Classes | Page 2 | School of Journalism

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.

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.

The Art of the Profile

Writing profiles means writing about people, bringing them to life on the page. Profiles often begin with physical descriptions and so will we. These passages don’t come easily without practice; we’ll study examples from Dickens, from classic journalists (McPhee, Trillin and Liebling) and from young journalists (Ben McGrath, Lauren Collins and Nick Paumgarten).  We’ll learn to use physical descriptions in pitch letters to editors (there’s no better way to let an editor know that you can write) and in the stories that result from the pitches (there’s no better way to make a reader care about the person you’re reporting on). 

Once we’ve gained fluency, we’ll move on to questions of organization, structure, suspense, mystery – every human being is a mystery – and ultimately, a 3,000-word magazine-length profile. We’ll have guests to advise us on how to win the trust of a subject. (Every reporter does it differently; you’ll want to find the way that works with your particular set of charms). In class, we’ll read our work aloud, slowly, and pause over nearly every sentence. We’ll root out newspaper syntax, clichés, solecisms, hot air and tedious throat-clearing. And together, we’ll delight in the classroom miracles that can result from sheer concentration on writing well.

The Journalist as Historian

A good work of history reads like a novel in which all the details are true. In this course, you will learn to frame a piece of history as a story, uncover sources, and transform evidence into an accurate narrative that casts the past and present in a new light. We will develop skills for finding and using archives, and for using sources including memoirs, newspapers, and popular culture to strengthen a story. With a focus on long-form writing, we will work on how to uncover the plot line in actual events and develop characters. To build a repertoire of techniques, we will look at fine historical writing, especially by journalists. Examining work on American race relations and the Israeli-Arab conflict, we will look at the relationship between facts, accepted narratives, and the writer's personal perspective — and at the impact of new writing on "what everyone knows." In short, we'll see how a writer can change history. In your own work, you will define a subject for a book-length work of history. You will then find sources and write one extended episode of the story. Finally, you will create a chapter outline and rewrite your episode in response to new sources and intensive workshop discussion of your writing. 

 By the end of the course, each student should have the materials for a book proposal, along with the skills for enriching magazine writing with reporting on the past.

Using Data to Investigate Across Borders

Exponential amounts of information about the world are being produced daily and journalists everywhere need to have a global mindset if they are to write about organized crime, corruption, human trafficking, global trade and threats to the environment.

We live in an increasingly borderless world. Goods, money, people and ideas flow freely across borders thanks to technology and the liberalization of customs and money controls. We all benefit from globalization and the free flow of commerce that it makes possible. But there’s a dark side: A borderless world also makes it easier for crooks and criminals to do their work.

Around the world, journalists are developing techniques to cope with the globalization of crime, corruption and environmental damage. They are adopting strategies that include the smart use of data and collaboration across borders. The volume and velocity with which information and data are being produced and the variety of open sources currently available make it possible to develop reporting strategies that are truly global.

This course will prepare students to find global data, process and analyze it; and to report on it from New York while working with sources and possibly other journalists overseas. Students will learn skills like doing background checks on people and companies, mining the social web, tracking offshore entities and finding assets and cargo. They will be divided into reporting teams and will be able to find, scrape, consolidate, analyze and visualize data in the context of a big global story by the end of the semester.

Video Newsroom

Video Newsroom will combine elements of Nightly News, Reinventing TV News and Audience & Engagement, giving students intensive, frequent video reporting opportunities while publishing in real time on the web and social media. We will, to the greatest extent possible, cover news and developing stories and publish them within 24 hours. 

Students will be expected to shoot and edit stories at least once per week, concentrating on dynamic changes in NYC, including themes such as Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Emerging Politics, Race, Gender and Identity, Changing Demographics and Grass Roots New York. This will give the typical student at least a dozen stories (some will have more) to show prospective employers, demonstrating several different approaches to field reporting.

A staff of instructors from diverse video-producing organizations such as ABC News, WNBC, Vice News, HBO, CBS News and The Guardian will enable students to experiment with various styles and formats of field reporting, preparing them for careers across a spectrum of video reporting opportunities. We will also experiment with “live” streaming from the field, and will produce several integrated newscasts in the television studio, though field reporting will be our emphasis throughout.

 

In addition, the course will include a 7-week seminar based on Professor Klatell’s popular Reinventing TV News, exposing students to new business models for video production companies, such as those of NowThis, Buzzfeed, Twitter and Vine, re-designed legacy organizations including CNN Money and Politics, as well as the planned Vice News Tonight evening program, to be launched in collaboration with HBO.

Finally, we will embed a specialized 7-week section of Audience & Engagement, to be built around the video reporting and web publication that is integral to Video Newsroom, rather than materials developed especially for Audience & Engagement. This will enable students not only to publish frequently throughout the semester, but to identify and engage target audiences and online communities over many weeks, thereby gathering more relevant data and better metrics than is often the case.

Whether your goal is to work in local or network television news, for an online publication, an international organization or as a freelance video journalist, your career will likely begin with the ability to find, report, produce and distribute news stories in various video formats. Video Newsroom aspires to create opportunities for ambitious students to achieve that goal.

Prerequisite: 7-week video module

Students who enroll in this class will be charged a $275 lab fee.

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