Cross-Registration Spring 2017

Graduate students from other Columbia Divisions/Schools looking to register for Spring 2017 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 9, at 10 a.m. and will close Friday, January 27, at 10 a.m. To cross-register, students must submit this form.

Class Offerings for Spring 2017



Covering Science (sec 011)

6 points

Randi Hutter Epstein

Mondays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Medical and public health stories shape the way people view health and disease, impact their relationships with physicians and influence their decisions about medical treatments. In this course, students learn to identify, report and write medical news stories and features. To do this well, students must develop a keen sense of audience as they translate complicated science, explain the ramifications of the scientific findings and incorporate historical context when appropriate. As part of the course, students will learn basic biostatistics, enough to be able to evaluate the significance of a scientific article. They will also critique medical and public health pieces for style, gleaning pearls of wisdom and spotting pitfalls. Most classes will include a guest—a scientific expert, patient or medical journalist.

Writing is rewriting. Most pieces will be workshopped and require a revision. Students will also be writing short pieces in class. The course will include two 800-word news pieces and several short assignments. In addition to readings (about three articles or book chapters per week), students will be expected to use time outside class for reporting and researching their stories. The final 1,200-word piece will focus on one topic. Students will be required to find a news angle and include both a human and basic science perspective. That is, if a student chooses to cover one disease, for instance, the final piece will include the patient experience, the clinician’s perspective as well as an explanation of the basic biology. Because the course is medicine and public health, students may choose from a vast array of topics, including environmental science. By the end of the semester, students should have a broader understanding of medicine and public health as well as solid tools to turn these ideas into engaging narratives.


Food Writing (sec 014)

6 points

Karen Stabiner

Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The food beat is a diverse one that includes 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.

We create a multimedia class project called “New York Sits Down to Dinner,” a themed look at the evening meal. Last year’s project addressed hunger in NYC. The year before that, we found out what dinner means for people with iconic jobs – a Broadway dancer, a carriage driver, a cabbie, and more.

Food journalism requires vigorous reporting and offers opportunity in every medium – observational writing and data-driven work, video, photos and audio. It supports the feature writer as well as the investigative journalist. The best work gets published on our class website, linked below.

Students can choose to participate in a video component, where you will work with a video instructor to produce two videos, one of which will replace a print assignment. There’s a print track as well. Last year, students partnered to produce complementary videos and print stories for New York Sits Down to Dinner.


Human Rights Reporting (sec 016)

6 points

Lonnie Isabel

Wednesdays, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Human rights stories develop on a massive stage, often with millions caught in the sweep of war, natural catastrophe, starvation, sectarianism and intractable conflict. And what constitutes the rights of all humans and what is a violation have been in virulent debate since the advent of civilization and diplomacy. But human rights abuses, regardless of their prevalence worldwide, happen to one person, one family at a time, tragically altering lives and perhaps history itself.

For journalists, human rights reporting has presented a chance to examine a society, a country, a regime by how it treats its most vulnerable, most powerless and most hated. In journalism history, some of the powerful and celebrated stories have been about human rights.

In this course, we will look closely at some of the best current and past human rights reporting. We will study the apparatus of human rights enforcement internationally, and through case studies look at how the process of intervention and investigation works or doesn’t. We will do our own stories, some with the UN as a base and others on human rights challenges domestically.

We’ll look at the role of NGOS, including those doing their own reporting on human rights, the plethora of relief agencies, and the geopolitical role of the United States as a traditional--some say hypocritical--leader in addressing human rights abuses. Our assignments will be original stories on human rights, including a profile of a human rights worker or activist under siege from a government or non-governmental player; a story about refugees; and a story about human rights of women and/or children.


Investigating Health Care (sec 018)

6 points

Charles Ornstein

Thursdays, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Exploding prescription drug prices. A mental health system in crisis. Consumers struggling to afford their health insurance premiums. These are among the issues that make taking this course in the spring semester such a great opportunity. You will learn how to navigate one of journalism's most complicated beats, all with an investigative reporter's eye. Individual classes will focus on hospitals, health professionals, our aging society, controversies in medicine, insurance companies, health reform and the pharmaceutical industry. We also will dissect the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and look at Donald Trump’s plan to repeal it. The course will explore many issues beyond health care, including politics, consumer affairs, finances, the law, ethics and demographics. Along the way, students will become skilled in using public records, understanding bureaucratic agencies and querying databases that can be put to use on practically any beat. Class assignments will require use of investigative skills, interviewing techniques and interaction with bureaucracies. You’ll work hard in this class but may leave with clips published in major U.S. media outlets.


Journalist as Historian (sec 023)

6 points

Gershom Gorenberg

Wednesdays, 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

A good work of history reads like a novel in which all the details are facts. In this course, students 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 we will look at how to use sources including memoirs, court records, newspaper reports, and popular culture.

To build a repertoire of techniques for long-form writing, we will take a close look at fine historical writing, and will look at ways to uncover a plot line and character development in actual events. Examining historical work on American race relations and on the Israeli-Arab conflict, we will look at the relationship between facts, accepted narratives, politics 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 quite literally change history.

In their own work, students will define the subject for a book-length work of history and write a working outline. They will then find sources and write one extended episode of the story, describing a particular moment, incident, character or development. Finally, they will rewrite the segment and fill out their initial outline in response to new sources and intensive workshop discussion of their 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. 


Sports Reporting (sec 033)

6 points

Jane McManus and Richard Deitsch

Wednesdays, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Sports occupies a special place in American society. Television props up its financial investment by giving sporting events–professional, college and high school–staggering blocks of time every day; many newspapers keep readers by devoting huge percentages of their daily news holes to local, national and international coverage. Sports talk radio and countless websites dissect every play, every individual and every move, often adding to the stifling pressure on athletes, coaches, owners and administrators. Sport has evolved into a complex part of American life that requires thinking, well-trained, well-read and fundamentally sound journalists. A sports journalist must be able to quickly and clearly tell readers and viewers what is happening on the field, on the court or on the track, and the modern sports journalist must have a solid background on issues as diverse as labor, medicine, performance enhancing drugs, stadium financing, race, Title IX, gender, masculinity, youth sports–and the daily police blotter. A sports journalist must understand the fascinating history of this world as well as social media and emerging trends and must continue the tradition of adding to some of the best writing, reporting and commentary in journalism. This course will address all of these matters and assign you to cover professional and college games; feature pieces; columns, as well as longer, issue-oriented takeouts and investigative stories dictated by the news.


Strategy & Editing in Social Platforms (sec 034)

6 points

Emily Bell

Mondays, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

This course is designed for students who are interested in gaining in-depth about how to set and implement social media strategies for newsrooms. Whilst all students should have learned the basics of newsgathering, reporting and publishing using social platforms and tools, this course is designed for those advanced students who wish to develop strategic and management skills in relation to the new tools and platforms. The course will teach a mixture of both practical skills which build on those students have already acquired as part of their reporting training, and a theoretical framework which teaches how the interaction of social creation and distribution channels and journalism are changing the broader ecosystem of news and information.

Expectations of the course are that students will learn how to generate and execute a strategy for both newsgathering and reporting through distributed platforms such as Medium, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and WhatsApp. The framework for the course will be a mixture of individual assignments and one group project which is designed to identify, design and reach a specific audience using third party platforms and production tools. Students will be expected to demonstrate a deep knowledge and fluency in different evaluation and measurement methods used for different purposes and for different impact, they will be able to demonstrate that they are able to think critically about which approaches serve ethical and robust reporting most effectively, and will be asked to demonstrate an understanding of how modern newsrooms strategize and organize their social media teams and their curation desks to produce high quality journalism. Part of the course will also encourage students to think critically about the benefits and challenges of maintaining publishing and editing infrastructure outside third party platforms, and how to work with constrained resources to make the right choices in terms of editing and publishing.

The class will draw heavily on guest speakers who are either in management or strategy roles within newsrooms and platform companies, who can offer insights into how their organization is using the social web to both, report and publish.

Assignments will be split into individual written assignments, and the group work. The groups will be of no less than three and no more than six, with an ideal size of four. Each group will start by identifying an editorial idea, and a market they wish to reach. Each week they will be required to publish and refine their project or story in accordance to the feedback they generate from everything that is published. In the final week groups will present their projects, and the observations they gathered throughout the process.




Transparency and Society (sec 001)

3 points

Michael Schudson

Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

This seminar focuses on the emergence of “accountability” as a key concept – not only in government but elsewhere in society in various movements toward assessment of institutions, even in the self-accountability of the “quantified self,” in a redefinition of the mission of journalism, and in all kinds of initiatives to keep corporations, and non-governmental organizations, and universities, and hospitals accountable to their public declarations.




Journalism & Public Life (sec 001)

3 points

Andie Tucher and Michael Schudson

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:40 a.m. to 12:55 p.m.

An introduction to the conventions, traditions, values, assumptions, and arguments that have shaped the institution of journalism and its central role in public life. Through close readings/viewings of current and classic works of journalism as well as secondary sources, we explore some of the Big Questions: What is journalism for? What is its role in public life, and how has that changed over time? Is objectivity dead--or should it be? How have new technologies affected our expectations? Is sensationalism bad for you? What is the future of journalism? The focus is on the American experience from the colonial era to the present day, though we will also draw comparisons with international developments. 



Registration Details

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 9, 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 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 9 - January 27 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.