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Course Curriculum

Urban Reporting Courses - Spring 2014

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J24 Freshman Seminar: Incarceration - Spring 2014

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J219 MINI: The Journalist as Freelancer (7 Weeks) - Spring 2014

Class Dates:
A seven week mini-course that will provide students with basic skills that will help them understand building a freelance career; copyright, grants, accounting,taxes and insurance, pay, query letters and life questions that freelancers face. Taught by faculty member Ken Light with guest lecturers each discussing real life issues and solutions from the world of writing, documentary film, photography, cultural and magazine reporting and new media. Guest lecturers will be Andy Gilbert who has covered music, modern dance and film and is a regular contributor to the Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, San Diego Union-Tribune and Contra Costa Times. His CD reviews air monthly on KQED's "California Report.", Elizabeth Fishel who has written for Vogue,New York Magazine, Redbook as well as four books and Dan Krauss a film director and cinematographer nominated for an Academy Award, and who has also worked as a professional photojournalist for nearly a decade, shooting assignments thought the US, as well as in Africa and the Middle East.


J227 Reporting on Arts and Culture - Spring 2014

With newspapers and general audience magazines devoting less and less space to arts and culture, the need for intelligent, informed and thought-provoking cultural coverage is more important than ever. The course is designed to give students a broad range of experiences writing about an array of cultural expression. Assignments will include coverage of literature, film, music, dance, theater, and visual arts via reviews on deadline. The class will also offer an intensive on the art of profile writing. Reporting will focus on the Bay Area’s rich cultural scenes while also keeping on an eye on national and international movements and events.

The course will grapple with many of the challenges and issues inherent in writing about arts and culture. Is objectivity appropriate or possible for a critic? What standards do you use as a reviewer, and who is your audience? When, if ever, is it advisable or required for a reviewer to discuss his or her own identity in writing about a work? How do you maintain a measured tone in a media environment saturated by hype? Does writing about popular art forms mean surrendering to the lure of celebrity culture? Is it possible to get too close to a profile subject?

The class will also explore many practical concerns of arts and culture reporters, from getting access to artists, the challenge of acquainting oneself with a huge body of work in short period of time, tips on building a freelance career, and how to use (and not use) publicists and press agents. Working editors, journalists and artists will join the class for Q&A sessions. Students involved in print, radio, magazine, multimedia and TV/documentary are welcome.

Weeks 2-7 focus on the craft of reviewing, with a series of rapid assignments where students experience various art forms and respond with a 250-500 word review written overnight, or within two or three days. Depending on publication and performance schedules in the fall, students will review a novel, a film, a play, a dance performance, a concert, and an art exhibition. Among the questions the course will explore are: Why write a review? Who is your audience? What are you trying to say? Is the event worth seeing/reading/experiencing? Reviews give a writer a chance to voice an opinion, but judgments should come with evidence to back up assertions. When is it advisable to inject topical events into reviews?

The course is designed as a writing intensive workshop. The students read each other’s work and analyze what makes an interesting, informative review. Throughout this section, the class will consider philosophical questions about the nature of reviewing and practical questions about writing lucid and vivid prose. Writings by leading critics will also be assigned.

Weeks 8-9 look at how the medium shapes the message. How does covering an event for a weekly differ from writing for a blog? Each student is assigned to cover an event or artist and produce pieces for two or three different media. The course will examine the particular demands and attractions of different media, including periodicals, magazines, weekly and daily newspapers, podcasts, on-line publications and blogs.

Weeks 10-15 focus on producing an in-depth 1,500-2,000-word profile or feature on an artist or scene. Students will write a pitch for the piece, develop sources and conduct background research, arrange to spend time with the subject and conduct an in-depth interview. The profile will include an assessment of subject’s work. Students are welcome to build on their work from the previous sections. Students will be encouraged to seek out publications to publish their assignments, and the class will devote time to the art of pitching and developing story ideas.

J230 To Catch a Thief: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Business--Cancelled - Spring 2014

News of the summer – recession, joblessness, Wall Street reform, banking regulation, and hopes for a business rebound – are all trends that affect the Bay Area. Breaking local business news linked to these trends is the goal of J230.
Take a look at any journalism job site -- such as Gorkana Journalism Jobs Alert – and you’ll see that much of the hiring in journalism now comes from business and finance publications.
The goal of our class is to write great stories, to get those stories posted, and to use those clips to apply for and land key internships and jobs that can jump start your career.
Business writing in Fall 2010 will give you opportunities to showcase your reporting and writing skills for the hyper local web sites – Mission Local, Oakland North and Richmond Confidential . Select stories will be pitched to The Bay Citizen.
Signing up for J230 is a wise choice for graduate students who want to sharpen their job strategy. Having business reporting experience and clips as a part of your repertoire can enhance you as a job candidate with the versatility and sophistication to handle any task, and embrace any reporting assignment.
During the semester, you’ll become more comfortable writing about money, corporate finance, and the economy. You will familiarize yourselves with financial reporting, business news and economic developments. You’ll be able to read and evaluate earnings reports, new product pitches, layoff and employment news. You’ll also develop a rigorous analysis and sophisticated style that will enhance the professionalism of your CV as you take on the job market.
Besides all this, business beats offer a broad canvas for your reporting, investigative, explanatory and feature writing skills. The Bay Area is a cradle of exciting entrepreneurial businesses, and the hub of high technology industries that are key to the California and the national economy. At the same time, our diverse populations are struggling with unemployment during the current recession. Students can seize opportunities to break news on the business communities we cover. And J230 can put you into the universe of business and economic news of critical concern to the regions and readers we serve.
Expectations: This is a practical class so we won’t have a lot of textbook assignments. Students will be expected to read the business sections of local and national media, to spot trends that relate local developments into the broader national picture.
Students will select an area on which to focus: The Mission, Oakland or Richmond, and develop a business beat of their choosing from the industries and commercial entities most important to those communities, which we will discuss in class.
Students will be expected to do key reporting in person, with supplementary phone reporting, so please expect class to require a modest amount of travel by public transit or by car. (If this poses a financial hardship, please see me during office hours to make arrangements to get you to your interviews.)
Developing concise 3 paragraph proposals or pitches for your editor will be stressed. Filing on deadline, proofing your copy, triple checking all facts and reconfirming quotes with your sources -- in short, owning your stories -- are all expected as normal part of business in daily journalism. It will be the norm for our class as well.
To get the flavor of diverse and colorful business writing opportunities on our home turf, please check out the terrific our J230 students have posted on Mission Loc@l:
“At Mission Federal Credit Union, Saving is Child’s Play”
by Alexa Vaughn,
“Small Businesses Await Details of Obama Loan Plan”
by Alexa Vaughn
“Fluther Flourishes”
by Angela Kilduff
“New Digs and New Directions for Timbuk2”
by Angela Kilduff
“Flour and Water Ingredients for Success in the Mission”
by Leah Bartos

The Grad Student Researcher for J 230 will be Alexa Vaughn.
Office hours will be 1pm to 2 pm and by arrangement with me.
We look forward to seeing you all on Thursdays 2 pm to 5 pm.

J234 International Reporting: India - Spring 2014

The restless republic: Emerging India is being shaped by an aspiration-fuelled demographic change that is redefining politics, the economy, society, nationalism, even insurgencies. With more people under 30 than any other nation in the world, the old, eternal India is being swept aside with unanticipated speed. Riding on greater mobile-phone connectivity, television, mobility and migration, aspiration has become the country’s defining mood.

Yet, India has more poor, malnourished and poorly educated people than any other nation. The course will discuss how these two opposing forces are playing out against each other in a country that, while globalizing, is clinging to and adapting ancient traditions to the new world. The course will have a special focus on issues related to aspiration, poverty, reform, technology and religion. It will also explore how the world’s other emerging markets can be compared with its largest democracy.

J255 Ethics, Law and Public Purpose - Spring 2014

see syllabus

J294 Master's Project Seminar--click for CCN - Spring 2014

J294 is a 2 semester course (1 unit/Fall, 1 unit/Spring). You must register for both semesters and it must be taken for a grade.

J297 Internship Credit - Spring 2014

Students receive one or two units of credit for the internships. Documentation required from both the student and from supervisor regarding internship responsibilities, hours, etc.

Second Year Students will sign up for this class to receive credit for their summer internship requirement.

J298 Reporting and Editing for the San Quentin News - Spring 2014

Forthcoming.

J298 Reporting on Public Health and Medicine - Spring 2014

This course will provide a basic background for students interested in covering public health and medical issues. It will stress the importance of incorporating a broad social perspective in reporting on stories about health. The course will help students understand the challenges and complexities of the field and will provide tools for developing story ideas and wading through the massive amounts of information—and disinformation--out there. The class will examine key public health concepts and debates. We will also spend a lot of time discussing the role of the media in disseminating health information and examining coverage of major issues. Students will produce several health-related pieces in a variety of genres. Readings will include studies from medical and public health journals, critiques of how the media cover health issues, and newspaper and magazine articles on a variety of health topics.