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.

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

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.

Video Newsroom

Whether your interest is broadcast news coverage or long form documentary, learning to report news and quickly produce a clear video story prepares you to be agile in the changing video journalism marketplace.

In Video Newsroom, students will report, write and produce video stories ranging from the four-minute BBC-style story to the 90-second US broadcast news variety to 30-second social media spots. We will apply reporting techniques to the audio-visual medium, to tell news, feature and investigative stories effectively. We will explore ethical issues applicable to video journalism and learn to interview for video, shoot sequences and write for the short news format. 

This class meets two full days a week. Most weeks, students will produce stories with one day largely dedicated to working through scripts and edits.

The class functions like a newsroom. Each week, students will be assigned to an editor. The editors/adjunct professors are video news professionals who work as producers and on-air reporters. Please note: Every morning (M-F) at 8am, students and editors will have a 20-minute morning call to discuss the news of the day and stories you are working on.

Students will pitch and be assigned news, feature and deep dive/investigative stories.

In addition, students will receive additional support in camera skills, voice tracking, graphics production.

The on-air clinic will run for five sessions on Fridays* led by an on-air news reporter to develop live and camera presentation skills. We will visit network and local newsrooms and hear from producers and reporters in the field. During the last five weeks, students will produce a newscast, each taking on a different role as producers and reporters.

(*Subject to change)