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

Covering Climate: Story & Animation

Students in this class will learn how to report on the many stories of climate change. They will learn the underlying science—gaining skills and techniques they can apply to reporting on science and environmental issues generally. And they will learn how to think about and explore the many ways climate intersects with nearly every aspect of global society, including health, psychology, immigration, and infrastructure. Students will write several stories, largely focusing on New York City and the region. At the same time, they will develop the skills needed to produce a visually compelling narrative, using Adobe software such as Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and After Effects. They will learn elements of design and visual presentation as they create an animated piece that will be the capstone of the semester. Climate change is the story of the century. This course will help students learn how to cover it correctly, comprehensively, and creatively.

International Newsroom

The course begins with an examination of what is news and how the definition of news and the ways in which it is reported can change as you cross geographical and cultural borders. Class discussions and assignments cover global press freedom challenges, trends in international journalism and often reflect emerging news. Guests may include veteran foreign correspondents, practitioners of “the new global journalism,” such as citizen reporting projects or bloggers from countries where mainstream media face severe restrictions. Each student pitches, reports and writes several stories on international topics and, in most years, works on a class-wide reporting project. Projects have included studies of state-funded global TV channels, of western media reporting on chemical weapons use in Syria and of digital technology’s impact on international reporting. For project examples done in past years by International Newsroom, see Global Media Wars, The New Global Journalism and Global Newsroom.

Multimedia Design & Storytelling

Readers get their news from multiple platforms, and today's journalists must therefore learn to tell stories for and across these platforms. Design, especially in the digital space, allows us to add new kinds of texture and dimension to our reporting. This class will deal with the many formats that stories can take and how those formats play out across different devices, as opposed to analysis of mobile apps or platforms on which those stories appear. We will emphasize visual storytelling for mobile devices: how a reporter/visual editor work together to present information easy to consume on smartphones. We will learn to blend editorial design essentials (grids, color, type, story structures, motion, user experience) with modern tools for building digital stories. The class combines lectures with weekly hands-on work.

Multimedia Storytelling: Data, Design and Animation

This intensive production course covers the fundamentals of using data, design and animation to tell deeply-reported, compelling stories. Students will learn how to use industry-standard multimedia production tools, as well as advanced animation storytelling techniques. Students will be taught how to source data, storyboard, design, produce, and animate journalistic stories. Several short- and long-form projects will guide students through the process of conceptualizing, visualizing and producing animated stories.

Multimedia Storytelling: Data, Design and Animation combines data sourcing, motion design and video production exploring the powerful potential of digital visualization methods for journalism. Students will be taught how to research, report, source data, storyboard, design, produce, edit and animate in-depth journalistic video content to acquire advanced industry-standard storytelling techniques.

Multimedia Storytelling: Visual Craft

This course is designed for students looking to learn long-form, documentary filmmaking for theatrical release or digital platforms.The workshop component is part field training, part theory and discussion, part production, and part business. Students will produce a documentary film by the end of the course.

A large portion of class time will be spent with instructors working on shooting fundamentals and working towards advanced cinematography and storytelling techniques. A strong emphasis will be placed on visual composition and aesthetics. Students will be critiqued on their production skills as well as their reporting and storytelling.Significant classroom time will be spent on advanced editing techniques.

This course is not designed for those looking to become on-camera correspondents or to produce for network television programming.

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.

Visual Storytelling

This course will focus on issue-driven photojournalism and multimedia in the social documentary tradition with students producing two multimedia stories focusing on a human rights or social justice concern.  Students will see examples of work that made an impact, critique the aesthetic strategies employed and learn about NGO and foundation collaborations. Students will incorporate text, video and audio into their stories, with the final outcome being a website of professional quality that can serve as a portfolio and material for contests and possible grants. Students will learn narrative storytelling, post production, archiving practices and business and pricing standards, including day rates, usage fees and copyright.

Note: There is a $75 equipment fee associated with this class for students planning to use our equipment. Students who bring their own dSLRs and lenses will not be charged this fee.