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.

Stabile Investigative Seminar

This seminar will examine the tectonic shifts that are taking place in the media and challenge students to think about how they can produce, pitch and fund investigative stories in such a dynamic environment. It will also familiarize them with the investigative tradition and the traditional investigative narrative forms. An examination of the classics of the genre will be linked to a critical appreciation of how the genre has evolved in response to changes in technology, the audience and more broadly, society.

The seminar will focus on changing techniques and narrative forms of journalistic investigation and the continued innovation on those techniques.

Storytelling About The Environment

This course will focus on documentary storytelling about one of the most exciting and wide-ranging areas of coverage: science and the environment. Students in this course will learn how to report on and think critically about the many facets of this complex beat, which includes disciplines from ecology to public health. Through extensive reading as well as visits with science journalists and researchers studying issues such as climate change, students will learn to how to identify and write compelling stories about science. The stories they write and the issues they explore will lead to the production of short documentary films.

Students will learn advanced principles of field production, as well as sophisticated post-production techniques.  The course will focus on shooting techniques, proper audio recording, and narrative storytelling skills. Although there will be theoretical discussions and critiques of professional work, a great deal of class time will be spent in the field in order to strengthen each student's production capabilities. The course will be rigorous and will meet for two full days a week.

The course will work closely with Field of Vision, the documentary unit founded by Laura Poitras. The class will take several trips to the Field of Vision offices to meet and learn from professional filmmakers.

Storytelling for the Ear

Section 1: Ann Cooper
Section 2: Daniel Alarcon

Whether we are listening to them or reading them, stories told for the ear engage us, hold our attention and make us "see" the story. Driven by strong, clear narrative writing, these stories capture our imagination. They are intimate and compelling. The writing is conversational and active. The scenes are vivid and memorable. From Edward R. Murrow’s account of entering Buchenwald in 1945, to Sarah Koenig’s 2014 Serial podcast, journalists who write for the ear have always been among our most powerful storytellers.

This class explores the qualities of the best audio storytelling and the ways it differs from, and is similar to, writing for print, online or video. For some assignments, students will record interviews and use them in producing audio scripts. These assignments complement, but do not duplicate, audio courses in the Sound and Image module. The level of technical skills required are no more than what all students have learned in the August digital skills training – recording and mixing a basic story with written narration and actuality from interviews. Storytelling for the Ear is not a prerequisite for any course, though the writing style taught in this class will make all of your writing stronger. it will be especially useful for students planning careers in broadcast journalism, whether radio, television or documentary.

The Art of the Profile

Writing profiles means writing about people, bringing them to life on the page. Profiles often begin with physical descriptions and so will we. These passages don’t come easily without practice; we’ll study examples from Dickens, from classic journalists (McPhee, Trillin and Liebling) and from young journalists (Ben McGrath, Lauren Collins and Nick Paumgarten).  We’ll learn to use physical descriptions in pitch letters to editors (there’s no better way to let an editor know that you can write) and in the stories that result from the pitches (there’s no better way to make a reader care about the person you’re reporting on). 

Once we’ve gained fluency, we’ll move on to questions of organization, structure, suspense, mystery – every human being is a mystery – and ultimately, a 3,000-word magazine-length profile. We’ll have guests to advise us on how to win the trust of a subject. (Every reporter does it differently; you’ll want to find the way that works with your particular set of charms). In class, we’ll read our work aloud, slowly, and pause over nearly every sentence. We’ll root out newspaper syntax, clichés, solecisms, hot air and tedious throat-clearing. And together, we’ll delight in the classroom miracles that can result from sheer concentration on writing well.

The Journalism of Death and Dying

Just about every journalist has to cover death, whether a fireman’s funeral, a fatal car crash, a memorial service or a simple obituary of a community leader. This seven-week course will equip students to cover end-of-life issues, including terminal illness, murders, suicides and fatal accidents in both the personal and public spheres. With the help of experts on trauma, students will discuss best practices about interviewing the bereaved and survivors. The reading list will include some of the great journalism on death and dying, including classic obituaries and accounts of disasters such as 9/11, Katrina and the Indian Ocean tsunami. The class will also look at some of the digital media outlets that are increasingly used to memorialize the dead. Finally, the class will explore the cross-cultural and cross-theological practices surrounding death. Over the course of the semester each student will visit a public memorial and a funeral home and write a story from each venue. There will be weekly research, writing and rewriting assignments with the goal of producing three 1,200-word articles.

The Narrative Journalism of Social Fault Lines

This workshop is about writing longform narrative journalism based on deep reporting on social issues – literary and "documentary" in the manner of the great nonfiction writing produced during the 1930s by James Agee, Edmund Wilson, Louis Adamic and others. Practitioners today include Joan Didion, Kate Boo, Ted Conover and Bill Vollmann. Stories must have a news hook. Students will engage in shoe leather journalism. Reporting rules apply for literary journalism and then some. If your piece is five times longer than a hard news story on a topic, it should have five times as much reporting. The result will be longform journalism that could appear in The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Harper's or online sites, such as Narratively and the Big Roundtable, or in a book.

Using Data to Investigate Across Borders

Exponential amounts of information about the world are being produced daily and journalists everywhere need to have a global mindset if they are to write about organized crime, corruption, human trafficking, global trade and threats to the environment.

We live in an increasingly borderless world. Goods, money, people and ideas flow freely across borders thanks to technology and the liberalization of customs and money controls. We all benefit from globalization and the free flow of commerce that it makes possible. But there’s a dark side: A borderless world also makes it easier for crooks and criminals to do their work.

Around the world, journalists are developing techniques to cope with the globalization of crime, corruption and environmental damage. They are adopting strategies that include the smart use of data and collaboration across borders. The volume and velocity with which information and data are being produced and the variety of open sources currently available make it possible to develop reporting strategies that are truly global.

This course will prepare students to find global data, process and analyze it; and to report on it from New York while working with sources and possibly other journalists overseas. Students will learn skills like doing background checks on people and companies, mining the social web, tracking offshore entities and finding assets and cargo. They will be divided into reporting teams and will be able to find, scrape, consolidate, analyze and visualize data in the context of a big global story by the end of the semester.

Video Newsroom

Video Newsroom will combine elements of Nightly News, Reinventing TV News and Audience & Engagement, giving students intensive, frequent video reporting opportunities while publishing in real time on the web and social media. We will, to the greatest extent possible, cover news and developing stories and publish them within 24 hours. 

Students will be expected to shoot and edit stories at least once per week, concentrating on dynamic changes in NYC, including themes such as Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Emerging Politics, Race, Gender and Identity, Changing Demographics and Grass Roots New York. This will give the typical student at least a dozen stories (some will have more) to show prospective employers, demonstrating several different approaches to field reporting.

A staff of instructors from diverse video-producing organizations such as ABC News, WNBC, Vice News, HBO, CBS News and The Guardian will enable students to experiment with various styles and formats of field reporting, preparing them for careers across a spectrum of video reporting opportunities. We will also experiment with “live” streaming from the field, and will produce several integrated newscasts in the television studio, though field reporting will be our emphasis throughout.

 

In addition, the course will include a 7-week seminar based on Professor Klatell’s popular Reinventing TV News, exposing students to new business models for video production companies, such as those of NowThis, Buzzfeed, Twitter and Vine, re-designed legacy organizations including CNN Money and Politics, as well as the planned Vice News Tonight evening program, to be launched in collaboration with HBO.

Finally, we will embed a specialized 7-week section of Audience & Engagement, to be built around the video reporting and web publication that is integral to Video Newsroom, rather than materials developed especially for Audience & Engagement. This will enable students not only to publish frequently throughout the semester, but to identify and engage target audiences and online communities over many weeks, thereby gathering more relevant data and better metrics than is often the case.

Whether your goal is to work in local or network television news, for an online publication, an international organization or as a freelance video journalist, your career will likely begin with the ability to find, report, produce and distribute news stories in various video formats. Video Newsroom aspires to create opportunities for ambitious students to achieve that goal.

Prerequisite: 7-week video module

Students who enroll in this class will be charged a $275 lab fee.

Video Newsroom

Tuesday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Wednesday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

So you want to be a globetrotting, foreign correspondent? A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times? An Emmy Award-winning producer for Vice or CNN? A feature writer for Vanity Fair? No matter what your aspirations, you will have to work efficiently under deadlines. With practice, practice and more practice, this class will teach you techniques and cultivate a mindset that will enable you to succeed when reporting, writing and/or producing under tight deadlines. You will learn to turn your deadline anxiety into adrenaline – and to enjoy the process.

You will pitch stories every Monday night for coverage the next day. On Tuesday mornings you will head to the field to report and/or shoot your story. These assignments replicate what you would be likely to cover for a mainstream media organization: breaking news, local and state politics, press conferences, follow-ups to news stories as well as short features. You will file your story on Tuesday and begin editing with one-on-one help from the professors. On Wednesday mornings we will meet as a class for a seminar. You will learn the techniques and strategies necessary for reporting, producing, shooting, editing and writing under deadline. In the afternoon you will work with the professors to bring your story to broadcast or printable quality.

Students who wish to do video in this class will be charged a $275 lab fee.

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. 

Writing with Style

Writing with style means achieving a distinctive and elegant voice that makes one’s storytelling stand above the crowd. Style like this is made up of several elements: 1) A rich and surprising vocabulary. 2) A sense of rhythm and music in speech; i.e. knowing when to vary the length of sentences, when to open quotes and when to close them. Knowing how to begin, and just as important, when to end. 3) A sense of humor, and of drama. 4) A deep knowledge of your subject matter. 5) And last but not least, a sense of which stories to choose that suit your own style and interests. In this class, we will concentrate on each of these elements, both through assignments and reading. We will read and study in detail some of the best stylists in nonfiction. Student work will be critiqued in class.

Written Word

In this class, students will produce polished reports that mix qualitative and quantitative observations and analyses and that include "backstory" pieces describing the computation they performed and the basis for the inferences they have drawn in the story.

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