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.

Audio I

This course teaches fundamental and advanced techniques of field reporting and writing in audio or radio media. Emphasis is on writing clearly and conversationally, with integration of recorded voices and natural sound. Students will pitch, report, write and produce compelling, public radio style pieces, including newscasts, news stories, features and interviews. They will be trained in state-of-the-industry recording equipment and editing software. Students will receive detailed, one-on-one editing and will publish their work in on-demand digital audio formats. The writing and technical skills taught in this course are intended to serve students well in any medium.

This class (or Audio II for students with prior experience) is a prerequisite for those interested in pitching a full audio master’s project.

Multiple instructors teach sections of this class.

Radio Workshop

Radio Workshop develops the skills to tell compelling, sound-driven news stories as well as the fundamentals of long-form audio storytelling. The class operates as a working newsroom to produce a live, hour-long weekly news-magazine program, Uptown Radio.

As reporters, students produce four enterprise stories of increasing complexity, a personal commentary, two day-stories, two newscasts, and two host interviews. On the production side, students rotate through key leadership positions and technical positions to ensure a high-quality, timely broadcast. The leadership team makes all of editorial decisions with support from the instructors as needed.

Learning to write well for audio forces you to write clearly and concisely. As such, this course develops your reporting and writing in ways that will be useful in whatever career path you choose.

Shoe Leather: Multi-Casting Investigative Stories

This class is for students who want to take their long-form journalism beyond print. In it, students will work in small teams to produce episodes for an original podcast — SHOE LEATHER — and create a corresponding web page with text, photos, primary source documents and short videos. Students will take a deep dive into a specific news event from New York City in the 1980’s, and explore how it was covered at the time, and its impact decades later.

Using online resources and old fashioned shoe leather reporting, the goal of each podcast episode will be to find the main newsmakers of the past event and reveal how the news coverage influenced their lives. Students might pursue crime stories, missing persons cases, the rise and fall of political figures, catastrophic events that impacted a neighborhood, natural disasters that swept through a community, or an act of heroism that received wide acclaim. The stories will take the listener back in time using clear narrative writing and archival tape, and explain the significance of the news event and the role the newsmaker played.

Three seminars will be co-taught by professors Faryon and Maharidge. They will focus on the cross-over between long-form print narratives and storytelling for journalism-driven podcasts. Students will learn how to plan their reporting to ensure a three-act structure, and animate stories beyond talking heads. They’ll learn to think in scenes, and how those scenes translate into print, audio and video. This class prepares students to produce long form audio for a digital newsroom such as the LA Times, or podcast creation company. It will also train students to think like a “platform neutral” journalist — in other words — open to telling stories in different ways for different audiences.

Telling True Stories in Sound

The goal of this course is to teach the skills of long-form audio journalism, and the techniques of nonfiction storytelling used in established shows like This American Life, Radiolab or Invisibilia, as well as newer podcasts like Reply All, or 99% Invisible. The style of storytelling used in the public radio style podcasts is a combination of in-depth reporting and long-form storytelling. This course will prepare students to tell complex stories using strong character-driven  narrative.

The workshop will be run as a newsroom. We'll have pitch meetings, where each student will have workshop edits (modeled on This American Life) and welcome guests from significant team members at WNYC Studios, Gimlet Studios, This American Life, Radiolab, as well as NPR shows like Code Switch, Planet Money and Radio Ambulante.