Category: MMC 4936 – Fall 2016

Upcoming dates and deadlines

MMC 4936 - Fall 2016

As I discussed in class today, here are some of the upcoming deadlines and marks we need to hit:

  • No class Weds., Nov. 9
  • Preliminary budget lines due Mon., Nov. 14 at 11 am
  • Clean data ready by Mon., Nov. 21 at 11 am
  • Website ready to launch Weds., Nov. 30 at 11 am
  • Project drafts due Weds., Nov. 30 at 11 am (if you don’t turn in a draft by this point, I won’t be able to look at it.)
  • Rewritten/final stories due by Weds., Dec. 7 at 11:30 am


  • Data Journalists: Alex & Leo
  • Photographer: Rodrigo
  • Text Journalists: Cassandra, Brandon and Michelle
  • Video Journalists: Dee & Jamie
  • Audio Journalist: Liz
  • Web Editors: Diana & Yaneli

Notes about grades – MMC4936

MMC 4936 - Fall 2016

I want to point out and clarify a few things about how items in this course will be graded. As I have mentioned, this is an experimental class, and though we are clearly doing a ton of work, most of that is going to be pass/fail. As all of you have completed the four such assignments we’ve had this semester (our final assignment will be a repeat of the exit-polling exercise on Nov. 8 we had for the primary). Following that, the only work left in the class will be the second project, which I’ll introduce us to on Monday.

But, because some of you have worries about your overall grade or perhaps confused how it will be calculated, I refer you to the syllabus. Specifically:

  • Assignments (five total) = 50% (graded pass/fail)
  • Project 1 = 20% (numeric grade)
  • Project 2 (aka the final) = 30% (numeric grade)

Though not explicitly in the syllabus, please understand that I have the right to not publish any article or piece that does not meet SFNS standards. Effectively, this would be an “A” piece and/or the willingness for the students to reedit and/or rewrite to make it an “A” piece. The initial grade, however, would not change following submission. The benefit of publication (and potentially getting paid for that work) would be the carrot.

Additionally, I have the right to reject any piece that markedly changes from the budget line without discussion and approval from me. I am your editor, after all, and the first commandment of journalism is Thou Shalt Not Surprise the Boss. Letting me know a source dropped out 30 minutes prior to deadline is not OK. Communication is key. I don’t expect you to be miracle workers, but I expect you to work hard and to you best…There’s no way to know that you’ve done your best unless you tell me what you’ve done.

In any event, please note that late items cannot receive higher than a 70% (this is explicitly in the syllabus). However, that is better than a zero, no? Let me know if you have any questions.

Courthouse field trip – Weds, Oct. 19

J309 - Fall 2014MMC 4936 - Fall 2016

Here are the details for our field trip tomorrow. We are meeting at the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building, 1351 NW 12 Street, Miami, 33125. This is a couple minutes away from the Civic Center Metrorail station. In addition, because we’re not meeting at the downtown courthouses, parking is cheaper, but not free. 

We are meeting with Eunice Sigler. She is the main spokeswoman for the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida, which as you remember from class, is the court that handles felony criminal cases and unlimited jurisdiction (more than $15K) civil manners.

This is a combined class with my JOU3117 and MMC4936 sections. As such, I have scheduled our meeting with Ms. Sigler at 10 am in order to make it possible for as many people as possible to attend. However, I understand many of you have classes before or afterward at the BBC campus. As such, I will available starting at 9 am for anyone that wants a tour given by me so you can leave in enough time to make it to your next class. 

Here is the timeline and breakdown. For each time period, we will be meeting in the front lobby, just past the metal detectors.  

9:15 am — I will start my tour of the courthouse with students that need to meet early

10 am — Our meeting with Ms. Sigler, which I expect to last between 60-90 minutes 

11:30 am — I will give a second tour of the courthouse with students need to meet later 

Do not be late. Text/cell service is not reliable within the courthouse building and prohibited in courtrooms. We cannot wait for you, so I ask that you be respectful of our time and plan ahead for traffic and parking. Miami’s roads are not a mystery to any of you. 

Finally, a few things you need to know: 

– Dress in business attire. Do not wear jeans, shorts or flip-flops. 

– Gum is prohibited in most courtrooms. Leave it at home. 

– Remove anything that might be considered a weapon (pepper spray, penknives, etc) at home or in your car. 

Video production guides, requirements and tips

MMC 4936 - Fall 2016SFNS

There are three main requirements for video stories for the South Florida News Service and this class.

The first is a storyboard template. You want to plan out completely how the shoot will go voiceovers and the whole setup of the piece. Fill this out [PDF]. 

Second, create a detailed outline, including drafts of voiceovers, the sources you intend to interview, how b-roll will be used, and the pacing of the piece itself. How does it start, what happens in the middle and how does it end? Fill this out as well [PDF]. 

Some general tips: 

• Remember that video work is done in PRESENT tense. This is different than text. 

Video pieces are done linearly. That means that your first words are not the lede in the same manner of a text piece. You introduce the story, have some b-roll that leads us in, having your interviews, perhaps more b-roll, additional sources and conclude the piece with an outro that ends with “Reporting for SFNS, Brandon Gonzalez with Cassandra Cabral.” Only one voice for the outro please. 

Edit your pieces in Premiere and give yourselves enough time to do the editing to make your deadline. Pieces need to be less than five minutes, so keep that in mind. 

• Plan to record a WIDE, MEDIUM, & TIGHT of every shot. Shoot to edit in mind every time, and the variety of shots will make the editing process much, much smoother. 

Make sure to account for audio; ambient sounds, natural sounds, echo, by writing these notes down on your storyboard.  Audio is just as important as video, if not more.

Utilize the “circle spectrum.” Imagine an invisible circle around the action or event taking place. Now go INSIDE the circle to capture your shots to find creative and unique angles and distances viewers will find interesting. Give your viewers unique access to your subject. Don’t be on the outside looking in. Be in the action.

• When planning for ACTION shots, make sure to record at least one REACTION shot for each action shot. The emotion is in the reaction on the audience’s face, the crowd going wild, the tears of joy… not necessarily on the action. Get to the emotion and plan for it on the storyboard!

Never have two of the same shots in a row, such as wide-wide, medium-medium, close-close. Therefore, every edit should be from a different camera distance and angle. 

• Finally, if interviewing multiple people alternate the Rule of Thirds for the interviewees – left third/right third, especially if videotaping the interviews in the same location. Offering a variety of locations and backgrounds for those people being interviewed is visually interesting and won’t confuse the viewer.

Another method is to do the famed BBC five-shot technique, which needs to be in order. See a few examples of this below:

More useful links:

Story One Updates, Notes and Debate Reminder

MMC 4936 - Fall 2016

Hi all, please check out the updated story list here [PDF]. Please remember our project has several overarching themes, specifically:

  • Focused on the presidential election and its impact on South Florida
  • Focused on younger voters, around the 18-24 age range

For those of you doing video/photo/audio remember that your sources must be fully identified, either by voice, chyron or in the captions. Your images must be telling a story, not just pretty pictures. Make sure your audio, if applicable, is clear and that any voiceovers and intros are done in a quiet room. Use the one on the first floor of AC2. Here are a few links to help you in this regard:

Also, though each of our assignments this semester so far has been graded on a pass/no-pass basis, this project will be graded. To get an idea of what I’m looking for, please look at this rubric [PDF].

Finally, here are some links to inspire, provide some background and give you a bit of a template for what we’re looking to do:

Oct. 12 Class notes

MMC 4936 - Fall 2016

Here are the notes from today’s class [PDF]. Also, a few notes on upcoming events/deadlines:


  • We will be having a field trip to the downtown Miami Courthouse next Weds, Oct. 19.
  • The deadline for the first project has been given a second (and final) extension to Oct. 26 at 12 pm.

Florida’s Open Records Law — FAQ via the state Attorney General

J3117 - Fall 2016MMC 4936 - Fall 2016

This is a reposting from this link. 

  • What is the Sunshine Law?
    Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine law provides a right of access to governmental proceedings at both the state and local levels. It applies to any gathering of two or more members of the same board to discuss some matter which will foresee ably come before that board for action. There is also a constitutionally guaranteed right of access. Virtually all state and local collegial public bodies are covered by the open meetings requirements with the exception of the judiciary and the state Legislature which has its own constitutional provision relating to access.
  • What are the requirements of the Sunshine law?
    The Sunshine law requires that 1) meetings of boards or commissions must be open to the public; 2) reasonable notice of such meetings must be given, and 3) minutes of the meeting must be taken.
  • What agencies are covered under the Sunshine Law?
    The Government-in-the-Sunshine Law applies to “any board or commission of any state agency or authority or of any agency or authority of any county, municipal corporation or political subdivision.” Thus, it applies to public collegial bodies within the state at both the local as well as state level. It applies equally to elected or appointed boards or commissions.
  • Are federal agencies covered by the Sunshine Law?
    Federal agencies operating in the state do not come under Florida’s Sunshine law.
  • Does the Sunshine Law apply to the Legislature?
    Florida’s Constitution provides that meetings of the Legislature be open and noticed except those specifically exempted by the Legislature or specifically closed by the Constitution. Each house is responsible through its rules of procedures for interpreting, implementing and enforcing these provisions. Information on the rules governing openness in the Legislature can be obtained from the respective houses.
  • Does the Sunshine Law apply to members-elect?
    Members-elect of public boards or commissions are covered by the Sunshine law immediately upon their election to public office.
  • What qualifies as a meeting?
    The Sunshine law applies to all discussions or deliberations as well as the formal action taken by a board or commission. The law, in essence, is applicable to any gathering, whether formal or casual, of two or more members of the same board or commission to discuss some matter on which foreseeable action will be taken by the public board or commission. There is no requirement that a quorum be present for a meeting to be covered under the law.
  • Can a public agency hold closed meetings?
    There are a limited number of exemptions which would allow a public agency to close a meeting. These include, but are not limited to, certain discussions with the board’s attorney over pending litigation and portions of collective bargaining sessions. In addition, specific portions of meetings of some agencies (usually state agencies) may be closed when those agencies are making probable cause determinations or considering confidential records.
  • Does the law require that a public meeting be audio taped?
    There is no requirement under the Sunshine law that tape recordings be made by a public board or commission, but if they are made, they become public records.
  • Can a city restrict a citizen’s right to speak at a meeting?
    Public agencies are allowed to adopt reasonable rules and regulations which ensure the orderly conduct of a public meeting and which require orderly behavior on the part of the public attending. This includes limiting the amount of time an individual can speak and, when a large number of people attend and wish to speak, requesting that a representative of each side of the issue speak rather than every one present.
  • As a private citizen, can I videotape a public meeting?
    A public board may not prohibit a citizen from videotaping a public meeting through the use of nondisruptive video recording devices.
  • Can a board vote by secret ballot?
    The Sunshine law requires that meetings of public boards or commissions be “open to the public at all times.” Thus, use of preassigned numbers, codes or secret ballots would violate the law.
  • Can two members of a public board attend social functions together?
    Members of a public board are not prohibited under the Sunshine law from meeting together socially, provided that matters which may come before the board are not discussed at such gatherings.
  • What is a public record?
    The Florida Supreme Court has determined that public records are all materials made or received by an agency in connection with official business which are used to perpetuate, communicate or formalize knowledge. They are not limited to traditional written documents. Tapes, photographs, films and sound recordings are also considered public records subject to inspection unless a statutory exemption exists.
  • Can I request public documents over the telephone and do I have to tell why I want them?
    Nothing in the public records law requires that a request for public records be in writing or in person, although individuals may wish to make their request in writing to ensure they have an accurate record of what they requested. Unless otherwise exempted, a custodian of public records must honor a request for records, whether it is made in person, over the telephone, or in writing, provided the required fees are paid. In addition, nothing in the law requires the requestor to disclose the reason for the request.
  • How much can an agency charge for public documents?
    The law provides that the custodian shall furnish a copy of public records upon payment of the fee prescribed by law. If no fee is prescribed, an agency is normally allowed to charge up to 15 cents per one-sided copy for copies that are 14″ x 8 1/2″ or less. A charge of up to $1 per copy may be assessed for a certified copy of a public record. If the nature and volume of the records to be copied requires extensive use of information technology resources or extensive clerical or supervisory assistance, or both, the agency may charge a reasonable service charge based on the actual cost incurred.
  • Does an agency have to explain why it denies access to public records?
    A custodian of a public record who contends that the record or part of a record is exempt from inspection must state the basis for that exemption, including the statutory citation. Additionally, when asked, the custodian must state in writing the reasons for concluding the record is exempt.


  • When does a document sent to a public agency become a public document?
    As soon as a document is received by a public agency, it becomes a public record, unless there is a legislatively created exemption which makes it confidential and not subject to disclosure.
  • Are public employee personnel records considered public records?
    The rule on personnel records is the same as for other public documents … unless the Legislature has specifically exempted an agency’s personnel records or authorized the agency to adopt rules limiting public access to the records, personnel records are open to public inspection. There are, however, numerous statutory exemptions that apply to personnel records.
  • Can an agency refuse to allow public records to be inspected or copied if requested to do so by the maker or sender of the documents?
    No. To allow the maker or sender of documents to dictate the circumstances under which documents are deemed confidential would permit private parties instead of the Legislature to determine which public records are public and which are not.
  • Are arrest records public documents?
    Arrest reports prepared by a law enforcement agency after the arrest of a subject are generally considered to be open for public inspection. At the same time, however, certain information such as the identity of a sexual battery victim is exempt.
  • Is an agency required to give out information from public records or produce public records in a particular form as requested by an individual?
    The Sunshine Law provides for a right of access to inspect and copy existing public records. It does not mandate that the custodian give out information from the records nor does it mandate that an agency create new records to accommodate a request for information.
  • What agency can prosecute violators?
    The local state attorney has the statutory authority to prosecute alleged criminal violations of the open meetings and public records law. Certain civil remedies are also available.
  • What is the difference between the Sunshine Amendment and the Sunshine Law?
    The Sunshine Amendment was added to Florida’s Constitution in 1976 and provides for full and public disclosure of the financial interests of all public officers, candidates and employees. The Sunshine Law provides for open meetings for governmental boards
  • How can I find out more about the open meetings and public records laws?
    Probably the most comprehensive guide to understanding the requirements and exemptions to Florida’s open government laws is the Government-in-the-Sunshine manual compiled by the Attorney General’s Office. The manual is updated each year and is available for purchase through the First Amendment Foundation in Tallahassee. For information on obtaining a copy, contact the First Amendment Foundation at (850) 224-4555.

Top of Form


First Class Project // Oct. 10 Class Meeting

MMC 4936 - Fall 2016

Good afternoon everyone. Thanks for a good class. Here are a few links and notes for the first class project as well as info on what we’re going to be doing next Monday, Oct. 10.

First, as projects have been developed and evolved, I want to put together a final budget for the first class project. As such, please resend your budget lines to by 12 pm on Oct. 10. Even if nothing has changed, please resend it so I know I have the most current one available. Refer to earlier links to check the format.

The deadline for the projects, as I mentioned last week, has been extended to Oct. 19 at 11 am. 

Second, instead of holding the Oct. 10 class at its normal time and place, I would like to have us attend as a group a lecture on the MMC campus titled “Politicking via Meme: The Influence of Social Media on the 2016 Presidential Election.” That will be head a week from today starting at 12:30 in Green Library 220.

Here’s the link:  

First Project – Sked Lines

MMC 4936 - Fall 2016

I will need your budget lines for the first project by the end of the day today. The only exception are those who are working on interactive. Those who are working on photo stories need to have at least a preliminary idea of what you want your pieces to look like. Please put it in the format below, written in a response to this email so I know where to find it. 

Leave the “art” section blank for the moment, as we’ll need to coordinate that with the photogs in the week prior to deadline. (That is, next Weds at the latest, as these pieces are due Oct. 5)

Text Budget Line: 

Slug: Operation Christmas Child
Writer: Chad Garland
Summary: When Emmy Silverman visited the Philippines last year, she went to some locations that had never been visited by foreigners before to deliver some of the 6,000 boxes filled with goodies donated to Filipino children in need.
Live Art/Photographer: Yes, Garland
Words: 600
Deadline: Oct. 5 @11:59 pm 

Video Budget Line: 

Slug: Operation Christmas Child
Producer(s): Chad Garland
Summary: When Emmy Silverman visited the Philippines last year, she went to some locations that had never been visited by foreigners before to deliver some of the 6,000 boxes filled with goodies donated to Filipino children in need.
Length: 4:30 (should not be longer than 5 min)
Deadline: Oct. 5 @11:59 pm 

Podcast Budget Line:

Slug: Operation Christmas Child
Producer(s): Chad GarlandSummary: When Emmy Silverman visited the Philippines last year, she went to some locations that had never been visited by foreigners before to deliver some of the 6,000 boxes filled with goodies donated to Filipino children in need.
Interview targets/date (confirmed): Silverman, 9/28
Interview targets/date (pending): Jamie Francisco (Filipino coordinator), TBD
Length: 10 min (should not be longer than 15 min)
Deadline: Oct. 5 @11:59 pm 

Photo Story Budget Line: 

Slug: Operation Christmas Child
Photographer: Chad Garland
Summary: When Emmy Silverman visited the Philippines last year, she went to some locations that had never been visited by foreigners before to deliver some of the 6,000 boxes filled with goodies donated to Filipino children in need.
Expected images: 12-15 (no more than 20)
Deadline: Oct. 5 @11:59 pm 

Class Notes – Sept. 12

MMC 4936 - Fall 2016

Here are the slides from today’s class [PDF]. Please remember I need the following from you by the start of next class:

  • Full name, address and date of birth (candidates only)
  • Call the City Clerk and confirm you have all the names and ballot measures

Use this list as a starting point [PDF], but realize it needs to be confirmed.

You are also going to need to get a high-resolution photo of the candidates, but that will not be until the actual deadlines, which are different for each team. Here are those cities/teams:

  • Key Biscayne (Michelle / Rodrigo) – Due Sept. 19 @12 pm
  • South Miami (Brandon / Cassandra) – Due Sept. 23 @ 12 pm
  • Palmetto Bay (Lizandra / Yaneli / Dee) – Oct. 7 @ 12 pm
  • Pinecrest (Alexandra / Leo) – Due Sept. 30 @ 12 pm
  • N. Miami Beach (Diana / Jamie) – Due Oct. 14 @ 12 pm

Check the class sides for more information about the candidates and measures in your assigned city. In addition, here are some other resources to help you on your way:

  • City Clerk info:
  • Florida Voter Database:

The City Clerk of your assigned city will be able to confirm the full names of the candidates, and should be able to confirm the age and DOB as well. If you run into problems, however, you can also use the Florida Voter Database, which is a list of all voters names, addresses and dates of birth. If you use this, however, attempt to reach out to the candidates directly (you’ll need to do this anyhow) to confirm.

For a deeper understanding on how these stories should be written, use these real-life examples as a guide [PDF]

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