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Undergraduate Bulletin 2007-2008
Bulletin Homepage |College of Arts & Sciences | Courses in Journalism

Courses in Journalism

A Jrl 100 Foundations of Journalism and Media Studies (3)

Introduction to journalism and mass media. This course will help students become more informed about media and introduce them to the major issues in journalism and media studies. Topics range from media history and the economic structure of the industry to broad questions about the impact of media on individuals and society. Also addressed will be ethical and legal issues related to media practices in newspapers, magazines, radio, television, the internet, advertising, and publications.

A Jrl 200/Z Introduction to Reporting and News Writing (3)

In this introductory workshop, students develop the skills of practicing reporters and news writers. They acquire the news judgment that allows them to identify what should be reported and written about, and they learn the fundamental forms of journalistic writing. Students familiarize themselves with journalistic sources and evaluate their reliability. They practice editing and revision and learn to use The Associated Press Stylebook.

A Jrl 220 Visual Culture (3)

The course explores the increasing predominance of visual media in contemporary life. It examines how traditional narrative forms of story telling are being replaced by visual forms of story telling in art, photography, film, television, the internet, video games, anime, graphic novels, and advertising. Particular attention will be paid to the global flow of visual culture and the technologies that facilitate these cultural exchanges. Readings include works by Walter Benjamin, Jean Baudrillard, Arjun Appadurai, Laura Mulvey, Susan Sontag, and others.

A Jrl 270/X Information Strategies for Journalists (Workshop) (3)

Students will work to improve their information literacy by learning how to identify and evaluate sources of information, including personal interviews, archival material, public records, and printed and electronic sources. Students will learn how to marshal statistical and numerical evidence while writing about complex issues of public importance. While developing their critical and interpretive skills, students will also explore the ethical and legal issues involved in using –or misusing– information. [GC]

A Jrl 300Z Journalism for Non-Majors (3)

For students interested, but not necessarily planning to major in journalism, this course offers an introduction to news, feature writing, opinion writing, broadcast journalism, web publishing, and related subjects. Students will write a variety of short assignments, some of them produced under deadline in the media classroom. [WI]

A Jrl 308Z (= A Eng 308Z) Narrative and Descriptive Journalism (3)

Students will explore a variety of journalistic styles, with emphasis on compelling narrative and description, combined with the skillful use of quotes and dialogue. The class features intensive critiques of students' work. A variety of formats will be studied: newspapers, magazines, non-fiction books, and online publications. Readings for the course include works by Janet Malcolm, Barbara Ehrenreich, Ellen Ullman, Mary Karr, Edward Abbey, Edmund Wilson, Michael Herr, and James Baldwin. Students submit weekly writing assignments and a final portfolio of edited work.

A Jrl 320 Media Law (3)

The First Amendment remains a concept unique in the world. No discussion of media law in American would be complete without understanding our Constitutional guarantees to freedom of speech and of the press. AT the same time –given the corporatization of modern media, conflicting regulatory demands, and global constraints on free speech- it is imperative that students understand the case law and legal precedents under which journalism is practiced. Topics include the historical development of First Amendment rights and of the laws governing libel, privacy, confidentiality, public access to information, fair trials, broadcasting, copyright, anti-trust, pornography, and other pertinent issues.

A Jrl 325 Media Ethics (3)

Students will explore the ethical dilemmas encountered by professional journalists. These revolve around conflicts of interest, differing interpretations of community standards, the right to privacy versus the public’s right to know, First Amendment guarantees of free speech, the constraints of corporate ownership, and evolving ideas of what constitutes acceptable journalist practices. Students are strongly encouraged as a prerequisite to take one of the Philosophy Department courses listed as A Phi 114, A Phi 115, or A Phi 212.

A Jrl 330 History of Journalism in the United States (3)

This course examines the development of journalism in the United States, emphasizing the role of the press as a social institution. Subjects covered include the function and purpose of the press, evolving definitions of news, changing interpretations of the First Amendment, and the ethical and legal dimensions of free speech. Also examined will be the social, economic, political, technological, and cultural forces that have shaped the practices of journalism today.

A Jrl 340 Global Perspectives on the News (3)

This course provides a global perspective on news production and the distribution of media around the world. After studying the political and legal constraints under which international media operate- including the operating procedures of American journalists working as foreign correspondents- the course will explore topics including censorship, information warfare, internet piracy, the blogsphere, and conflicts between national interests and the media technologies that are unconstrained by national borders. Readings include works by Marshall McLuhan, Umberto Eco, Benjamin Barber, Susan George, and others.

A Jrl 350/Y Journalistic Interviewing (3)

Students in this course will gain experience in journalistic interviewing. They will work on assignments in a variety of situations, including personal interviews, background interviews, cold calls, solicitations for comment, and repeat interviews to press for clarification or new information. Also discussed is this course are the ethics of journalistic interviewing and editing, as well as the legal issues involved in prior consent, release forms, taped interviews, and other journalistic practices. The course satisfies the Oral Discourage general education requirements. Prerequisite(s): A grade of B or higher in any A Jrl course at the 100-, 200-, or 300-level, or permission of the instructor. [OD]

A Jrl 355 Public Relations Writing (3)

Students are introduced to the history of Public Relations tracing its modern development in the twentieth century and current rise to political prominence. Topics to be discussed include branding, logos, packaging, and other corporate practices. Students will review the legal and ethical rules of governing PR. Only after exploring how the goals of PR may be antithetical to those of journalism, will students be asked to produce a variety of writing samples, including advocacy journalism, press releases, speeches, position papers, web content, and other forms of PR. Some of this work, simulating crisis management, will be produced on deadline.

A Jrl 360 Intermediate Reporting and News Writing (3)

Building on the techniques acquired in A Jrl 200, students will develop their news instincts and hone their reporting and writing skills. Much of the class will be spent developing “live” stories- covering events, interviewing subjects, scrutinizing news sources, or handling a “beat”. Students will produce news articles and feature stories like those expected of professional reporters with a modicum of experience in the field. Prerequisite(s): A Jrl 200Z.

A Jrl 364 & 365 Journalism: Special Topics (3)

Study of various issues in journalism. May be repeated when content differs. A Jrl 364Z and A Jrl 365Z are the writing intensive versions of A Jrl 364 and A Jrl 365. A Jrl 364 and A Jrl 365 do not meet the writing intensive requirement. Prerequisite(s): intended primarily for juniors and seniors and with permission of the program director.

Topics: Among the topics regularly offered under A Jrl 364 and 365 are the following:

“The Documentary Tradition in 20th Century American Prose and Photography” This lecture course studies the documentary tradition from classic American works in prose and photography through the latest innovations in using digital media.

“History of the American Press, 1833-1914” traces the development of the American print medium from the advent of the Penny Press through the influence of the muckrakers. It examines this evolving press in terms of its role in issues of public policy, gender, race and culture, thus providing an insight into the roots of contemporary American journalism.

“Media Law and Ethics” examines the current state of media law and ethics, with some attention also given to the historical roots. Topics include: First Amendment, conflicts between the values of a free press and a fair trial, libel, invasion of privacy, protection of confidential sources and information, freedom of information, copyright, telecommunications, and ethical dilemmas.

“Media Criticism” explores content and context of print journalism. Why do some stories get printed while others do not? Whose voices are heard and who is silenced? How do newsroom decision influence the audience? Do editorial and advertising pages represent the reader differently? Do readers have avenues of recourse? Should they? Close reading and writing assignments.

“The American News Media in the Twentieth Century” This lecture course surveys the historical development of the twentieth century of radio, television, newspapers and magazines, and digital media; to a lesser extent, it also addresses films, books publishing, public relations, and advertising.

“Images of Journalism in Literature and Film” explores several depictions of American journalism and journalists in a variety of genres, including novels, short stories, nonfiction, and films. Diverse images of journalists are followed from early colonial America to today.

A Jrl 364Z & 365Z Journalism: Special Topics (3)

May be repeated when content differs. A Jrl 364Z and 365Z are the writing intensive versions of A Jrl 364 and 365. Prerequisite(s): A Jrl 300Z. Intended primarily for juniors and seniors and with permission of the program director. [WI]

Topics: Among the topics regularly offered under A Jrl 364Z and 365Z are the following:

“Environmental Journalism” is a reporting and writing workshop that examinees a wide variety of issues in media coverage of such subjects as nuclear waste disposal, alternative fuels research, global warming, saving endangered areas and species, and “nimby” (not-in-my-backyard) controversies. Intended for students in Journalism and Earth & Atmospheric Sciences but open to anyone with an interest in the subject.

“Writing Reviews, Editorials, and Columns” is a writing course in which students study and write pieces of subjective journalism, such as personal columns, arts reviews, editorials, and others.

“Computer-Assisted Journalism” introduces students to the concepts of computer-assisted reporting (CAR), fast becoming as fundamental a reporting tool as the telephone, and teaches the basic uses of spreadsheets, databases and the Internet for journalism.

“Editing for the News Media” demonstrates that editing is less an exercise in grammar and punctuation and more one in critical thinking. Editing and writing exercises and class discussion will grapple with what makes something news and what is the clearest way to express that to the readers.

“Science Journalism” This workshop introduces students to reporting on and writing about a variety of current issues in science, medicine, technology, and the environment.

“Photojournalism” This workshop, taught in a digital media lab, introduces students to photojournalism as practiced in newspapers, magazines, and digital media. Students should be able to demonstrate a basic competency in photography; those who have not taken previous photography coursework may have to present a portfolio for evaluation before being admitted.

“Digital Media Workshop” This course focuses on digital journalism, including such subjects as desktop publishing, writing HTML, and creating and maintaining Websites. It is intended for anyone who is interested in the process, design, presentation, and implementation of message-making through text, charts, symbols, signs, and computer screens/interfaces.

“Public Relations Workshop” This workshop will introduce students to a variety of functions and writing activities found in modern public relations, such as managing internal and external communications, identifying appropriate audiences, developing plans for public relations campaigns, writing press releases and other documents, handling communications in a crisis situation, and managing media relations.

A Jrl 366/Z Magazine Writing (3)

This course gives students experience in conceptualizing, researching, writing, rewriting, and submitting for publication different types of articles that are found in magazines, webzines, and the features section of newspapers. Ethical issues and writer-editor relationships are also examined. Students write several articles of varying length and complete other assignments, such as writing query letters and analyzing magazine content.

A Jrl 370/Z Reporting on Science and Technology (3)

A foundations course in writing about science and technology- two forces that play an increasingly dominant role in modern life. Students will learn how to evaluate scientific claims and distinguish the relative importance of technological advances in fields ranging from computers and telecommunications to biotechnology, nano-scale research, and environmental studies. Ethical issue surrounding military research, patents, copyrights, and intellectual property will also be explored. Weekly reading and writing assignments.

A Jrl 380 Photojournalism (3)

Students develop the critical skills for evaluating and the technical skills for producing, editing, and publishing digital photographs in a variety of formats, including traditional newspapers, satellite transmissions from the field, and internet web sites. While developing their aesthetic and technical skills, students will critique each other’s photos in a workshop format.

A Jrl 385 Broadcast Journalism (3)

Students will report, write, produce, air, and record a variety of television and radio news stories with a degree of professionalism resembling what might be found in local newscasts, whether they be short reports or longer, feature-length stories. Working individually or in groups, students will use analog and digital video technologies and recording devices to produce their stories.

A Jrl 390 Digital Media Workshop I: Web Publishing (3)

This workshop teaches the editing and design skills required to produce literary websites, webcasts, blogs, and other forms of online digital journalism. The class is taught as a hands-on workshop in a digital classroom. Students, working on individual and team projects, will produce digital media using a variety of tools, ranging from Photoshop and Flash to Dreamweaver and HTML.

A Jrl 392 Digital Media Workshop II: Desk-Top Publishing (3)

This course develops the skills required for writing, editing, designing, and publishing on the web, primarily webzines, and internet news sites. This hands-on workshop is taught in a digital media lab. Working individually and in teams, students will produce and publish three major media projects.

A Jrl 397 Independent Study of Journalism (1–4)

A project in journalistic investigation and writing, or a study of some specific body of journalism sponsored by a faculty member and approved by the director of journalism. May repeated for credit. Prerequisite(s): intended primarily for juniors and seniors and with permission of the program director.

A Jrl 410 Images of Journalism in Film (3)

This course explores the depiction of American journalism and journalists in a variety of fictional films and selected works of prose. Students study the history of filmed representations of journalists; they also study the images that journalists have presented of themselves and their profession. The course does not involve journalistic report and writing, but it does require close analysis of films, attentive reading, participation in class discussions, and a willingness to explore.

A Jrl 420 Political Economy of the Mass Media (3)

The course examines the production, distribution, and consumption of media, and how these social constraints shape the news, images, and cultural artifacts that surround us. Proceeding by case-study analyses of various cultural industries, including publishing, broadcasting, and other mass media, the course will examine topics including global marketing and branding, media corporatization, and other links between our cultural experience and the modern political economy. Readings of works by Herbert Schiller, Elizabeth and Stuart Ewen, Robert McChesney, Joseph Stiglitz, Katha Pollitt, and others.

A Jrl 460 Advanced Reporting and News Writing (3)

After prior work in lower-level courses, students in this advanced workshop will develop their skills as investigative reporters and writers of news stories and articles that are thoroughly researched and compellingly written. Students may choose to write and rewrite one article throughout the semester or a cluster of articles on related subjects. Students are expected to develop a sense of journalistic tenacity and appreciation for applied research. They will learn how to develop a story through multiple drafts and how to produce articles that are noteworthy for their journalistic flair, emotional impact, or informative power.

A Jrl 465 Opinion Writing (3)

This workshop gives students experience in writing a variety of journalistic pieces normally found in the opinion sections of newspapers, magazines, and online sites. Among the types of articles students will produce are personal columns, move and music reviews, and editorials. Students will also read widely among the best practitioners of opinion writing, from Maureen Dows and Molly Ivins to H.L. Mencken and Hunter Thompson.

A Jrl 468/Z Literary Journalism (3)

This course invites students to read literary journalism and to write their own literary essays. Readings include works by Daniel Defoe, Charles Dickens, Samuel Clemens, Stephen Cane, Janet Flanner, Lillian Ross, Rebecca West, John Hersey, James Agee, Dorothy Day, Meridel LeSueur, Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Tracy Kidder, and others. While reflecting on the relations between journalism and literary fiction and nonfiction, students will complete bi-weekly assignments.

A Jrl 470 Advanced Reporting on Science and Technology (3)

The successor to A Jrl 370Z, the introductory course on science writing and technology. Students will be expected to produce a sustained, well-researched and argued body of work on a scientific domain or domains of their choosing. Acceptable topics include computers and information, public health, medicine, biotechnology, nano-scale research, and environmental studies. Weekly reading and writing assignments, the latter sometimes consisting of outlines or drafts of loner work in progress.

A Jrl 475 Topics in Journalism (3)

This course may be either an intensive skills-oriented workshop or a conceptual course on a topic in journalism that bears serious study. More than one section may be offered in a semester.

A Jrl 480/Z Public Affairs Journalism (3)

The Capital District offers a unique laboratory for reporting on public affairs at all levels, from the local to the national. These include governmental affairs, but also judicial matters, relations between New York State and the State’s indigenous Indian tribes, and policy issues concerning medicine, technology, business, and education. Public affairs journalism is now part of a large debate about the lengths to which journalists should go in hosting community events and creating an informed citizenry. Along with numerous writing assignments, students will engage in wide reading of journalists who have staked out positions to this debate and operated effectively as reports or advocates in the public arena.

A Jrl 490 E-zine: Online Magazine Workshop (3)

E-zines, defined here as magazines published on the World Wide Web, are flourishing in the rapidly expanding domain of electronic journalism. This now includes blogs, webcasts, internet news services, and other specialized sites. The workshop is devoted to publishing several issues of an online magazine, which will include articles, images, graphics, and other interactive features. Students will work in teams to do the reporting, writing, editing, layout, design, coding, and publishing of these web-based e-zines.

A Jrl 495 Internship in Journalism (3-6)

The course is limited to Journalism majors and minors. Internships in a variety of media are offered for variable credit. The internship requires that students work on-site in a professional media organization, under the direct supervision of a qualified supervisor. A faculty supervisor will also design an academic component for the internship, based on readings, daily journals, and the writing of papers that analyze and reflect on the work experience. The faculty supervisor will meet regularly with interns, both individually and as a group. The Journalism Program Director will establish the specific requirements that must be fulfilled to receive credit for this course. Internships are open only to qualified juniors and seniors who have an overall grade point average of 2.50 or higher. Prerequisite(s): permission of faculty supervisor. S/U graded.

A Jrl 497 Independent Study in Journalism (1-3)

For variable credit (1-3), students in Journalism pursue an independent project under the supervision of a full time faculty member. A students might use this course to enhance a portfolio, gain expertise in journalistic practices, research a special topic, or complete work on a major assignment. An application to a faculty member is required. A written agreement outlining the goals and work to be completed during the independent study is also required. The course is limited to seniors with prior journalism experience, although they do not have to be a Journalism major or minor.

A Jrl 499 Senior Honors Project in Journalism (3)

Students will define, develop, research, and write or produce in electronic or visual form an individual project of serious merit. The project is intended to demonstrate the range of skills acquired during the student’s training in Journalism. The project should also demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the ethical and legal issues of the profession. Work on the project will be supervised by advanced arrangement with a faculty member. The decision on whether a student’s final project merits receiving Honors in Journalism will be made by the faculty of the Journalism Program.