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Undergraduate Bulletin 2009-2010

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 200Z 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.

T JRL 220 Visual Culture (3)
T JRL 220 is the Honors College version of A JRL 220; only one version may be taken for credit.

A JRL 230Z The Mass Media and War in U.S. History (3)
This course explores the roles, functions, and responsibilities of the mass media in times of war from a historical perspective. It focuses primarily on the news media and may also give some attention to entertainment media. Questions raised include: what impact have reporters' struggle for access and the government's struggle for control of information had on reporting methods and ultimately, on the news product? What has been the relationship between media representations of war and public attitudes toward war? And, how may have popular media constructed/influenced the way Americans remember and memorialize war? Relevant periods may include the Revolutionary and Civil Wars; World Wars I and II; and Korean, Vietnam, and Iraq Wars.

T JRL 230Z The Mass Media and War in U.S. History (3)
T JRL 230Z is the Honors College version of A JRL 230Z; only one version may be taken for credit.

A JRL 270/270X Information Strategies for Journalists (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.

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.

A JRL 308Z (= A ENG 308Z) Narrative 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. Prerequisite(s): A JRL 200Z.

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, 115, or 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 350Y 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 in 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. Prerequisite(s): a grade of B or higher in any A JRL course at the 100, 200, or 300 level, or permission of instructor.

A JRL 355 Public Relations Writing (3)
Students are introduced to the history of Public Relations tracing its modern development in the 20th 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 364/364Z Journalism: Special Topics (3)
Study of various issues in journalism. May be repeated for credit if content varies. Prerequisite(s): intended primarily for juniors and seniors.

A JRL 365/365Z Journalism: Special Topics (3)
Study of various issues in journalism. May be repeated for credit if content varies. Prerequisite(s): intended primarily for juniors and seniors. 

A JRL 366/366Z 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. Prerequisite(s): A JRL 200Z.

A JRL 370/370Z Reporting on Science & 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 385/385Y 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. Prerequisite(s): A JRL 200Z.

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 be 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 460Z 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. Prerequisite(s): A JRL 200Z, 270X, and either 308Z, 360Z, or 366Z.

A JRL 465Z 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 Dowd and Molly Ivins to H.L. Mencken and Hunter Thompson.

A JRL 468/468Z 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 470Z 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, nanoscale research, and environmental studies. Weekly reading and writing assignments, the latter sometimes consisting of outlines or drafts of longer work in progress.

A JRL 475/475Z 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. May be repeated for credit if content varies. Prerequisite(s): A JRL 200Z or 270X.

A JRL 480/480Z 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 482 Social Documentary Photography (3)
Students will research and photograph a social documentary issue as part of a project that will be sustained throughout the semester. Students should have a working knowledge of computers and of the fundamentals of digital camera operation. Since there is a photography component to the class, students will be required to have available for their use a digital SLR camera with a zoom lens and flash. In addition, this class will trace the history and origins of social documentary photography from its earliest occurrences through modern times, including examinations of work being done by contemporary photographers. Prerequisite(s): AJRL 380 or permission of instructor.

A JRL 490Z 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. Prerequisite(s): either A JRL 308Z, 366Z, 380, or 390.

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 student 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.