Classes

Please note: The classes listed here represent recent offerings at the Journalism School. These include M.S. and M.S. in Data Journalism courses, except for those that are specifically designated as 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.

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.

Radio Workshop

The 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. The class functions as a working newsroom to produce Uptown Radio, a live webcast every Friday at 4 p.m. and on-demand podcast. 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 your writing and reporting skills (irrespective of media) by emphasizing descriptive writing, narrative and scene-building techniques, and longform documentary techniques. There are no prerequisites for this course.

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.

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.

Tactical Technology for Reporting

In the past fifteen years, digital technologies – from the Internet to the Internet of things - have drastically reshaped the operations of industry and the exercising of individual rights. Essential accountability reporting – on everything from politics to privacy, crime to commerce – relies on a critical understanding of the digital technologies that now permeate public and private life, and also requires a familiarity with how to use technology to report on the issues these technologies generate. Through hands-on exercises and guest lectures from leading reporters, students will learn both the technical skills and essential reporting approaches for working with sources and source material related to digital technology across a range of topic areas. 

Students will also complete a series of in-depth reporting assignments that take technology coverage beyond the consumer/gadget sphere: a technology “profile,” an explanatory piece on a current piece of cyber or technology news, and follow-up pieces on larger technology news stories. In addition to their individual assignments, the class as a whole will work on a larger piece of journalism, likely exploring the origins and aftermath of a major data breach, such as the OPM, HomeDepot or Primera incidents. Through work with experts, original sources, documents and victims, this piece will explore not only how major data breaches happen, but also on the subsequent fallout for individual victims and the public at large.

The Narrative Journalism of Social Fault Lines

This workshop is about writing longform narrative journalism based on deep reporting on social issues – literary and "documentary" in the manner of the great nonfiction writing produced during the 1930s by James Agee, Edmund Wilson, Louis Adamic and others. Practitioners today include Joan Didion, Kate Boo, Ted Conover and Bill Vollmann. Stories must have a news hook. Students will engage in shoe leather journalism. Reporting rules apply for literary journalism and then some. If your piece is five times longer than a hard news story on a topic, it should have five times as much reporting. The result will be longform journalism that could appear in The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Harper's or online sites, such as Narratively and the Big Roundtable, or in a book.

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.

Video Newsroom

Tuesday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Wednesday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

So you want to be a globetrotting, foreign correspondent? A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times? An Emmy Award-winning producer for Vice or CNN? A feature writer for Vanity Fair? No matter what your aspirations, you will have to work efficiently under deadlines. With practice, practice and more practice, this class will teach you techniques and cultivate a mindset that will enable you to succeed when reporting, writing and/or producing under tight deadlines. You will learn to turn your deadline anxiety into adrenaline – and to enjoy the process.

You will pitch stories every Monday night for coverage the next day. On Tuesday mornings you will head to the field to report and/or shoot your story. These assignments replicate what you would be likely to cover for a mainstream media organization: breaking news, local and state politics, press conferences, follow-ups to news stories as well as short features. You will file your story on Tuesday and begin editing with one-on-one help from the professors. On Wednesday mornings we will meet as a class for a seminar. You will learn the techniques and strategies necessary for reporting, producing, shooting, editing and writing under deadline. In the afternoon you will work with the professors to bring your story to broadcast or printable quality.

Students who wish to do video in this class will be charged a $275 lab fee.

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