Classes | Columbia Journalism School


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.

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.

Business and Financial News

This course will focus on covering breaking news in business, the financial markets and the economy. Students will learn the basics of business and financial news coverage, including how to make breaking news stories lively, colorful, interesting and relevant for readers. They will learn how to write clearly and accurately under deadline. They will learn how to spot the most important news in seemingly impenetrable press releases and jargon-heavy government announcements. They will learn how to anticipate news and how to include a forward spin to breaking-news stories. They will learn how to use timelines, bullet boxes and other forms of journalistic art to illustrate stories. We will be joined occasionally by journalists who will tell us how they reported and wrote major stories under deadline pressures. Time permitting, we will tour at least one major news organization where we will meet reporters and editors.

M.A. Business Fall Seminar

With the world's economies so intricately linked, perspective is essential. In the fall, students will examine economies that are now thriving, like the United States, but also learn about the warning signs of stagnation, downturn and decline. They will discuss capitalism's shortcomings -- as well as various new proposals like a living wage, employee business ownership and the breakup of powerful technology titans. Stripping away political gamesmanship, they will contemplate failing economies, such as Venezuela's, to analyze what went wrong and sketch out possible future courses. They will gain a greater appreciation of the extraordinary long-term impact wrought by very gradual shifts, like more women entering the workforce and labor's move away from unions. Through data analysis, students will learn how to estimate the impact of government policies, central bank actions and legal decisions on the population as a whole. From guest speakers who are economists and journalists with decades of experience, they will discern the economic ripples that ultimately dictate everyday life, including an individual's ability to buy a house, pay for college and retire in comfort.


M.A. Business Spring Seminar

Students move on to the basics of financial reporting in the spring semester. After an introduction to capital markets, they analyze the corporate building blocks, from the assets and liabilities on a balance sheet to income statements. Timely case studies will be introduced on companies like Tesla (What is it really worth? Is it in financial trouble? Will it go private?) and Disney (Why did it merge repeatedly with other big companies? Why did it diversify into Broadway shows? Can this classic entertainment company survive the disruption of the Internet?). Students will consider whether chief executives have ethical responsibilities that extend beyond shareholders. They will ask, what are the warning signs of trouble in a corporation: in accounting, in the way the company is run, in the way the board of directors is structured? Similarly, what are the clues that politicians may be enriching themselves, their associates or favorite industries? Lawyers and accountants will illuminate the financial enforcement of crimes like money laundering, securities fraud and insider trading. Along the way, students will assess the true value of an enterprise and glean whether they -- and investors of all stripes from hedge funds to college endowments -- are making wise investment decisions for tomorrow.


M.S. Essentials: Business

The journalism business is in a period of historic flux. Many legacy models are eroding, while nascent business models show promise but often have not yet achieved stability or profitability. This is the world in which you will work, and it is both exciting and daunting.

Multiple instructors teach sections of this class.


To better prepare you for that world, we require M.S. students to take this course, as part of the Friday core that also includes law, ethics and history. We want you to understand the challenges, opportunities and vicissitudes of the journalism business, not just for your own career development, but also because we want you to be partners and innovators in determining new ways to secure the future of journalism. We want to get beyond the sound bites and explore the ways journalism could be funded during the course of your careers. We also hope you will understand more from this course about how businesspeople make decisions, which is important in whatever line of journalism you pursue. It is no longer acceptable for journalists to ignore the economics of their profession or leave the economic decisions entirely to the business folks.

Managing the 21st-Century News Organization

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.