TV Assignment Editor Workshop (Spring 2018)

Course Overview

TV Assignment Editor Workshop (Spring 2018)
Online Group Seminar
Time Estimate:
Each week of the online course will take about four hours, including weekly live discussions and one-on-one coaching sessions.

Poynter members can save 20 - 25% on this course and all NewsU training. Learn more and join now.

This online group seminar is not currently accepting applications.

About Online Group Seminars

In an online group seminar, you will gather with other participants in a virtual space, logging in from anywhere, day or night, over the course of several weeks. A faculty member guides the group through new material, moderates discussions and provides individual feedback.

This archived Online Group Seminar was originally available on:
April 2 to April 27, 2018

For the second year, Poynter is offering training exclusively for TV assignment editors. And to make it easy to attend, we are offering the training in LIVE one-hour online segments.

We will show you how to find stories and sources online, how to use great new tools to get stories online and on social media faster and how to help others to “get” your vision for the stories you are pitching. Assignment editors also have to help newsrooms drill down to find the truth in stories. We will strengthen your critical thinking skills to help inoculate you from the noise and nonsense that is constantly coming at you.

In this seminar, Poynter's Al Tompkins will guide you through weekly readings, activities and live group discussions.

Throughout this course, you'll gain practical and creative ideas to share with your colleagues and a new energy to bring to your work.

We have broken the course into four parts. Here's a quick breakdown of what we will cover:

Open House: Monday, April 2 at 2 p.m. Eastern

Part 1 (April 3): Story motivators and finding focus

  • Eight key motivators that make great stories. When you develop story ideas, these motivators should shape your pitch.
  • Finding Focus: Once you find a motivator, hone the pitch and help others to learn this skill as well. It will keep you from chasing every idea and will help producers know what to tease and promote.

Part 2 (April 10): Where to go to mine stories others miss

  • Learn how to mine campaign-spending reports, investigate corporations using SEC data, investigate airlines, OSHA, EPA, property records, government salaries, contracts and more.
  • We will also explore FOIA laws and show you the data trails that we all leave behind and journalists can use to find information about practically anybody.

Part 3 (April 17): Jaw-droppingly cool web tools

As an assignment editor, you often find yourself having to coach others to help them think of new ways to find and tell stories. You will learn how you can:

  • Capture videos from your computer screen and use you mobile phone to produce edited videos in breaking news. You can become invaluable to your online and social media team.
  • Create interactive maps and use Twitter’s deep search tools.
  • Mine metadata on photos and discover their origin.
  • Best of all, nearly all of these tools are free.

Part 4 (April 24): The power of critical thinking

Assignment editors are one of the newsroom’s key lines of defense for testing the truth of what we are reporting. Learn four key questions AEs should ask about every story. Critical thinking will force you to push beyond announcements and events to discover deeper more meaningful stories--the kind of journalism that sets you apart from the pack.

Each week you'll join live discussions. Because we know that “news happens” especially for assignment editors, we will record each segment to watch later--or any many times as you want.

What Will I Learn:
  • How to find stories that others miss
  • How to find a focus for your story
  • How to use new Web tools to enhance your storytelling
  • How to think critically about stories
Who should take this course:

TV assignment editors

Course Instructor:

Al Tompkins

Al Tompkins is The Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcasting and online. He has taught thousands of journalists, journalism students and educators in newsrooms around the world. His teaching focused on writing, reporting, storytelling, ethics, critical thinking, photojournalism, social media and online journalism.

Tompkins has taught television news producers, reporters, photojournalists and managers in his workshops in 49 states, Canada, Egypt, Ecuador, Denmark, Cayman, Iceland and South Africa. He has taught and coached print newsrooms in the U.S. and abroad how to build interactive news websites, how to use video more effectively online and how to manage ethical issues that arise online.

Al is an FAA licensed drone pilot and has organized and lead drone journalism workshops around America that produced more than 325 graduates. He co-authored the drone ethics guide.

Tompkins is the author of the book “Aim For The Heart: Write, Shoot, Report, Produce for TV and Online,” which is being used by more than 125 universities as their main broadcast writing, reporting and ethics textbook.

He co-authored four editions of the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation’s “Newsroom Ethics” workbook. In 1998, Tompkins joined Poynter’s faculty from his job as news director at WSMV-TV in Nashville, Tenn. For 24 years, he worked as a photojournalist, reporter, producer, anchor, assistant news director, special projects/investigations director, documentary producer and news director.

Awards: During his two and a half decades as a journalist, and nearly two decades as a teacher at Poynter, Tompkins has been awarded many of journalism's highest honors.

Tompkins won the National Emmy, the Peabody Award (group award), the Japan Prize, the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel for Court Reporting, seven National Headliner Awards, two Iris Awards and the Robert F. Kennedy Award. Tompkins was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame and in 2008 was awarded The Governor’s Award, the highest honor given by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He has also been honored by the National Press Photographers Association and the Radio and Television News Foundation for contributions to journalism and journalism education.

Al is a juror for the Scripps Howard National Journalism Awards and served as a final juror on the duPont-Columbia Awards, and the Investigative Reporter and Editor awards.

Al earned a Master's Degree in Digital Journalism and Design from the University of South Florida and a B.A. degree in journalism from Western Kentucky University.

Consulting and Teaching in Newsrooms:

Among the hundreds of clients for whom Tompkins taught and/or consulted are: Harvard University Nieman Foundation, ABC Owned and Operated Stations, Telemundo Television Stations; Meredith Television Stations; Scripps Howard Television, NBC owned and operation stations Promotions Directors; Stations; Hearst Argyle Television Stations; Gannett Television Stations; Griffin Communications; NBC Owned and Operated Stations; New York Times Television Stations; Cox Television; Cox Cable, Cox Washington DC Bureau, RUV TV (Iceland), Belo Television Stations; Freedom Newspapers of Florida, Freedom Newspapers of North Carolina, The Raleigh News & Observer, Shurz Broadcast stations, Radio and Television News Directors Association; RTNDA Canada; Radio and Television News Directors Foundation; The Ford Foundation; Hampton University, Kings University, Marymount University, Scranton University, University of Kentucky, University of South Florida, Belmont University, Western Kentucky University, Middle Tennessee State University, The Sacramento Bee; The Scholastic Journalism Association; Global TV Calgary; Global TV Edmonton Ca, CBC Toronto, CBC Calgary, CBC Regina, CTV Toronto, Canada AM; Alabama Broadcasters Association; Arkansas Broadcasters Association; Oklahoma Broadcasters Association; Hawaii Association of Broadcasters; Texas Association of Broadcasters; Ohio AP Broadcasters Association; Pennsylvania Broadcasters Association; Illinois Broadcasters Association; Washington State Broadcasters Association; Georgia Broadcasters Association; Tennessee Broadcasters Association; Louisiana Broadcasters Association; New York State Broadcasters Association; West Virginia Broadcasters Association; Missouri Broadcasters Association; Virginia Broadcasters Association; North Carolina Broadcasters Association; South Carolina Association of Broadcasters; Wisconsin Broadcasters Association; Iowa Broadcasters Association; Oregon Broadcasters, North Carolina Press Association, Alaska Broadcasters Association, Montana SPJ, New Mexico Broadcasters Association; Illinois Press Association, North Carolina Press Association; Hoosier Press Association National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences — NATAS (Pennsylvania); PBS-Nightly Business Report, NATAS(Washington DC); NATAS (Miami); WMC-TV; WSB-TV;KXAS-TV; KHOU-TV; WNEM-TV; KPHO-TV; WEWS-TV; WPTV-TV; WESH-TV; WKMG-TV; WTVW-TV; WPBF-TV; WHO-TV; KWTV-TV; WZZM-TV; WNEP-TV; WTKR-TV; KTHV-TV; KCTV-TV; WGAL; WTVF; WSBT; Bay News 9; News 8 Austin; RNews, WTSP; KTHV; KVUE; WHO-TV, RUV-TV Iceland, WNBC, KCBS, WCBS, WMAQ, WBBM, WFOR, WBZ and WTVT.