This seminar will give students the opportunity to pursue individual investigative stories in the public interest. It will be run as a series of practical workshops, delving into the gritty details of each student's project. Students will be taken through the crucial steps of investigative reporting, from finding a story, preferably within the region, to making the pitch to researching and organizing it into a compelling narrative worthy of publication in a prominent media outlet.
Travel Seminar to Israel and the Palestinian TerritoriesInstructor Tim McGirkFall SemesterMeeting once a week, for two hours This is a 15-week seminar offered in the fall that culminates in a weeklong reporting trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories, excluding Gaza. The class, of no more than 15 students, will divide into two reporting teams. Each team will tackle a major topic or event – to be decided before we head out there in December. The weeks leading up to departure will be spent selecting these two topics and doing ample pre-reporting. Each week in class we’ll have a guest speaker, notable Israeli and Palestinian opinion-makers, thinkers, and writers coming to us via Skype or in person. Some will be controversial. The idea of this class is to shake up your preconceptions so that you begin to see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through its many facets. The cost to each student will be $500. Otherwise all expenses of the trip, including airfare, lodging, travel, and food will be covered. One hitch: this trip is being hosted by the Jerusalem Press Fund, whose stated mission is to educate journalists about issues affecting Israel and its Arab neighbors. That said, the Fund’s has assured us that we would have full input on where we go in Israel and in the West Bank and to whom we talk. Also, we would maintain full editorial control of our stories. Another campus that participated in this program, and was equally wary of the possible spin put on this trip by our hosts, said that on the whole, the approach was balanced between the Israeli and Palestinian viewpoints. The Fund’s involvement is limited to logistics and to setting up the itinerary. Sometimes gaining access, to a place, or to people, comes with strings attached. Usually, the organization that is willing to take you has its own motivations for doing so. Military embeds are one example. This trip should be seen in the same light. We feel that it could be a useful exercise in learning how to keep your reporting clear-eyed when there’s a good chance you’re being spun.
In recent years, students have enrolled in courses that have taken them to nearly two dozen countries. Students also find they can organize and conduct reporting trips abroad with the help of travel grants provided by the School or by individual faculty members.
For the classes structured specifically around travel, admission is by application. Students spend time in the classroom, preparing for the travel portion of the class; they generally then go on the road during winter break, spring break or early summer. The classroom emphasis is on reporting and the culture and history of the place they will visit, and on the privilege and responsibility of working as a journalist overseas. Issues like reporting with appropriate cultural sensitivity, working with translators and other international partners, and getting the necessary information in an unfamiliar setting are all addressed before the travel portion of the course.
Students may also apply for travel grants to work on individual projects with faculty advisors. The Travel Grant Program supports domestic and international travel. Having come through the School’s immersive first semester in intensive reporting, students may be encouraged to widen their competencies by traveling domestically or internationally either with a travel class or on a travel grant.
December 1st at 8:59 pm PST
Application available now.