Classes

Please note: The classes listed here represent recent offerings at the Journalism School. All are M.S. 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.

Covering Campaign Finance

Campaign finance journalism involves much more than simply reporting how much each candidate raised. It means digging deep to find the motivations behind the individuals and organizations supporting a particular political party or candidate. It can also mean identifying candidates using campaign cash as a slush fund to enrich family members and live the high life. More broadly, it means looking beyond campaign finance filings and connecting the dots in order to uncover patterns, networks and relationships that provide insight on the influence of money on politics. This course will provide the foundation of knowledge and skills that enables students to write interesting, thoughtful and impactful stories on the money that fuels election campaigns and political life in this country. 

Covering the 2016 Presidential Race

This course will follow the 2016 presidential election with a focus on reporting the issues driving the contest. Among the subjects to be explored are: 1) the changing composition of the two parties; 2) the evolution of social and cultural issues, from reproductive rights to gay marriage to the role of religion in the public square; 3) race, as the original issue driving polarization and its centrality in defining liberal and conservative ideologies; 4) the widening gulf between Democrats and Republicans, between left and right; 5) the roots of the anti-spending, anti-tax movement; 6) how demography has the potential to shape political outcomes; 7) the drive to demonize the opposition, especially the demonization of Hillary Clinton and/or the Koch brothers; 8) the nationalization of politics, the swing vote and the end of ticket splitting; 9) the fight over voting rights in the aftermath of key Supreme Court decisions; 10) the emergence of a new system of campaign finance in the wake of Citizens United and related decisions.

Underpinning the focus on issues will be an examination of what the function of political competition is: a central function is the distribution of resources – tangible or intangible. Resources can range from paving contracts (tangible); to zoning permits (tangible); to the creation of a multicultural curriculum in the public schools (intangible); to decisions about which holidays will be officially observed (intangible). The role of government in distributing these and other resources impacts every aspect of society. Resource competition can be seen in debates over taxes, school choice, bilingual education, voter ID requirements, parking regulations, architectural and engineering contracts, subway routes, construction permits, rent control guidelines, automobile emissions, immigration law and in the regulation of the use of force – domestically and internationally.

M.A. Politics Seminar-in-Concentration

Students in the M.A. Politics concentration develop what every groundbreaking political journalist needs: a historical context for global political systems and institutions as well as the tools to analyze and understand stories and situations they might confront on the politics beat.

In the fall term, the seminar is organized around several themes: state formation; the rise of nationalism and ethno‐religious identity and conflict; the development of protest movements; social conflict and collective action; rights; the distribution of resources; and bargaining and negotiation. In the spring term, we go deeper into political institutions that exist almost everywhere: legislatures and bureaucracies, parties and interest groups, elections and agencies.

Recent guest lecturers have included Barnard political scientist Kimberley Johnson; Cornell behavioral economist Robert Frank; political strategist Howard Wolfson; and historian Mahmood Mamdani.