Classes | Columbia Journalism School

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.

Book Writing

This seminar teaches students to prepare a book proposal, including an overview essay and a sample chapter, both at least 4,000 words long. Each student must enter the class with sufficient material from elsewhere or an idea that can be researched in the New York area. Students will not be permitted to use their Master’s Project for this seminar. Coursework ranges from intensive study of literary nonfiction and journalistic fiction, with related writing assignments on a weekly basis, to instruction in the techniques of reporting, writing extended narrative and producing a book proposal. Guest speakers from the publishing industry appear frequently. Enrollment is limited with the approval of the instructor. Interested students should attend the information session where the application process will be discussed.

Business and Economic Reporting

Money and power go hand-in-hand, never more so than now. A basic understanding of business and economics can help students in any line of journalism, from sports to fashion, from politics to investigations that follow the money trail. This seminar examines the economy and financial markets and gives students the tools to better understand and write about them. We will look at globalization and income inequality; Trump’s tariff wars; andstock and bond markets. We’ll learn how to read annual reports and financial statements and get a better understanding of financial regulations. By the end of the semester, students should be comfortable when faced with numbers and learn how stories can be strengthened when a financial angle is pursued. Students will read current and historic business stories, with an eye towards seeing what makes them stand out. Assignments will include one semester-long project and several shorter, deadline stories. Several class sessions will include guest speakers from major business and general-interest news organizations.

China Seminar

In the years and decades ahead, China will powerfully shape the world both in ways that are already becoming evident and in others as yet still unexpected. If you are interested in global reporting, wherever you come from and whatever region of the world you wish to report on, having a nuanced grasp of a fast-changing and dynamic China will be indispensable to writing smartly about international affairs.

This course aims to deepen students' understanding of China and sharpen the ways we think and write about the country as journalists. The seminar-style class involves wide and eclectic readings about China, which may include works of reportage, political science, history, sociology, business and economics and culture. Guest speakers will also be drawn from a range of areas of expertise and background. The course requires that students read current coverage of China from a variety of leading Western and (in translation) Chinese media. A portion of each class will be set aside for a running comparative examination of this coverage.

Written assignments will consist of off-the-news, deeply and collaboratively reported articles by students on current events, with a rich variety of voices drawn from both China and abroad. Students should expect to receive regular, careful editing of their work, along with feedback on writing and reporting.

Students who have little or no past exposure to China are welcome, as are students with prior experience in China and of course Chinese students, as well. Whatever your background there will be plenty to stimulate and engage you.

City Newsroom

The students in City Newsroom will cover all of New York City. They’ll operate, manage, edit, and contribute to an award-winning live news site: http://NYCityLens.com/. The course is set up to give students hands-on experience running a news site, and to hone their storytelling skills in pitching, reporting and producing ambitious stories in all formats. Students will cover breaking news, develop features, dig into deeper stories, create digital graphics, and shoot and edit videos. Its goal: to let students cover stories in the medium best suited to tell a particular story. We will focus on all kinds of New York City stories, including breaking news, crime and justice, culture and art, New York’s immigrant population, and politics and policy. Students will pitch stories every week, perfecting their pitching skills. We expect everyone in the newsroom to produce a specific number of stories: eight print stories or five videos or a to-be-determined combination of these. Each student, as part of a team, will also be responsible for covering breaking news for an assigned number of weeks. In addition, students will have the option to work as a team to produce a special report

Computational Journalism

This course unpacks the ways in which data, code and algorithms are reshaping systems of power in the world, training students to be better reporters and to hold the people and institutions behind these systems accountable. This critical view is made possible through rigorous training in data and computing, preparing students to use these tools in an expanded reporting practice that finds and tells new kinds of stories. Our main programming language for the class willl be Python. Each week, students will read and analyze examples of data and computing in service of journalism; and each week we will dig deeper into the technical skills behind such stories with small coding assignments that mix story and technology. The course will end with a final project, an "act of journalism," that might be a story, a data visualization or a new data set or algorithm.

The course is not simply introducing a new web framework for pulling data from a PDF, or a even a new programming language. Instead, we aspire to a rich kind of literacy around data and computing. By “literacy” we mean a trio of concepts – a functional literacy that prepares students to be creative with data and computing; a critical literacy that encourages students to think about data and computing as cultural artifacts; and a rhetorical literacy that highlights the persuasive power inherent in any technology and that casts system design as a social, rather than a purely technical, act. The course will add a uniquely journalistic voice, one that responds to the needs and talents of reporters and helps them find and tell stories in new ways.

Our goals in teaching this course are simple: 1) provide journalists with hands-on experience collecting, processing and analyzing data, 2) demystify the tools and methods behind computing, 3) supply sufficient background so that students might become creators of new technologies, transitioning from tool users to tool makers, and, perhaps most importantly, 4) teach students how to use data and computing, as both sources for finding stories, as well as platforms for telling new kinds of stories.

As mentioned above, our main programming language will be Python, however, we assume NO PRIOR CODING OR DATA KNOWLEDGE. All we ask is that you bring the same journalistic curiosity you have learned in the first half of the program to these new ways of storytelling. We'll take care of the rest.

Covering American Politics

The purpose of this course is to equip students to cover American politics and elections in original, lively and sophisticated ways. The course will combine instruction in the subject matter and structure of American politics with workshops on specialized reporting and writing methods. We will enrich our knowledge by studying the history of populism; the quasi-science of public opinion polling; shifts in the Electoral College during recent presidential elections; and voter issues such as gun violence and inequality. At the same time, we will workshop political reporting and storytelling methods, such as the art of the political profile; how to interview politicians effectively; and how to investigate candidates’ biographies.

We intend to take advantage of the 2020 election season, which should be in full chaos throughout our spring course, to plug ourselves directly into the challenges of reporting on President Trump, his Democratic opposition and the country’s polarized electorate during a season of heightened excitement. We will recruit guest speakers from the front lines of campaign reporting and from inside political campaigns. Our assignments will ask students to plunge into the fray themselves.

With some exceptions, classes will be divided into two parts: A session on some aspect of the substance of American politics, followed by a workshop on some aspect of political reporting or storytelling. In addition to preparing for and sometimes leading workshop sessions, each student will complete three assignments: 1) A spot story of a campaign event or rally, written on deadline; 2) an interview with a current candidate, edited into a lively Q&A; and 3) in pairs, an enterprise story of at least 2000 words profiling an intriguing individual or institution in one of the counties of Pennsylvania that voted twice for President Obama in 2008 and 2012; then voted for President Trump in 2016; and that are now hotly prized in the 2020 cycle.

Covering Education & Data Reporting

The course combines diving into the rich landscape of education reporting and writing with in-depth data training in tandem with Brown Institute instructors. Each student will embed for the semester inside a New York City public middle, elementary or high school, cultivating sources, ideas, and knowledge. Seminar time will be devoted to history, ethics, ideas and debate with experts and working reporters in this expansive beat that can encompass policy, culture, inequity, youth justice and the science of learning, for starters. Students will write news, narrative features, an original long form story, as well as complete an ambitious data-focused group project on a topic to be decided. Data instructors will work directly with the class in the last half of the semester. NO PRIOR DATA KNOWLEDGE NECESSARY.

The aim is to publish on our class websites as well as with our partner news organizations: NYC Chalkbeat, the New York Daily News,and others.

Students in the course may qualify for a paid internship for the Hechinger Report. 

Covering Issues of Gender and Sexuality

Take a look at the homepage of any major American daily almost any day, and you’ll find headlines like: “Miscarrying at Work: The Physical Toll of Pregnancy Discrimination” or “#WontBeErased: Transgender People and Allies Mobilize Against Trump Administration Proposal.” We are living in times in which issues of gender and sexuality are contentious matters that need clear and sober journalistic coverage. In this course, students will examine historical and theoretical frameworks for understanding gender and sexuality and will analyze how media practices shape public perception. They will engage in discussion with journalists covering these issues. And they will learn how to become sensitive, thorough, and contextual reporters on these topics, developing skills and insights that can inform and improve coverage of any beat.

Covering Race

This course is an examination of one of the most salient themes in American life and the ways in which it informs our contemporary realities as well as its implications for media and reporting. Thus a grounding in race is a key perspective for the journalist writing in or about the United States. Objective: The student will gain greater insight into the central debates and formative influence of race in American society and its implications for reportage and media discussion of the subject.

Covering Religion

Covering Religion aims at preparing students to write about religion with depth, sensitivity and sophistication. This year, the seminar will focus on the diversity of religious faiths found in the American South. Thanks to a generous grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation, the course will include a weeklong study-tour of the region at no cost to students. The study-tour will take place over spring break.In addition to reporting and writing assignments, each student will make an oral presentation in class about the coverage of his or her faith beat. While still in New York, students will select and begin to report on the stories that they want to cover while traveling. Upon their return, students will write and produce the stories that they worked on while traveling. This course is open by application only to all MS students, both part-time and full-time.

Follow the covering religion blog to learn about the places where we've traveled.

Food Writing

The food beat is a varied one that includes stories about culture and family, public policy, health and science, immigration, business, and climate and sustainability. This course introduces you to the myriad ways you can report on what we eat, whether it's a story on the sudden influx of decent tortillas in a neighborhood full of recent immigrants or a feature on a farmer who's growing what she hopes will be the next kale, a trendy vegetable that helps her to sustain her business.

For the first time, we will collaborate this year on a project that we plan to publish in The New Food Economy, the non-profit digital newsroom where Prof. Stabiner is an editor. NFE staff members, including managing editor Jesse Hirsch and senior editors and specialists in audience engagement and production, will be part of the process.

Food journalism requires vigorous reporting and offers the opportunity for observational work; it supports the feature writer as well as the investigative or data-driven journalist. The best work also gets published on our class website, linked below, including a class project called New York Sits Down to Dinner, a themed look at the evening meal. Last year's project told the stories of NYC's restaurant workers, and the year before that we tackled food insecurity in a city where one in five people isn't sure where dinner's coming from. We've also found out what dinner means for people with iconic jobs; a Broadway dancer, a carriage driver, a cabbie, and more. Students will contribute to What We Savor, a collection of first-person essays about food that nourishes both body and soul because it evokes strong personal memories.

Gender and Migration

The symbol of the country’s immigration story stands in New York Harbor, surrounded by modern-day examples of resilience. The Southern Border may be the epicenter of a migration crisis reverberating throughout the world, but New York is the place to report on its effects. In this course, students will examine national and international issues through the prism of local reporting. 

Women and children have been the most vulnerable under the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration, from the newest restrictions on asylum laws to family separation, to the drastic reduction of refugees in the coming year. We will examine the push and pull factors for migration, not only from Central America, but from Africa, the Middle East and Asia, which have led to a record number of 26 million refugees today. 

In New York, advocacy groups and lawyers are uniting to help undocumented youth and women at risk, and local religious communities are assisting the resettlement of refugee families. Guest speakers from these groups — as well as city officials — will speak to the students and help them form a network of sources. At the beginning, students will choose a specific local beat and track developments weekly. The weekly lectures will focus on these topics, so that all students can build on their areas of expertise. During the semester, students will publish at least one story in cooperation with Documented, a leading immigration website publishing New York-focused news. By tackling local angles of national issues, reporters can break news that can ultimately lead to policy change in Washington: a rarity in these times. 

Journalism is ultimately about people. For immigration reporters, finding and telling those compelling stories, however, can be complicated by politics, language and fear. Students will learn how to report with sensitivity and nuance, and yet not be swayed by sentiment. That means knowing the laws and history of immigration policy from the Chinese Exclusion Act to Migration Protection Protocols, and also adhering to ethical guidelines amid a polarized climate for media.

Information Warfare Reporting: How to Report in a Hostile Information Environment

The convergence of all types of information into digital formats has created a new and confusing information landscape for both consumers and practitioners. Fake news, campaigns aimed at everything from healthcare (via the anti-vax movement), through to influencing government and radicalizing populations to acts of violence or terrorism are all now carried put through the same vectors used to carry mainstream journalism and entertainment. Journalists are inevitably on the frontlines on this seismic change in how information can be used to leverage power and affect the real world. Understanding how to report this environment is an emerging and increasingly important beat.

The ease with which large social media, search and other data aggregation platforms allow for publishing and dissemination of all types of content has created great opportunities and produced unanticipated threats. Sources of news, advertising, propaganda, and many other types of content are often difficult to distinguish from each other and easy to disseminate through frictionless sharing. The fluid nature of technology platforms means that information or content targeted at individuals for a particular outcome will shapeshift between formats and techniques. Understanding the dynamics of platforms, how the targeting of messages works, how to detect the provenance of sources are all now required skills for journalists.

Journalists have an important role in investigating this landscape as a new type of media beat, of explaining the levers of influence and harm to their audiences and holding to account the individuals, companies and governments who misuse this power. The skills needed to parse the information environment, weigh influence campaigns and the often covert use of social platforms and messaging systems will be increasingly important in many areas of reporting. The journalistic role inevitably makes reporters and their sources targets for online harassment, doxxing and deliberate campaigns to either influence or silence them. Journalists must take into account threats, how to model them and how to protect themselves, their work and their sources from these types of attacks.

This course is intended to give students the critical framework for examining the roots and dynamics of the technical changes that have created the information crisis, and the technical skills for conducting their own investigations and reporting into the problem. The format will be a mixture of lectures and skills classes, using the lens of the 2020 election cycle. Student evaluation will depend on weekly assignments, classroom participation and the presentation of a final group or individual project.

International Newsroom

The course begins with an examination of what is news and how the definition of news and the ways in which it is reported can change as you cross geographical and cultural borders. Class discussions and assignments cover global press freedom challenges, trends in international journalism and often reflect emerging news. Guests may include veteran foreign correspondents, practitioners of “the new global journalism,” such as citizen reporting projects or bloggers from countries where mainstream media face severe restrictions. Each student pitches, reports and writes several stories on international topics and, in most years, works on a class-wide reporting project. Projects have included studies of state-funded global TV channels, of western media reporting on chemical weapons use in Syria and of digital technology’s impact on international reporting. For project examples done in past years by International Newsroom, see Global Media Wars, The New Global Journalism and Global Newsroom.

International Newsroom: Human Rights Reporting

Journalists covering international and national social justice issues regularly encounter claims of human rights violations. The decades old human rights movement evolved from the scorched earth of the World Wars, when millions of refugees and survivors of genocide demanded justice. Current world crises from the Syrian Civil War to climate change to the persistent attacks on the rights of women have led to more demands for human rights. Nations seldom sanction themselves for violating the rights of citizens and refugees, and the international bodies formed to address human rights violations are often accurately described as toothless. In this course, we will look at human rights from a journalist’s perspective, and we will cover the efforts of the United Nations, NGOs, activists and human rights organizations to ensure human rights for all individuals. We will look at the history and evolution of today’s international human rights institutions, and their policies and shortcomings. And we will look at journalism’s role in human rights. Many examples exist showing that without reporting, human rights violations proceed without international condemnation. How are these issues best covered? What are best practices and ethical considerations? What tools and sources are most useful in reporting often complicated entanglements of human rights? What are our obligations to the most vulnerable? How can we represent victims of human rights violations ethically and with respect?

Interviewing: The New Citizens

To teach the evolution of the journalistic interview as an interdisciplinary practice, originating in its modern form in the 20th century; and to explore its roots in the fields of history, sociology, anthropology, psychology and the arts. We will examine the ways in which interviewing theory and practice intersect as a way of increasing students’ ability to draw meaning from the life experiences and the events they witness. The class will spend seven weeks learning the ways other disciplines have explored the interview, with an eye towards developing a capstone class project that, in an homage to oral history, combines visual, textual, and audio element to describe the life experiences, social mores, legal and bureaucratic challenges, and socio-economic realities of the country’s newest citizens. For the purposes of this class, “citizen” will refer to anyone living in the Greater New York Metropolitan area, not only those who have taken the oath. The tighter focus of the project will depend on the direction the class wishes to take.

Investigating Health Care

If the U.S. health care system were a patient, it would be undergoing treatment for whiplash. After years in which the number of Americans without health insurance dropped to historic lows, President Donald Trump is pledging to undo his predecessor's legacy while delivering "great health care" to the American public. Can that be done? Welcome to investigating health care.

During this class, we will explore hospitals in disarray, exploding prescription drug prices, a mental health system in crisis and consumers struggling to afford their health insurance premiums. You will learn how to navigate one of journalism's most complicated beats, all with an investigative reporter's eye. Individual classes will focus on hospitals, health professionals, our aging society, controversies in medicine, insurance companies, health reform and the pharmaceutical industry. We also will dissect the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and what's taken place under Trump. The course will explore many issues beyond health care, including politics, consumer affairs, finances, the law, ethics and demographics. Along the way, students will become skilled in using public records, understanding bureaucratic agencies and querying databases that can be put to use on practically any beat. Class assignments will require use of investigative skills, interviewing techniques and interaction with bureaucracies. You'll work hard in this class but may leave with clips published in major U.S. media outlets.

Investigative Project

We will explore the mission, methods and history of investigative reporting, as seen through a semester-long project examining a single subject. Our goal will be to build the foundation for a publishable, investigative article based on original research, not recycled government reports. You will learn how to find topics worthy of investigating, how to prove or disprove your investigative hypothesis through interviews, public records and data, and how to present your findings in narrative form.This class is much more than just learning the tools used in investigative reporting.It is also about developing the mindset to make the best use of those tools.

Students will divide into teams, each focusing on a separate topic. Seminars will include a general lecture and an opportunity for teams to share their findings and agree upon reporting assignments for the upcoming week.

Each student must write a weekly memo that includes: 1) a list of individuals you approached for interviews and records searched; 2) a detailed memo on each significant interview.You must exchange these memos with your team members before our seminar.At the end of the semester, each student will be required to write a 2,500-word investigative article based on team reports.

Journalism of Ideas

Several newspapers and magazines have established an "ideas" beat in recent years, in which they try to look beyond the news and identify trends in the changing ways we think about the world. The New Yorker's Malcolm Gladwell ("The Tipping Point") and James Surowiecki ("The Wisdom of Crowds"), or Farhad Manjoo, first at Slate and now at The New York Times, have deftly combined social science research and journalism into a highly successful mix while the economist Steven Levitt, with "Freakonomics" has begun a major trend of social scientists eager to reach mass audiences. Traditional newspapers such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Los Angeles Times have all experimented with ways of building ideas coverage into their papers on a regular basis and much analysis on major news websites from Salon, Slate and the Huffington Post fall into this category. Columnists like David Brooks and Nicholas Kristof routinely rummage through the world of social science to animate and give substance to their work. 

Along with helping students report and write a good ideas piece, the course will hopefully also teach them a way of thinking about stories in general: a way of looking under the surface of events and seeing some larger cultural force at work. For instance, a story about political violence after elections in Kenya could explore different theories about why and under what conditions ethnic groups will resort to violence. A tabloid story about a sociopathic killer slated for execution in Connecticut might turn into a story about what scientists have learned about how people become desensitized to the suffering of others; a piece about bullying could become a piece about what they have discovered about how to make children more caring of others. You could approach the sharp polarization of American politics by looking at how people form their beliefs and filter out information that contradicts their established views. The world of 24/7 cable news and constantly updated Internet coverage has meant that print journalism (or its online incarnations) are looking increasingly for creative analysis as a way of giving value to their work and distinguishing it from the seemingly endless stream of mere information.

The class will be divided into three groups of no more than eight students each so students will receive close attention to their written work as well as meeting as a full group to discuss common readings. The third group will meet in the evening, after the seminar, to accommodate part-time students. The course will meet from 3 to 8:30 p.m., with the first small group meeting to discuss their stories from 3 to 4:15 p.m. and the second from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. The entire class will meet from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. and the third group of students will remain afterward to workshop stories from 6:45 to 8 p.m.  Students will write three substantial stories. Along with developing analytical skills, students will also have a chance to work on narrative technique and developing a writing style.

Literary Journalism

This workshop combines writing and reporting with the study of excellent stylists, both nonfiction writers who have reached beyond conventional news style to render their writing as compelling and graceful as that of the best novelists (such as Katherine Boo, Ryszard Kapuscinski, John McPhee, James Baldwin, Joan Didion and George Orwell) and novelists whose style is inspiring (Leo Tolstoy, Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, among others). Students read and analyze these writers, then do a few short writing exercises and one long article attempting to emulate the best stylists in the field. The idea is to practice the longform style of journalism used in books and magazines such as Granta, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, The Believer and literary journals, online and off. 

Magazine Workshop: Trumplandia

We are now entering our fourth year of life under the Trump administration. Some things in the country have changed; others have remained stubbornly the same. Journalists have been forced, in ways both useful and not, to think about their role in the defense but also possibly the demise of democracy. I

n this class we will be working on creating a print issue of Trumplandia magazine. We will talk together about what goes into making a magazine, we will read up on some great and near-great magazines of the past, we will discuss the task of magazines at the present moment, and we will then produce our own magazine in both print and digital versions. Each student will assume a double role: contributor and editor. To do well in this course you'll need a balanced interest in longform reporting and writing. Students will produce at least one significant piece over the course of the semester, touching on some aspect of American life under Trump, whether it's related to changes handed down from the federal government (related to immigration, deregulation, taxes, for instance), or cultural shifts that have taken place in response to the Trump presidency (#metoo, the growth of the alt-right). As editors, students will be expected to engage substantively with classmates' work. Students will also get experience in layout, display, and design. At the end of the semester we will post our pieces online and produce the print issue. Last year's issue is available in Pulitzer 802 and at Trumplandia Magazine.

The goal for this course is that by the end of the semester students will have produced not only great individual work but also a significant collective contribution to our understanding of what is happening in our country.

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

Why did Deadspin tell its staff to "stick to sports," and in the process, trigger a mass exodus of talent? Why is the Guardian sitting on a pile of cash that provides the foundation for such innovative global journalism? Why are so many local newspaper reporters expected to churn out several stories a day? Point your finger, for better or worse, at the people who run news organizations. CEOs, publishers and editors make decisions every day that fundamentally affect the kind of journalism you'll get to do in upcoming years. This class is for those of you who want to someday run the show, rather than be run by someone else. Students who take this class learn core principles that have long governed the media industry, along with concepts like finding funding for new ventures, or adapting technology to serve a digital audience.

 

We examine all kinds of news companies — small and large, domestic and international, for- and non-profit. In the process, you'll learnhow companies calculate revenue and expenses, and how they manage strategy, diversity, capital, hiring and firing, and newsroom crises. Our class will also give you background to do better and tougher journalism about business, including essentials like reading balance sheets and income statements, or interviewing executives and employees.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.

More Than Police & Thieves: Covering Criminal Justice in the U.S.

Despite the frequency with which it is bandied about on social media and in our news, the phrase “criminal justice system” is a misnomer. In truth, we as Americans deal with crime and its consequences through a patchwork of thousands of individual justice systems. They are archaic and opaque, difficult to navigate or even understand for direct, much less the journalists trying to cover them. By their very nature the police, courts and prisons are steeped in arcane procedures and language and locked behind closed doors. These systems resist inspection with great vigor.

And yet criminal justice—investigating crimes on behalf of victims, identifying culprits and holding them to account—is one of the very core responsibilities of any government. Its success at this task, or failure, has enormous consequences for our communities and influence on our economy. The lives of roughly 2.4 million people are managed by various arms of the justice system at any moment; they’re on probation, in our local jails or in state or federal prisons.

This class will systematically walk the students through each stage of criminal justice. Together, we will develop a holistic framework for reporting on the system as it functions and for identifying the gaps where it fails. We will explore and analyze the available data on crime, policing, courts and incarceration, and we will pursue reporting projects to start to fill some of the many holes in official data. We will look to other parts of the globe for stories that can serve as a comparison to how things operate here in the U.S.

This course aims to inspire you to go beyond the cursory coverage that crime generally receives. Over the next 15 weeks, you will sharpen your ability to obtain and critically assess public information and data from the arms of the criminal justice system. With these tools, you’ll create unique and accurate stories on critical topics of public safety and the due process of law enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.