Classes

Please note: The classes listed here represent recent offerings at the Journalism School. These include M.S., M.S. in Data Journalism and M.A. courses. Choices vary each semester depending on faculty availability and other considerations. Classes described now may change or be dropped to make room for new additions. We cannot promise that students will gain a seat in any specific class.

M.A. Science Spring Seminar

The spring semester focuses on evolution and genetics, neuroscience, public health and medicine. Students often travel to see fossils in situ and at the American Museum of Natural History, and they learn about mass extinction events and how the movements of the cosmos are reflected in sediments on Earth. They learn how to take apart medical studies and flex the statistics they have learned in Evidence & Inference in the fall. They also discuss some of the newest developments in epigenetics and in neuroscience. Recent spring lecturers have included paleontologist Paul Olsen, neuroscientist Stuart Firestein, animal behaviorist Diana Reiss, medical historian David Rosner and sociologist Alondra Nelson. 

 

M.S. Essentials: Business

The journalism business is in a period of historic flux. Many legacy models are eroding, while nascent business models show promise but often have not yet achieved stability or profitability. This is the world in which you will work, and it is both exciting and daunting.

Multiple instructors teach sections of this class.

 

To better prepare you for that world, we require M.S. students to take this course, as part of the Friday core that also includes law, ethics and history. We want you to understand the challenges, opportunities and vicissitudes of the journalism business, not just for your own career development, but also because we want you to be partners and innovators in determining new ways to secure the future of journalism. We want to get beyond the sound bites and explore the ways journalism could be funded during the course of your careers. We also hope you will understand more from this course about how businesspeople make decisions, which is important in whatever line of journalism you pursue. It is no longer acceptable for journalists to ignore the economics of their profession or leave the economic decisions entirely to the business folks.

M.S. Essentials: Ethics

This class is intended to equip every student with confidence about how to be an ethical journalist. Some of that will involve discussing and defining certain core rules and principles that every Journalism School graduate should understand and try to follow, while aspiring to professionalism. More of the class, however, will involve learning to recognize repetitious dilemmas in journalism that have no absolute solutions but must be reexamined case by case, each in its own context. Just as most newsrooms resolve the most difficult ethical dilemmas through transparent, collaborative discussion, our class will mainly turn on open discussion about shared readings that highlight the range of ethical issues that are most important and common to journalism. 

Multiple instructors teach sections of this class.

M.S. Essentials: History

Drawing on historical examples of the best work of print, broadcast and digital journalists – from the editorialist to the war correspondent, from the photojournalist to the New Journalist, from the muckraker to the blogger – this class explores the development of the values, practices, ethical standards, technological developments and social roles that cluster around the institution of journalism. The focus is on the evolution of the role and work of the American reporter within the context of global developments.

Multiple instructors teach sections of this class.

M.S. Essentials: Law

This course is designed to acquaint students with the basic protections and restrictions of the law as they apply to the media. Significant court cases and fundamental legal rules will be explored in the context of political and historical realities, and in terms of journalistic standards and practices; contemporary media law issues will also be focused on. Among the issues that will be examined are libel, invasion of privacy, prior restraints, newsgathering and newsgathering torts, copyright and the reporter’s privilege.

Multiple instructors teach sections of this class.

Magazine Writing

Magazine journalism presents an opportunity to break out of the conventions of newspaperese and find one’s voice. But writing for magazines also involves rules and challenges – not the least of which is figuring out how to position yourself in an uncertain field. In this course, we’ll discuss different forms of magazine writing and focus especially on substantive general-interest publications like The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New York Times Magazine – as well as their websites. We’ll examine the types of proposals that appeal to editors, ways of getting in the door and some useful frameworks for structuring longer magazine pieces. We’ll work on developing or refining a more natural and conversational writing style by reading articles by accomplished writers and workshopping student pieces. In addition to weekly assignments involving the study of individual magazines, students will practice pitching and writing short pieces. At the end of the course, each student will have produced a suitable magazine article of 2,500 to 3,000 words.

Managing the 21st-Century Newsroom

The news business is going through a period of fundamental and irrevocable change. It is vital that journalists understand both the core values and ethics of our industry as well as essential digital skills to succeed.

But news managers – or journalists who aspire to management – must know all of that and more. They need to deal with the basic business principles that have long governed the media world, along with newer concepts like audience-building and technology adaptation.

This class is for those students – that is, those of you who want to run the show, rather than be run by someone else.

 

The course follows naturally from the half-semester Business of Journalism fall class, though that is not a prerequisite as some part-time M.S. students, M.A. or outside students might not have taken it. This class builds in much more detail around revenue and expenses, strategy and learning how to manage change, diversity and crises.

Our goal is to help you understand media firms – those we know of and those that don’t yet exist, or those that you may create – and to appreciate how business imperatives intersect closely with the kind of journalism you and your colleagues can expect to do.

Our class will also give you background to do better journalism about business, including essentials like how to read balance sheets and income statements. It does not provide the level of detail about business and economics coverage as some other seminars.

Students will be expected to prepare each week for class and will do two major assignments. The first is a group project in which you will prepare a presentation, as if to a CEO or a group of venture capital investors, on an important trend affecting the news business. The second is an individual project: a narratively driven story that could appear on the cover of Fortune magazine, the front page of the WSJ or the feature slot on CNBC, describing how a media business is faring. Expect a great deal of feedback on the first project and a similar amount of editing on the second.

Multi-Platform Design & Storytelling

Readers get their news from multiple platforms and today’s journalists must therefore learn to tell stories for and across these platforms. The industry is seeking qualified mobile editors. This course will focus on design (visual presentation) and storytelling (story structures and genres) for mobile, tablet, web and print. It will also cover issues of technology, advertising and other revenue strategies. Students will gain hands-on experience designing story prototypes for the major platforms, taking into account the unique characteristics of each. Emphasis will be on mobile platforms. The course will also include lectures by the instructor and guest speakers, readings and critical writing assignments on contemporary news organizations’ offerings. The final project will involve a single topic developed through a multimedia story. The course includes a basic Design Bootcamp component.

Multimedia Storytelling: Data, Design and Animation

This intensive production course covers the fundamentals of using data, design and animation to tell deeply-reported, compelling stories. Students will learn how to use industry-standard multimedia production tools, as well as advanced animation storytelling techniques. Students will be taught how to source data, storyboard, design, produce, and animate journalistic stories. Several short- and long-form projects will guide students through the process of conceptualizing, visualizing and producing animated stories.

Multimedia Storytelling: Data, Design and Animation combines data sourcing, motion design and video production exploring the powerful potential of digital visualization methods for journalism. Students will be taught how to research, report, source data, storyboard, design, produce, edit and animate in-depth journalistic video content to acquire advanced industry-standard storytelling techniques.

Narrative News Features

This course will explore a versatile, durable, lively and evolving approach to news writing. Using writing exercises and story assignments, students will develop skills in the elements of narrative writing – imagery, theme, characters and dialogue, even with tight word counts. The news feature gives journalists a vehicle for examining a topic or event through firsthand accounts, background facts and context. It is widely used in publications and online. Assignments will range in length from 500 words to 1,200 words. The objective is to produce sparkling news features that are sharply and tightly written; and fit these characteristics outlined a few years ago by Roy Peter Clark: “You can read it, if you want to, in a single sitting on the day the story was published. You can read a short one in five minutes and a long one in 15 minutes. It is not a news story but can be inspired by the news. It has, at its heart, human interest. It illuminates lives lived in our times.”

Narrative Writing

All of the best stories in journalism, whether as short as a column or as long as a book, share the same basic narrative principles. The aim of this course is to master those principles, to study them in the work of others and apply them to your own. The first class sessions are spent in an overview of the narrative form, discussing how to recognize, report, structure and write stories that move confidently through time, place, character and event. The remaining weeks proceed through a series of more specific narrative strategies and tactics: using dialogue, choosing and depicting characters, compressing and expanding time, managing transitions, providing historical context, establishing a voice. Beyond the regular readings, the main requirement is to find one good story idea and then write it and rewrite it, as a short narrative first (800 words) and then as longer one (2,500-3,000), gradually working your way deeper into the narrative form as the semester progresses.

Narrative Writing

The class is built around a single, core question: How can I tell a true story that will make readers keep asking, "What happened next?"

To answer that question we'll be spending a lot of time telling stories – small stories that will lead to one, big, ambitious and compelling story whose subject is one that you feel you must write about.

The best told stories are those writers need to tell, stories that, as author Norman Maclean put it, allow writers to discover and tell something about themselves. The thrill of discovery happens in the reporting, which is the central task of journalism. The telling begins with the framing of the question at the heart of that story, which leads a writer deciding how best to tell the tale.

There are all sorts of ways to tell stories and in this class, form is not a virtue. Curiosity is because curiosity, the need to know, fuels the reporting that great stories are built upon.

Count on weekly writing assignments, as well as reading, talking about what makes stories work and what makes them just miss.

Everyone comes to the school loving to hear stories, and often, very much liking to tell them. This class is designed to help you find ways to tell reported stories that readers cannot resist.

Narrative Writing

All of the best stories in journalism, whether as short as a column or as long as a book, share the same basic narrative principles. The aim of this course is to master those principles, to study them in the work of others and to apply them to your own. The first few sessions are spent in an overview of the narrative form, discussing how to recognize, report, structure and write stories that move confidently through time, place and character. The remaining weeks proceed through a series of more specific technical issues using dialogue, choosing and depicting characters, compressing and expanding time, managing transitions, providing historical context and establishing a voice.

Narrative Writing: The Rise and Fall Story

Like the profile, the rise-and-fall story is a durably popular genre of magazine and newspaper writing, as well as magazine broadcast journalism and documentary filmmaking. This course will teach you how to identify, report and write with verve such a time-honored narrative. The genre’s typical story arc is as old as Greek and Elizabethan tragedy. It involves, usually, a woman or man in public life who enjoys success, succumbs to hubris and is laid low. In modern times, such a reader-friendly story might evolve out of a murder trial, an insider trading indictment, a high-flying Silicon Valley bankruptcy or the firing of the first female editor of The New York Times. We will break down and diagram magazine-length examples of the genre such as Jim Stewart’s recent New Yorker epic on the collapse of one of the world’s largest law firms. We will learn how to map out a story’s chronology; how to choose a lead and then drive toward a narrative climax; and how to interview and report from multiple sources so as to serve writing that is brisk, well-ordered, accessible, character-driven and enlivened by specific scenes and dialogue. Each student will pitch a rise-and-fall story of 2,500-3,000 words that can be reported in the time available and will draft and redraft as we learn and discuss the form.

Off the News

Story ideas can spring straight from the brows of editors but the best ones tend to emerge from two faithful sources – a well-covered beat or from the news itself. This course is about that latter category – reporting off the news, on deadline.

In this class, we will organize our reporting to advance the story as quickly as we can and publish the edited results on The Brooklyn Ink website.

What kind of things? They might be big or small, expected or unexpected, global or local. Maybe a gang shooting in Brooklyn – who are these people and what is the backdrop? Maybe a presidential election in Pakistan – what questions does this raise in our Pakistani neighborhoods? Maybe the consumer confidence number takes a jump: How can we localize that? Maybe a school closes or a restaurant gets a C from the health department or another hurricane is approaching or a politician unexpectedly endorses the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy. Or…

Much of this class will be about brainstorming – sometimes together, sometimes individually – around two issues: What news of the day raises the kind of questions that The Brooklyn Ink wants to address? And, once we have our story ideas, how do we go about adding context and new facts via our own original reporting, plus Web and library research? We will work on small group projects and individual stories, with rigorous editing. We will hear from a couple of guests who are good at this kind of reporting, too.

Photojournalism I

This course covers the basics of photojournalism, including DSLR camera operation, workflow, post production, captioning and keywording using Adobe software. Students will have weekly assignments photographing and editing news, portrait and multi-picture feature stories.   Fieldwork will be supported by discussions of contemporary examples of photojournalism and the ethical and legal issues of visual reporting.  Students will leave the class able to identify visual opportunities in the field, and be equipped to shoot single image and multi picture slideshows for print and internet publications.  Note: There is a $50 equipment fee associated with this class for students planning to use our equipment. Students who bring their own dSLRs and lenses will not be charged this fee.\\ Multiple instructors teach sections of this class.

Photojournalism II (Offered in the fall only)

This course assumes basic knowledge of DSLR camera operation and basic knowledge of Adobe photo processing software.  Students will learn how to make multi image photo essays incorporating techniques of reportage, still-life and portrait photography.  Fieldwork will be supported by discussions of contemporary examples of photojournalism and the ethical and legal issues of visual reporting. Students will learn best archiving practices, advanced Adobe software, and business and pricing standards including day rates, usage fees, and copyright.  Students will leave the class able to identify visual opportunities in the field, and be equipped to produce single image and multi picture slideshows for print and internet publications.

Note: There is a $50 equipment fee associated with this class for students planning to use our equipment.  Students who bring their own dSLRs and lenses will not be charged this fee.

Multiple instructors teach sections of this class.

Radio Workshop

This course is intended to provide mastery of the most important skills needed in a high-quality radio news organization. Students develop advanced radio writing and production techniques through the broadcast of a weekly radio news program, Uptown Radio News. The program is webcast live every Friday at 4 p.m. and is also available as an on-demand podcast. The class functions as a working newsroom where students learn the full range of radio reporting and writing techniques, including newscasts, spot news, feature stories, creative commentary and longer narrative pieces using documentary methods. On the production side, students rotate through roles such as executive producer, managing editor, senior producer and various technical positions to ensure a timely broadcast that offers high value to its listeners. The course develops student’s writing and reporting skills (irrespective of media) by emphasizing descriptive writing, narrative and scene-building techniques, and long-form documentary techniques. There are no prerequisites for this course.

 

Reporting

In this core class, which begins in August and continues through the end of October, you'll explore the methods journalists use to gather and evaluate information. You'll learn how to think and behave as a journalist, how to conceive of journalistic story assignments, and how to report them quickly and accurately on deadline. You’ll learn how to gather original information first-hand and to combine it with contextual information that can be found online and elsewhere. You will be taught how to ensure that a story is true, both in the sense of getting the facts right and also by stating the implications fairly.

You’ll also get some basic training in digital technologies such as mobile photo, video and audio that are essential parts of a modern journalist’s toolkit, and you’ll begin using them in service of journalism, while thinking about ways to use social media to engage an audience for your work. 

Multiple instructors teach sections of this class.

Reporting and Writing Profiles

There’s a reason one of the most successful magazines launched in the past 40 years is called People. You’ll learn and practice the specialized interviewing, reporting and writing skills used to portray individuals. We’ll read and discuss some of the best classic and contemporary profiles, of subjects from Ty Cobb to a sex-toys saleswoman. We’ll talk a lot about structure. I’ll take a machete (at first) or a scalpel (later on) to every sentence you write. Some gifted current practitioners will tell us how they do it. I’ll schedule two to three individual conferences with each student to review your stories. We’ll discover how to leverage readers’ intrinsic interest in other people to inform them about things they think they don’t want to know.

Reporting I

In this introductory reporting course, each student will be assigned a beat and will be expected to produce news stories on deadline. Students will learn to think like reporters and to practice the core skills of the trade: developing sources, conducting interviews, structuring a story, writing clearly, and getting the facts right. As data journalists, they will also seek out and analyze data, both to deepen their reporting and to identify promising leads. In this way, the tools and techniques learned during the summer will be immediately applicable as data students begin to develop a journalistic mindset and the capacity to find and produce journalistic stories.

Reporting II

Students will continue to will learn how to apply their data and computational skills to real-world journalism. They will hone their ability to construct a narrative from both quantitative and qualitative sources, how to think critically, how to report under deadline and how to document so that others can replicate and critique their work.

Short Doc Storytelling

This workshop is for students with shooting and editing experience who want to hone their storytelling skills, experiment with new styles and explore the expanding landscape of video. You will produce three short documentaries (3-10 minutes long) over the course of the semester culminating in a final project and public screening.

This year, we will be including an extra, two-day After Effects training session to introduce you to the sophisticated graphics animation that is becoming a staple in the video world.

Our emphasis is on substantive reporting and compelling storytelling of all kinds. We will encourage and support first-person, on-camera, non-narration or text-based approaches. The goal is to produce videos suitable for online, broadcast, cable or social media platforms (and, of course, viewing at the Career Fair.)

In class, we will focus on story structure, interview techniques, lighting, editing, graphics and pitching your stories and yourself to media outlets. Guest workshops will be conducted by professionals from Vox, Quartz and 60 Minutes, as well as master classes from award-winning documentarians like Lynn Novick (Vietnam.)

Students in previous classes have produced assignments that have been posted on Slate, Channel Thirteen’s METRO FOCUS, Frontline, the Daily Beast, and in the J School’s 100th anniversary celebrations.

Sports Reporting

Sports occupies a special place in American society. Television props up its financial investment by giving sporting events – professional, college and high school – staggering blocks of time every day; many newspapers keep readers by devoting huge percentages of their daily news holes to local, national and international coverage. Sports talk radio and countless internet sites dissect every play, every individual and every move, often adding to the stifling pressure on athletes, coaches, owners and administrators. Sport has evolved into a complex part of American life that requires thinking, well-trained, well-read and fundamentally sound journalists. A sports journalist must be able to quickly and clearly tell readers and viewers what is happening on the field, on the court or on the track; and the modern sports journalist must have a solid background on issues as diverse as labor, medicine, performance-enhancing drugs, stadium financing, race, Title IX, gender, masculinity, youth sports – and the daily police blotter. A sports journalist must understand the fascinating history of this world, as well as social media and emerging trends, and must continue the tradition of adding to some of the best writing, reporting and commentary in journalism. This course will address all of these matters with coverage of local professional and college games, feature pieces, columns, issue-oriented takeouts and investigative stories dictated by the news.