions are scheduled, and how you can participate. 
2) Work on your 400-word editorial (due, in written form, Monday the 14th). Upload to (class ID 2843563, password "min3sources"). [Note -- this is the correct password. --DGJ, 07 Sep]
2a) As a model, reflect on one or two of the "This I Believe" essays (in this year's SHU summer reading book, and/or online at (You choose the model, you choose how to reflect.)
2b) We'll have time in class for recording during class on the 21st, but I won't have enough microphones for everyone. If you possibly can, please come to class on the 21st with a recording (even if it's not your best, final work).
3) For 28 Sep, you will submit a 400-word news story that focuses on your contributions to The Setonian. Go ahead and fabricate quotations from yourself, as if you have interviewed yourself, but you'll also need quotations from Setonian staff members and anyone else who can shed light on your contributions.

I will adjust the rest of the class schedule after we've had a sense of how much time we'll need to spend in training with Audicity (the audio-editing software). I may add some readings, but I will always either announce them in class or e-mail them to you, and you'll always have a week to respond on your blogs (even if it's breaking news and I assign the readings closer to the discussion day).

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

07 Sep Labor Day (Class will not meet; online homework originally scheduled here will be rescheduled. See above note for what's due on the 14th and beyond.)
  • Text: Radio Newscasts (TBA) and "This I Believe" samples
  • Due: Analysis (posted to your blog)

14 Sep: Small Group Readings; technical practice
  • Due: Ex2a: 400 word editorial (just write it out -- don't record it yet)

21 Sep Recording Workshop
  • Text: Radio Feature (TBA)
  • Due: Ex2b: Audio Recording (about 3min)

24 Sep Setonian 2 On Stands

28 Sep Podcast Workshop
  • Text: Ambient Sound (TBA)
  • Due: Portfolio 1; Ex2c: Intro & Outro text (aim for exactly 4min)

05 Oct Peer Profile Workshop

08 Oct Ex 3a: Peer Profile (about 2.5 min)


14 Oct Ex3: Audio Body; Intro & Outro text (aim for exactly 3min)

14 Oct Setonian 3

19 Oct NCCHE (National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education) Background
  • Text: Oral History
  • Due: Portfolio 2

26 Oct Cover NCCHE Conference at SHU

02 Nov Technical Workshop
  • Due: Ex4: 2-minute NCCHE feature (including about 20sec intro and 10 sec outro)

05 Nov Setonian 4

09 Nov Journalism Workshop
  • Due: Ex 5 Pitches
  • Due: Portfolio 3

16 Nov Technical Workshop
  • Due: Progress Report

23 Nov Technical Workshop
  • Due: Ex 5: 500 words / 3-4 minutes (with intro/outro)

30 Nov Technical Workshop
  • Due: Portfolio 4

07 Dec Technical Workshop
  • Final Project Peer Review (5-8 min, with draft of online presentation)
Online presentation of final project
Use your blog. Post the MP3, with introductory text and links your listeners would find useful. Images and a transcript are welcome, but optional.

During the final exam slot, you will present this web page in an informal oral presentation, and we will listen to the audio. Be sure to focus on making sure the listener has a clear idea of who is speaking. Explain the background audio, too -- you know where you were standing and what was happening, but your listener won't know unless you put the explanation in words.



A podcast is the production of a short audio piece featuring the spoken word, for release on the internet.

The term combines "iPod" and "broadcasting," emphasizes the collapsing distance between creator and producer of 21st century media. 

In the past, you needed the support of a broadcasting studio to get your voice in the public arena, but now the internet is full of chatter, of all levels of professionalism and quality.

From time to time, groups of students express interest in starting a radio station at SHU. Typically these students graduate before they make much progress, but I don't want to wait for a radio station to exist, before I teach my new media journalism audio  reporting skills.

The multimedia nature of 21st Century news reporting means that the ability to gather high-quality sound -- as well as digital stills and video, web links, and ideas for interactive features like polls or discussion forum topics) is increasingly becoming a core journalism skill.

The term "podcast" can apply variously to personal rants, informal product reviews, or comedy routines. This term, however, our "Media Lab" podcasts will be in the tradition of radio news.
  • An opinion piece, like NPR's This I Believe).
  • Some on-the-spot reporting (where you will record live sound in the field, from a speaker or interview, and work brief clips into the body of your own story) (samples -- KQV PittsburghKDKA Pittsburgh).
  • And some news features (NPR is the king of this sort of thing... here's a link to a story about the cancellation of "Reading Rainbow".... you're probably humming the theme song now.)


We won't have time to look at all of this in class, but this handout (from my EL227 "News Writing" class), "English Essay vs. News Story," addresses many of the issues faced by entry-level journalism students who are used to writing for their English literature teachers. Note especially the section on the inverted pyramid.

Also noteworthy: this handout on Leads.

Radio News Delivery

Listen to a short news broadcast, such as the NPR Hourly News Summary. These stories will typically include audio clips from newsmakers, and perhaps the noise of crowds or nature. But for this exercise, we're just focusing on the sound of the radio journalist's voice.

Don't try to sound like "an announcer."  Forget the barking style of voice that radio announcers always seem to have in movies when they "interrupt this program with a special bulletin."
Radio News Delivery.mp3
(By the way, a typical radio story is just 50 seconds long, which is about how long it took me to read the following.
A radio newscaster's voice begins each story on a high pitch, with the first sentence of the story ending with a slight drop.
The second sentence starts at exactly this same pitch, which is an important audio cue that we're still on the same subject.

Note this slight boost of energy in the third sentence, which is important because the tone can't keep dropping forever.

Although I wouldn't do it when delivering a hard news story, I'm about to hang my voice, indicating I've got plenty more to say.

My speech is formal but conversational, with both high and low pitches within each sentence, though the general trend has been downward.

You can always tell the final sentence in a radio journalist's story; it slows down just a bit, and its pitches are the lowest of the whole piece.
For the New Media Journalism program at Seton Hill University, I'm Dennis Jerz.
Newsworthiness (Sample News Feature)

Next is an example of a news feature, which is far more conversational. I'm not trying to sound like I'm shouting to everyone who might be listening; rather, I'm talking to just one friend sitting right next to me.

This piece is a little longer -- we won't listen to it in class, but do pay attention to both the form (the way I use my voice) and the content (in which I give a 9-minute mini- lecture, expanding this brief handout on newsworthiness).

Brief summary:
  • Reporters report the newsworthy things that other people do.
  • The unusual or unexpected is more newsworthy than the ordinary and routine.
  • Famous or notable people (eccentric, infamous) are more newsworthy than ordinary people.
  • Weird, scary and violent stuff are newsworthy.
  • "If it bleeds, it leads." Disasters that don't happen aren't news.
  • Mildly annoying things that happen to notable people are newsworthy.
  • Events affecting more people are more newsworthy.
  • Nearby events are more newsworthy than distant events.
  • Current events, or trends that can be tied to a current event, are more newsworthy than history.

Recent Comments

Dennis G. Jerz on Ex 1: Goals Statement (03 Sep, 23:19h)
Chelsea Oliver on Ex 1: Goals Statement (03 Sep, 21:33h)
Dennis G. Jerz on Schedule (31 Aug, 15:44h)
Dennis G. Jerz on Schedule (30 Aug, 22:06h)
Chelsea Oliver on Schedule (30 Aug, 21:46h)
Daniella Choynowski on Schedule (28 Aug, 21:16h)
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