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3rd May
written by cjsorensen

Film Genre Unit

The following is a unit that looks at genre study.  It’s targeted at upper level high school students. I’ve adapted an assignment professor Beech describes on his website as the students’ final project.  My unit is designed around all the materials I might need to fully incorporate this into my classroom, so it includes PowerPoint lectures and discussion questions as separate documents as well as required readings and web resources.  I’ll include a zipped folder of all the supporting documents that you can download and use and modify if you wish as well as a PDF with all the documents collected together.

Film Genre Unit Word Document

Film Genre Unit Comple PDF

Film Genre Unit Zipped Folder

19th April
written by cjsorensen

I’ve included a link to my Powerpoint presentation on Rap Music.  In order to view it you will need the following software: Microsoft Powerpoint, Windows Media Player, and a Live Internet Connection.

Hip Hop Powerpoint

I’ve also included an HTML version here.  This one may not render correctly on all browsers.


29th March
written by cjsorensen

News Broadcast Saturday March 28, 2009 5:00pm



Teaser of top stories


Lead Story,

Breaking news of flooding in Fargo and Moorhead. News anchors lead in and then the report went live to two reporters one in Fargo and the other in Moorhead. While the reporters talked the story intercut various video and quotes about the flood. Included information about the likely crest level, preparations, and two deaths caused by the flood.


Coverage of the Mayor of Fargo talking on national news


President Obama’s comments on the flooding


Quick “Team Coverage” weather update on Fargo


Promotion for the KSTP website with further news of the flooding


Murder-Suicide story about a man who lead police on a high speed chase on highway 94 and then shot himself. Video of police tape intercut with quotes from the Sheriff’s office and live reporting in front of the police station.


Teaser of upcoming stories


Commercial Break


International News: Protesters in London march against the G29 summit


National News: Space shuttle returns from mission. Video of the shuttle landing.


National News: Spring Blizzard in Kansas. Video of cars stuck in deep snow.


Recap of flooding in Fargo


Local Weather Report:

Focus on upcoming winter storm


On The Road with Jason Davis:

Local story about special custom engraving of tombstones by local artist Jodi Wilkin



Lead off with boys high school state basketball coverage—then Wild hockey coverage


Commercial Break


Local Story about fundraising efforts for the St. Paul Library…viewers can donate through the KSTP website


Final Weather recap


Commercial Break



[Then reflect on your experience of watching television news: discuss the rhetorical appeals or strategies employed to influence an audience's beliefs and attitudes; describe the use of techniques and editing (selection versus exclusion of material) designed to influence the audience.]

In my composition and rhetoric class we define rhetorical appeals in terms of the classical ideas of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.


Since a local TV news program is not openly editorial, it tends to use ‘emotional’ and ‘credibility’ appeals rather than direct logical language to influence an audience’s beliefs and attitudes. I think the news stories I viewed used mostly formal language and spoke in fluid connected sentences that were logical and easy to follow. Noticeably absent in the broadcast was any in depth numbers, graphs, charts or other information that might be difficult to digest quickly.


Few of the stories in this newscast were overtly emotional. The coverage of the flooding in Fargo tended to focus on the possibility of a major disaster. For example, one reporter who was reporting from Moorhead behind a levee talked to the camera while pointing out a backup wall of sandbags. The fact that there was a backup wall of sandbags seemed to me a rather insignificant detail in the broader picture of the story. The shot, however, emphasizes the potential disaster and therefore punches up the emotional energy of the story.

The stories seemed to avoid controversial issues or positions. In this broadcast, at least, there was no mention of lack of preparation for flooding after the ‘97 flood.

In the story on the protesting in London, the focus was not on issues and policies but instead on numbers of protesters and the fact that things didn’t get out of hand–again, honing in on the crisis and disaster side of topics.

The last story was about donating to the public library. A ‘feel good’ story, I guess. I think, though, that this story also appeals to the station’s credibility because by broadcasting the story and calling for donations the station creates an image that they aren’t just presenting news but that they are an active member of the community. This is an idea also cultivated by channel 11 news with their KARE features which positions the station as a benevolent member of the community.


The station frequently attempted to present an authoritative and trusted persona. The anchors sit behind desks (a common enough set on most news programs) but of course desks conjure up images of academia, and intellectualism a different mood then say a set of easy chairs and couches common on afternoon chat shows.

The anchors are dressed in formal, business attire…a convention that is becoming more and more dated in work contexts but is expected in news.

The weather reporter’s credentials are specifically flashed on the screen. Weather made up a large portion of the news broadcast. In total, weather accounted for about as much time as was spent on the flooding story and was more than the ‘local flavor’ story and sports combined.

Reporters broadcast video directly from remote locations to emphasize their credibility as reporters. One story on a murder-suicide had the reporter speaking in front of the sheriff’s office, despite the fact that story cut footage of the sheriff reading a prepared statement earlier with other scenes from the crime scene. The story could have been presented just as easily from the studio. There was no ‘reason’ for the reporter to be presenting from in front of the sheriff’s office, but it presents an air of credibility since it appears the reporter is very close (at least geographically) to the story.

I also noticed that the newscast mentioned the flooding story 3 times throughout the broadcast. Although I think that primarily the news was organized so that viewers could tune in after the show had started, it also gave viewers the impression that the station was receiving a constant stream of information and that they were ‘on top’ of the story.




29th March
written by cjsorensen

Here are links to the lesson I posted about in the discussion section of Webvista…in case you don’t want to sign in over thereJ tured_articles/20020405friday.html