What You'll Learn | Columbia Journalism School

What You'll Learn

Through a rigorous schedule of lectures, seminars and workshops, students are immersed in the world of publishing. In the process, they discover a capacity to assimilate information and produce excellent work that is more sophisticated than they ever imagined possible before actually starting their careers.

They spend time with industry professionals and instructors after classes, during meals and at evening discussions. They work on assignments and live with like-minded colleagues for six weeks. The friendships formed at the course — many participants say, "I found my people at the CPC" — are often life-long and actually impact their careers.

The Program

PART I: Book Publishing

During the first two weeks of the course there are three lectures and/or small seminars a day. Students learn every element of the book publishing process, from the role of the editors to the parts played by the managing editors, the subsidiary rights directors, the art directors, the publicists and marketing people, to name but a few key players. They are given an intensive publicity assignment, as well as an editorial assignment that involves reading and evaluating an original manuscript that will be published at some future date by one of the editors coming to teach what is needed to write a good reader's report  — an invaluable skill that anyone seeking a publishing job must have.

The following week, students embark on an intensive seven-day workshop. The class divides into groups of ten people and each group must create a publishing company from the ground up, simulating tasks undertaken by a publisher's editorial, publicity, sales, subsidiary rights, business, managing editorial and marketing departments. There are usually six large trade houses, two children's publishers, an academic press and an independent press. If possible, students are assigned to a press based on what they suppose their interests will be when the course is over. A faculty of twenty or more industry professionals are with the program the entire time and provide guidance and support. The students gain hands-on, in-depth experience that will serve them well in deciding which aspect of publishing they wish to go into, while also providing them with an indispensable road map for finding their way around a publishing company.

PART II: Magazine and Digital Publishing

The second section of this course is devoted to magazines and digital media. Professionals in the field teach every facet of print and online publication from business, editorial and design to marketing, promotion and distribution. Through lectures and assignments, students learn what it takes to publish a successful magazine and launch a profitable website.

Like the book publishing portion of the course, the magazine and digital media segment includes its own workshop. Students create hypothetical publications in categories that may include fashion, food, shelter, teen, travel or sports.

In super-groups of 16 or more, they build their magazine by establishing editorial mission statements, design layouts and wireframes. They research possible audiences and develop brand strategy, while assessing competitors. They create all of the social media that a real magazine would have and line-up advertisers and people who would write for them while deciding subjects for 75 articles per publication. All of this takes place under the watchful eye of an experienced faculty currently involved in doing this work in the real world.

Note: If you’re interested in book publishing only, rather than book and magazine-digital publishing, consider our sister course in Oxford, England.