Course Descriptions

Click to download the full schedule of Fall 2014 journalism classes. Please contact your advisor if you have any questions about the schedule.

197A Journalism Success (Fox, Roche)

This course will introduce students to the traditions and expectations of the Journalism Program, as well as resources and opportunities that will help them as they move through the major. Through workshops and exercises, students will meet faculty, get to know campus media and career services staff, learn about the writing and academic expectations of the program.

201 Introduction to Journalism (Pasha, Perkins, McDermott)

In this course, we will study the principles and practices of journalism as well as journalism's role in a democratic society. We will explore journalism's impact on public policy, private lives, and the increasing role of citizens within the context of the contemporary convergence of multimedia. Class discussions will address the historical development and future of the field, including new technologies and changing strategies. Techniques, methods, and models guiding the contemporary practice of journalism will be given particular emphasis. We will cover news, feature, and profile writing, cultural commentary, op-ed, and narrative journalism. The fundamental skills of a journalist will be introduced, including research and interviewing, fact-checking and attribution, style and persona. Guest speakers may include journalists who can speak to specialized areas of journalism.

225 Readings in Journalism (Sibii, McBride, Perkins)

Throughout this course, students will read works from journalists from a variety of genres to gain insight on how they gathered and reported news and information. From the drama of covering the 9/11 terrorist attacks, to covering Hillary Clinton's historic Senate race and the development of an entirely different type of journalism online in the form of blogging, students will examine the techniques and ethical mores utilized by those who gather, write, broadcast and post information.

300 Newswriting and Reporting (Carey, Forcier, Perkins, Tuttle, Parnass)

Journalism 300 is required of all majors. This course introduces students to basic reporting and newswriting skills, including interviewing, researching public records, fact-checking and covering spot news, obituaries, speeches, court cases, public meetings and other hard news. This class includes numerous in-class and out-of-classroom  reporting and writing assignments. The Associated Press Stylebook is taught. The class takes place in a computer lab, and fulfills the Junior Year Writing requirement.

301 Introduction to Multimedia Reporting (Roche, Tuttle, Brodeur)

This class enables students to build on the reporting and writing skills learned in Journalism 300, while gaining the technical skills for storytelling in online platforms, such as basic web production, using digital images, and creating audio podcasts. Students write in-depth stories on topics of serious public concern that may include education,  the environment, the economy and technology. Students learn how to find and use government and advocacy group sources, and how to navigate the wealth of online data and documents. Students gain experience and confidence in reporting, writing and revising longer news stories. This course is a prerequisite for more advanced multimedia courses. 

310 Going Global: Changes in International Journalism (Pasha)

This course explores the challenges and issues facing journalists covering global affairs. Students will explore intercultural communication, overcoming biases in reporting, the use of social media to serve as a platform for news reporting, and examine the work of foreign correspondents from a critical perspective. Through a mixture of readings and news writing, the course will also broaden students understanding of current affairs on the global stage.

320 History of American Journalism (List, Sims)

We will examine the major innovations and styles in journalism, including the historical context into which print fits, the arrival of press freedom, the invention of faster presses, the Penny Press of the 1840s, the story press period in the 1890s, and the Muckrakers, objective reporters, investigative journalists, the literary journalists of the 20th century and today, and the arrival of the Internet. The institutional framework for journalism, including the First Amendment and the business structures of publications, will fill out the historical context in which these innovations took shape. We will have a special interest in the history of technologies in journalism. Textbook: Michael Schudson, Discovering the News; A Social History of American Newspapers.  

333 Introduction to Digital Photojournalism (McDermott, Vandal)

This is an introductory level course for students who wish to acquire a working knowledge of the field of photojournalism and the various tools used in modern image processing for both print and online media. Covered topics will include basic camera and lens techniques, exposure issues, composition and depth of field, digital image processing with Photoshop, news, feature, and sports photography, ethics, and credibility in the age of the digital image. Students must own or borrow a digital SLR camera with manual functions.

335 Principles of Public Relations

This course addresses the principles and practices of public relations, examines strategic communication on behalf of organizations and individuals (public and private; for profit and nonprofit). We will analyze the historical evolution and current trends in technological media and strategic communication development, and explore both global, local and regional public relations practices, exploring how cross-cultural literacy is vital to understanding socio-cultural perspectives, perception and behavior. Course includes lectures, readings, multimedia viewings and student-engaged, collaborative and (classroom and online) blended learning methods.

345 Media Criticism (Whitehead, Sibii)

This course does not bash journalists as hopelessly biased or incompetent. Rather, it seeks to impart such things as thinking skills and media literacy. Students can expect this course to cover some, but not all, of the following topics: the causes -- technological, economic, cultural, ideological -- of the historic upheaval now occurring in American journalism; some of the crucial elements of the upheaval; and how this upheaval is affecting both the role of the individual journalist and the mission of journalism; the concept of framing; the evolution of the concept of "objectivity"; the critique of newsworthiness; media representations; concentration of media ownership; net neutrality; theories of media effects; and media business models."

391R Travel Writing & Photojournalism (Newton/Connare)

Travel Writing and Photojournalism in Sicily is a 3- credit course offered during the spring semester. Students accepted into the program meet twice weekly to study the fundamentals of travel writing and/or basic photography. They will be preparing for a 10 day travel experience to the Italian island of Sicily. During the week of Spring Break we will travel throughout the island (accompanied by professional guides) photographing and experiencing the people and the landscape. Students will also keep a reporters notebook to record their day to day impressions. Upon return, they will complete either a 10 to 15 page travel article or learn to use Adobe Photoshop to produce a portfolio of 15 photographs taken during the trip. Students must apply and be accepted into the course during the Fall semester. Applications are available here.

392F Florida: The News Capital of the U.S. (Blais)

Since the sixties, the state of Florida and the city of Miami in particular have been ground zero for news events that have had far-reaching national and international repercussions. Each week we will examine at least one such moment in Florida's history and / or its present, with an eye toward understanding the ways in which the state is likely to shape Presidential politics in 2012.

392M Intro to Nonfiction Writing (Sims)

This course introduces the practice of literary journalism, narrative writing, and the writing techniques that make it possible. Writing assignments include reviews, travel, and cultural reporting. Your reports will have some profound differences from standard newspaper articles, chief among them that you will be a presence or an active participant in the text. Your writing will attempt to provide more than information for readers. The readings provide models for nonfiction writing, introduce important writers, and give advice and guidance.  This course is a partial online blended class where some lectures, readings, and discussions will take place online through the Spark system.

393B Philosophy of Journalism (McBride)

Blends ancient wisdom with modern film in hopes of provoking original thoughts from students about the present and future for journalism and themselves. In this age, when cynicism rules, this course seeks to engender hope and solutions from the only place it can come from—you!

393F Journalists in the Movies (Katzenbach)

They can be heroes; they can be villains. They can be ruthless; they can be sympathetic. They can be right; they can be wrong – and perhaps sometimes a bit of both. Since the first film director yelled “Action!” on a studio back lot, journalists of all sorts – local reporters, television news crews, even foreign correspondents – have been staples of the Hollywood milieu. The movies that have emerged have done much to define how people view journalists and continue to inform those opinions – both positive and negative – today. In an examination of selected films from the 1930s to current times, this class will explore perceptions of reporters, and reporters’ choices through the prism of the big screen. Films to be seen will range from All The President’s Men to The Year of Living Dangerously. Readings likely to include such works as Schanberg: The Death and Life of Dith Pran; Caputo: Means of Escape.

393N Radio Reporting and Podcasting (Cohen)

This course introduces students to writing and reporting for radio or podcasting. Students will practice pitching stories, arranging and  conducting interviews, as well as writing and mixing radio scripts.   The course explores how writing in broadcast journalism differs from print. Students will  practice writing in a conversational style that works for “the ear."  This is a “hands-on” course that requires students to report, record and write several stories on deadline. It’s designed to give students  the confidence to pursue audio stories for broadcast or the web.

393S Sports Journalism (Fox)

A hands-on course aimed at how to write, edit and cover sports stories. Interviewing skills will be honed in this class, and you will need a flexible schedule in order to cover games outside of classes. Students will learn to write a variety of stories ranging from straight game stories to previews to features and breaking news. Students will read and analyze successful writing styles from sportswriters in all mediums, including broadcast and the web.

Journal 394C Community Journalism Project (McBride)

The Community Journalism Project is a four-credit intermediate reporting calss that sends students into ghettos, barrios, and poor white and working class communities of Western Massachusetts. Journalists have become increasingly out of touch with the majority of the population. The working class, the poor, minorities are often overlooked in the mainstream media. This course puts students into the homeless shelters, food pantries, health clinics, community centers, public schools, and low-wage job sites in hope of finding solutions and answers from the real experts. Intensive field work, substantial newswriting, and devotion to reading comprise the calculus of this course.

395N Broadcast News Reporting (Madsen)

The is a hands on course where students will produce television news stories for broadcast on UVC 19. Students will be divided into groups that will be given news assignments to research, produce and edit for broadcast. Training will include the basics of putting a television news story together from conception to actual production. videography and editing with Final Cut Pro. There is no textbook, but a reading packet. Each student will need an external hard drive for use with Final Cut.

397E Environmental Journalism: The Globe and the Connecticut River Valley (Perkins)

Climate change, air and water pollution, the end of fossil fuels, population growth, and sprawling development: we hear about these environmental issues all the time, but do we understand them? Do we as citizens understand how the U.S. contributes to global problems? Do journalists explain the bigger picture– and sharpen local policy choices?

This course relates global and national issues to environmental challenges in the Connecticut River Valley, and draws upon and strengthens a variety of reporting skills: interviewing, statistical analysis, feature writing, multimedia, and shoe-leather reporting. We start by surveying the big issues--and how they are covered in the media. Next, we interview and profile scientists at UMASS doing important research in environment-related areas. Finally, we examine specific problems in the Valley, including state parks, "smart growth," farming, historic preservation, forest management, and recycling. Along the way, we make field trips and read examples of excellent eco-journalism. Our final project will be a multimedia package of print stories, interactive graphics, and audio-slideshows. A lot of the time we will be in the field– so get your boots on!

397EJ Entrepreneurial Journalism (Roche)

Today’s journalism student will most likely spend spend at least part of his or her career not as an employee, but as an entrepreneur or independent freelancer. This course will examine the Gig Economy, how it works for people with journalism skills, and how to find and create opportunities. Students develop new skills they’ll need to succeed in their fields of interest. These might include:  idea strategizing and development, marketing and audience development through social media, time and business management. Students will learn about how they can transfer their journalistic skills, and nuts and bolts like how to find clients, what to charge for your work, and how to manage your small business as a writer. Two major projects will include a case study of an independent, profit-making journalistic websites, and the development of a site of their own, from concept to business plan. Several other shorter projects will also be required. Attendance in the classroom is required.

397G Multimedia Reporting (Fox)

Almost all journalism job descriptions these days require some level of multimedia experience. In this class students will continue to develop their online writing skills through blogging while learning how to create packages and tell stories with audio and video. This class will focus on ways to merge the traditional methods of storytelling and present them on the web. Students will learn what makes for good web presentations and will be introduced to tools to help them with editing photos, video and audio. Students will enhance their understanding of what makes a good web link and a good web headline. We’ll also discuss the business and ethical implications of publishing online.

397L Documentary Tradition in Literature & Film (Blais)

The thesis of this class is that in recent years documentary film has come into its own as an art form and as an expression of social consciousness, not unlike the rise of the New Journalism in the late sixties and early seventies. The reason why is a matter for conjecture: is it a failure on the part of filmmakers, or precisely the opposite? Does it take even greater imagination to process the world around us because reality has outstripped fantasy as a source of the outlandish? If this class has one central theme, it is the question of what it means to be a journalist in today’s world, in print or on film. Books and films vary from semester to semester. A recent course required the following readings paired with thought-provoking DVD’s, such as The War Room, Fog of War, Capote, Crazy Sexy Cancer, and The Education of Shelby Knox. The Selling of the President by Joe McGinniss; Miami and the Siege of Chicago by Norman Mailer; The Woman in the Washington Zoo by Marjorie Williams;  American Requiem: God, My Father and the War that Came Between Us by James Carroll; In Cold Blood  by Truman Capote.

397R Business of Media (Berman)

This course will provide a detailed examination of the current state of the radio broadcast industry and how students can best prepare themselves for entry level employment and/or internship opportunities. Emphasis will be given to understanding the internal operating structure and business model of commercial radio stations with an eye towards matching individual student interests with identified career opportunities in the radio broadcast industry. There will be guest speakers throughout the semester.

397TG Investigative Journalism and the Web (Fox)

In this class, students will be introduced to basic investigative techniques. Students will learn first-hand how to scan police records, court records, land records and such. We will study some of the great investigative stories of our time and the techniques reporters  used during their investigations. This will be a hands-on class where students will learn the basics of computer-assisted reporting, database reporting and mapping the results of your investigations. This will be a project-oriented class with students in the class reporting and investigating a topic for the majority of the semester. 

425 The Politics of Sport (McBride)

This course will examine how the politics of gender, sexual identity and race are played out in the arena of sports. Through readings, writing, documentary viewing an discussion, students will explore the ways in which sports either constructs or breaks down barriers among individuals and groups and how journalism is involved in the process.

435 Web Design for Journalists (McDermott)

Not long ago a journalist could get by with little more than a notebook, a pen, and his or her wits. Today, working in the media demands that students know an assortment of web design and web building skills. Students will learn basic web design, HTML and CSS skills, and by the end of the semester they will be able to build a basic website, including how to incorporate JavaScript plugins. The course will also cover online ethics, mobile strategy, search engine optimization, and the role of social media in successfully publishing journalism work online. Prerequisite: Journalism 301, Introduction to Multimedia Reporting, Journalism 397G, Multimedia Reporting, or consent of the instructor.

445 Journalism and Law (List)

Students will become familiar with legal concepts underlying freedom of the press: censorship, obscenity, libel, privacy, free press/fair trial, contempt, access and other legal problems affecting the mass media. The case study approach generally is used, but emphasis is on the principles and philosophy underlying various aspects of communication law as these affect the daily work of journalists.

460 Journalism Ethics (List, McBride, Sibii)

This course will develop an understanding of the ethical questions raised by media coverage in a democratic society at a time of focus on profit over news values and on entertainment over substance.  Issues discussed will include: accuracy and fairness, diversity, conflicts of interest, privacy, deception, relationships with sources and photojournalism. We will also learn to identify news values--or lack of them--both as professionals and as consumers. Junior and senior Journalism majors only.

491A Writing about Performing Arts in a Digital Age (Perkins)

If you think the performing arts are as exciting as a hurricane or an election—if you like to meet artists and find out how they prepare and what makes them tick—if you care about the future of orchestras, theater and dance companies, clubs, and performing arts series--if you enjoy comedy clubs, improv, street theater and jazz--and if you are interested in how digital technology is changing how the performing arts are made and marketed in the age of YouTube and Itunes—then this course is for you. We will learn to write the basic story formats used in performing arts coverage: previews,  reviews, profiles, features/trend stories. Those who are interested will use basic multimedia skills to create a podcast or audio-slideshow--to preview an opening, profile an artist, or capture the preparation a new production. (Note: In this course, performing arts does not include film.) By the way, learning how to cover drama will also help you cover a presidential election or a hurricane.

491C Writing About Popular Culture (Whitehead)

This is a writing course. It consists chiefly of weekly individual conferences with the teacher. The topics for the writing assignments are chosen by the individual students themselves, and can be drawn from the popular culture.

491CJ Community Journalism II (McBride)

The Community Journalism Project is an intermediate reporting class that sends students into ghettoes, barrios, and poor white and working class communities of Western Massachusetts. Journalists have become increasingly out of touch with the majority of the population. The working class, the poor, the minority often are overlooked by the mainstream media. This course will put you into the homeless shelters, food pantries, health clinics, community centers, public schools, and low wage job sites in hope of finding solutions and answers from the real experts. Intensive field work, substantial newswriting, and devotion to reading comprise the calculus of this course.

492M Magazine Writing (Roche, Allen, Blais)

This class will help you learn what makes magazine journalism different from newspaper journalism. Unlike newspaper writing, magazines often demand that a journalist bring both authority and a point of view to the work. We workshop each student's paper, so each student is expected to think as an editor as well as a writer. There is substantial reading required from magazine anthologies, plus your fellow students' work. We will learn how to do the type of research necessary to produce a magazine article, and work hard to improve writing and analytical skills. Three major assignments.

493H Literary Journalism in the 20th Century (Sims)

Our goal in this honors seminar will be to study innovations and practices in journalistic narrative and literature between the late 1800s and today. We will read landmark works of literary journalism, some fiction, and several scholarly articles about particular authors and books. In the first weeks of the course, we will discuss the nature of contemporary literary journalism, its origins in the intellectual culture of our time, and how it fits with traditional forms of reporting. Additional time will be spent on the intersection of journalism and literature and on critical standards for understanding and judging the production of literary journalism. Our study will take into account the historical and cultural forces at play when a work was created.

494 Media, Technology & Culture (Sibii)

This course satisfies the new Integrative Experience requirement. This course aims to provide students with a framework for critically examining the intersections between media messages, the digital revolution and the wider sociocultural environment. That journalism has been profoundly impacted by the development of Web 2.0 applications is nowadays axiomatic. However, the precise ways in which such "new media" phenomena as Facebook & Twitter, the personal blog and the smart phone have transformed news gathering, packaging and dissemination still need to be researched and understood. Students will reflect critically on the manner in which their communication creates and, in turn, is determined by, the social and cultural world(s) in which they live. Investigating their meaning-making processes in this way should translate into an increased awareness of the causes and consequences of their storytelling choices. The course readings will deal with such issues as identity formation, social and cultural diversity, linguistic and technological determinism, ritual, perception and subjectivity, and cultural competency.

494VI Advanced Video Journalism (McDermott)

Advanced Video Journalism is designed to refine and improve video storytelling and production skills for journalists who want to share their work online. Class work will include a various news video assignments. The class will cover advanced editing techniques, scriptwriting, storyboarding, and incorporating still photography and graphics into video. Students will watch, discuss, and write about news video and news documentary online. This class fulfills the IE requirement. Prerequisite: Multimedia Journalism, 397B, Advanced Photojouralism, 497AP, or consent of the instructor.

497AP Advanced Photojournalism (McDermott)

Students in this class will spend the semester photographing documentary projects, with a focus on improving visual storytelling, learning advanced strobe and Photoshop techniques, and augmenting their photos with multimedia elements including video and audio. In the process students will study outlets that publish or exhibit photojournalism and pitch their stories accordingly. We will study the documentary work of noted contemporary and historic photographers, and consider the medium’s social and economic future. Students must own or have access to a digital camera with manual functions. Pre-requisite: Journalism 397P, Introduction to Photojournalism, or the consent of the instructor.

497H Gender, Journalism and Cultural Context

Women typically fill two-thirds of the slots in university journalism programs, but men hold more than two-thirds of the jobs in most newsrooms, editorial positions, and professorships. Fewer than 25 percent of news stories have women as their subjects, yet in advertising more than half of the images are of women in sexually provocative poses. What does this tell us about gender, journalism, the media, and cultural context? In Gender, Journalism, and Cultural Context we will examine how cultural constructions of gender shape media, film, advertising, and news production and consumption in the United States. We will trace historical developments and explore how emerging technologies, as well as online social networking are providing access to platforms that previously excluded women. Students will participate in collaborative projects, give a multimedia presentation, and develop a semester-long media portfolio.   

497B Diaries, Memoirs & Journals (Blais)

The four-credit class will read from a variety of memoirs and subsequently write a personal history that combines rigorous emotional honesty with high literary standards. Readings may include the works of Mary McCarthy, Tobias and Geoffrey Wolff, Russell Baker, George Orwell, John Wideman, Mary Karr, Vladimir Nabokov, Harry Crewes, Reeve Morrow Lindbergh, Mary Gordon, David Eggers, Ernest Hemingway, Alice Sebold, Wendy Mnookin and others. (Fulfills advanced writing requirement.)

497G Journalism Launchpad (Roche)

One credit, five week seminar. Juniors and seniors face lots of decisions as they start to plan for life beyond UMass. In this course, we’ll look at some of those issues, focusing on the decision-making process, and career exploration and development. We’ll explore the career possibilities for journalism majors, and through exercises and readings, students will develop a career plan and build a resume and online portfolio that highlights their strengths and interests. We’ll also look at some areas like budgeting and interviewing and negotiating skills. 

497M The Art of the Profile (Blais)

Using writers such as Joseph Mitchell, Lillian Ross, Susan Sheehan,
Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe, John Hersey, Susan Orlean, Joan Didion, and others as models, students will study what goes into successful profile writing for major literary magazines and other journalism outlets. After combining the various readings with a series of short writing exercises, they will embark on their own projects, selecting people outside their normal orbit who will challenge students to think creatively about how to capture these subjects in the round. The class will stress interviewing techniques, verbal finesse, possible publishing venues, and the necessity for fact-checking and complete accuracy while also honoring excellence in writing. Honors component. Juniors and Seniors only.

497P The Politician and the Journalist (Neal)

The relationships among reporters, publishers, and politicians, and how each uses the media. Using historical biographies and other texts, the class will examine past strategies by politicians and media figures. Topics include campaign strategies, Washington politics, day-to-day effectiveness in office, making arguments through the media, and how those not elected use the media. Taught by Congressman Richard Neal of the Second District, Massachusetts, the class offers an opportunity for students to hear how elected officials work with the press. Visiting reporters and editors will add to the seminar discussions.

497R Special Topic—Covering Race (McBride)

Racial issues continue to dominate our psychic and social reality. They generate more fear and fireworks than any other topic in life. By taking a hard look at history, Covering Race will endeavor to reveal the complexity, nuance, and ugliness which is the legacy of racism, colonialism, and slavery. That history serves as a foundation for understanding ourselves and for a journalistic prose that both elevates discourse and enlightens readers. This course requires substantial readings and writings.

497TG Investigative Journalism and the Web II (Fox)

In this class, students will be introduced to basic investigative techniques. Students will learn first-hand how to scan police records, court records, land records and such. We will study some of the great investigative stories of our time and the techniques reporters used during their investigations. This will be a hands-on class where students will learn the basics of computer-assisted reporting, database reporting and mapping the results of your investigations. This will be a project-oriented class with students in the class reporting and investigating a topic for the majority of the semester.

Journalism Department
108 Bartlett Hall
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003

Phone: 413.545.1376