Graduate students from other Columbia Divisions/Schools looking to register for Spring 2018 classes at the Journalism School must follow the steps outlined below. All classes listed below are 6-point courses (unless otherwise specified). Detailed information, including course descriptions, has been listed.
Cross-registration will open Monday, January 8, at 10 a.m. and will close Friday, January 26, at 10 a.m. To cross-register, students must submit this form.
Class Offerings for Spring 2018
Disinformation, Fake News, and Democracy
Wednesdays, 2:10 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
An exploration of the history and current role of fake news in public life. We place it in the context of the long history (and wide variety) of other kinds of journalism that have also been seen as fake in some way, from the mischievous and the satirical to the opportunistic and the subversive. The focus is on identifying the perpetrators, victims, beneficiaries, and debunkers of these efforts and on the changing relationships among journalism, power, authority, and democracy.
The Journalism of Ideas
Mondays, 2:00 p.m - 7:00 p.m. (class will only run till 7 on production days)
In the first semester students learn to report and write news stories, which are generally focused on what happened, on the Who, What, When, Where – the first four of journalism's five W’s. In the Journalism of Ideas we are going to be more concerned with the Why of stories. Usually events are driven by deeper forces under the surface of things, the slow, subtle shifts of history or society that move like the tectonic plates under the earth’s surface. Almost all news stories have potential beyond what actually happened that is often left unexplored in most coverage. A simple metro story about a man jumping on the subway tracks to save a stranger who has had a seizure can become a story about altruism – is it an innate instinct? Under what circumstances do people act altruistically? How can it be explained evolutionarily?
In a digital age, what happened is known rapidly on a variety of media platforms. The stories that stand out, reach a wide audience and have a longer life are those that offer an original or interesting interpretative frame to the news. The Journalism of Ideas will try to help create stories of conceptual depth and focus. It will be a hybrid course that will combine writing print stories as well as learning to tell ideas stories in audio form as radio or podcast pieces.
Many newspapers and magazines have established an "ideas" beat in recent years, in which they try to look beyond the news and try to identify trends in the changing way we think about the world. At The New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell ("The Tipping Point") and James Surowiecki ("The Wisdom of Crowds") have deftly combined social science research and journalism into a highly successful. Newspapers such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Los Angeles Times have all experimented with ways of building ideas coverage into their papers on a regular basis and much analysis on major news websites from Salon, Slate, Pacific Standard and the Huffington Post falls into this category. Columnists like David Brooks and Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times frequently rummage through the world of social science to animate and give substance to their work.
Ideas pieces have also become the lifeblood of some of the best and most exciting work in the growing world of radio and audio podcasts – from This American Life, Radiolab and Planet Money, to Freakonomics and The Hidden Brain as well as Malcolm Gladwell’s new “Revisionist History.” Many of these pieces have as their underlying structure some piece of social science research which they use to explain -- in engaging narrative form -- some perplexing aspect of human behavior from the seemingly simple – how and why we tip or wait in line – to the most important -- how we choose a mate, a political party, why we might behave nobly or self-destructively, or spend more time researching the TV set we are interested in buying than how we invest our life savings.
The main professor, Alexander Stille, a print journalist and author, will work intensively in the first part of the semester to help students learn to find, develop, and write an ideas story. Students will produce a story or a draft of a story every week and receive close editing and feedback. By mid-semester, students will identify one story that they will make into a short podcast.Marty Goldensohn (Links to an external site.), a long-time public radio producer and former news director of WNYC, will be the adjunct professor and instruct them on both on the technique of recording and editing audio as well as the larger problem of how to tell a story through sound.
The class will meet from 2 until 7 every Monday, with occasional extra sessions for work shopping stories or working in the school’s audio lab. We will also hear from top practitioners from the worlds of print, on-line and audio journalism.
Thursdays, 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
From competition among tragedies in Ancient Greek festivals to flame-wars over the latest Kendrick Lamar track, works of art and entertainment seem always to live (or die) amid a public debate about their merits and flaws. Writers of serious criticism both join the fray and stay above (or get beneath) it, considering what a work does, how it does it, what it means, and why it matters. In this seminar, we will bring such questions to bear as we work on writing criticism with authority and eloquence.
You will be reading and writing a lot. You will read works that chart some recurrent issues in the history of criticism, serve as representative samples of particular kinds of critical approaches, inspire you with their ideas and styles, and sometimes provoke your blazing disagreement. Your coherent critical assessment of the readings we discuss in class will also be a means of practicing the kind of analysis you will bring to your own critical writing. The course takes as axiomatic that no matter its form, good criticism is based on considered judgment and elegant argument: passionate as it may be, it is not a blurt of opinion. Though we won't ignore the role some criticism plays as consumer guide, we will not be spending time on simple thumbs-up/thumbs-down ratings nor even be enormously concerned with how much we like one work or another. Rather, we will work on developing engaging and persuasive essays of various shapes and sizes, from the 250-word blog post to the 1,500-word think-piece.
The Journalist as Historian
Tuesdays, 1:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
A good work of history reads like a novel in which all the details are true. In this course, you will learn to frame a piece of history as a story, uncover sources, and transform evidence into an accurate narrative that casts the past and present in a new light. We will develop skills for finding and using archives, and for using sources including memoirs, newspapers, and popular culture to strengthen a story. With a focus on long-form writing, we will work on how to uncover the plot line in actual events and develop characters. To build a repertoire of techniques, we will look at fine historical writing, especially by journalists. Examining work on American race relations and the Israeli-Arab conflict, we will look at the relationship between facts, accepted narratives, and the writer's personal perspective - and at the impact of new writing on "what everyone knows." In short, we'll see how a writer can change history. In your own work, you will define a subject for a book-length work of history. You will then find sources and write one extended episode of the story. Finally, you will create a chapter outline and rewrite your episode in response to new sources and intensive workshop discussion of your writing. >By the end of the course, each student should have the materials for a book proposal, along with the skills for enriching magazine writing with reporting on the past.
Work published by previous students in this class:
- The Atlantic: The Leak that Lost the Space Race
- Newsweek: 30 Years After Bernhard Goetz, Subway Shooting Evokes Comparisons
- Private: Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks, and the Biggest Exposure of Official Secrets in American History
Mondays, 10:00 a.m - 1:00 p.m.
This course aims to deepen students' understanding of China and sharpen the ways we think and write about the country as journalists. The class involves wide and eclectic reading about China, which may include works of reportage, political science, history, sociology, business and economics. It requires that students read current coverage of China from a variety of leading Western and (in translation) Chinese media. A portion of each class will be set aside for a running comparative examination of this coverage. Written assignments will consist of off-the-news, collaboratively reported articles by students of current events, with voices drawn from both China and abroad. Students who have little or no past exposure to China are welcome, as are students with prior experience in China and of course Chinese students, as well. Whatever your background there will be plenty to engage you.
International Newsroom: Human Rights Reporting
Wednesdays, 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Journalists covering international and national social justice issues regularly encounter claims of human rights violations. The decades old human rights movement evolved from the scorched earth of the World Wars, when millions of refugees and survivors of genocide demanded justice. Current world crises from the Syrian Civil War to climate change to the persistent attacks on the rights of women have led to more demands for human rights. Nations seldom sanction themselves for violating the rights of citizens and refugees, and the international bodies formed to address human rights violations are often accurately described as toothless. In this course, we will look at human rights from a journalist’s perspective, and we will cover the efforts of the United Nations, NGOs, activists and human rights organizations to ensure human rights for all individuals. We will look at the history and evolution of today’s international human rights institutions, and their policies and shortcomings. And we will look at journalism’s role in human rights. Many examples exist showing that without reporting, human rights violations proceed without international condemnation. How are these issues best covered? What are best practices and ethical considerations? What tools and sources are most useful in reporting often complicated entanglements of human rights? What are our obligations to the most vulnerable? How can we represent victims of human rights violations ethically and with respect?
Wednesdays, 1:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
The food beat is a diverse one that can include stories about culture and family, public policy, health and science, immigration, business, or about food as food, from Hudson Valley apples to food-truck cuisine. This course introduces you to the myriad ways you can report on what we eat, whether it's a story on the sudden influx of decent tortillas in a neighborhood full of recent immigrants, or a feature on a farmer who's growing what she hopes will be the next kale; a trendy vegetable that helps her to sustain her business.
Food journalism requires vigorous reporting and offers the opportunity for observational work; it supports the feature writer as well as the investigative or data-driven journalist. You'll learn how to take a decent food photograph, and if you want to complement your work with video or audio we will find a way to add that to the mix.
The best work gets published on our class website, linked below, including a class project called New York Sits Down to Dinner, a themed look at the evening meal. Last year's project told the stories of NYC's restaurant workers, and the year before that we tackled food insecurity in a city where one in five people isn't sure where dinner's coming from. We've also found out what dinner means for people with iconic jobs; a Broadway dancer, a carriage driver, a cabbie, and more. Students also contribute to What We Savor, a collection of first-person essays about food that nourishes both body and soul, because it evokes strong personal memories.
Click on the links below to find these stories and others, as well as videos of guest speakers: chefs, restaurateurs, activists.
- New York Sits Down to Dinner 2017
- The Bouncing Ham: A Tale of Huge Pork Portions
- Minimum Wage Hikes May Cause Layoffs
- The New Food Advocacy: Everyone Gets a Seat at the Table
- The Once and Future Restaurateur
Multimedia Design and Storytelling
Mondays, 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
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.
Work by previous students in this class:
- NYC Men Won Lotto Hundreds of Times, Collected Millions
- The Afterlife of Injustice
- The Twisted World of Eric Schlosberg, New York's Fearless Young Designer
- Fun in the Post-Soviet Sun
- The End of the Merry-Go-Round?
- The Little Planet: A Travel and Lifestyle Story of Iceland
- Chico's Won 372 Times. The Lottery Doesn't Seem to Care
For the most part, spots in J-School classes are assigned to non-Journalism graduate students on a space available basis (with top priority given to IMC SIPA students).
To request cross-registration in a Journalism School course, please complete this form.
The form will be active as of Monday, January 8, at 10 a.m.
Please note that this is only a REQUEST and we cannot guarantee your request will be accommodated.
Cross-registration request forms are processed on a first come, first served basis.
If your form is submitted correctly you will receive a request confirmation e-mail within 24 hours. Please remember to include the @columbia.edu after your UNI.
You will NOT receive an e-mail from my office saying that your request was granted or not granted.
To learn if your request was granted, you must keep checking your class schedule on the web. All requests remain on file during the cross-registration period (January 8 - January 26 at 10 a.m.).
You do not need to submit multiple forms for the same cross-registration request. If I am able to grant requests I do it as soon as possible but sometimes it takes days for a space to open in a class. Sometimes the space never opens up.
Please remember that you are submitting a cross-registration REQUEST. There is no guarantee that I will be able to approve your request. Until you see a change reflected on your class schedule on STUDENT SERVICES ONLINE, your request has not been approved.
If you have more than one course for which you want to be considered, please submit a separate form for each class.
Also, please be certain that you are not requesting a class that conflicts with any of your other classes.
Direct any questions to Melanie Huff.