Course Descriptions

Registration for the Fall 2018 semester is open. Please remember to double check course offerings on SPIRE.

191 Journalism Success: Thriving as a Major (Roche, Fox, Tuttle, Kyle, Carey)

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. Open to first-year Journalism students, as well as SBS Exploratory Track students. Transfer students or newly declared Journalism majors above sophomore level may request an override from the department.

201 Introduction to Journalism (McBride, Zamith)

Introduction to Journalism is a survey class that covers the basic principles and practices of contemporary journalism. By studying fundamentals like truth telling, fact checking, the First Amendment, diversity, the watchdog role of the press and public engagement, students will explore the role of the journalist in a democratic society. Students will also assess changes in the production, distribution and consumption of journalism through new technologies. Students will examine case studies across the media, and learn how different audiences, media and perspectives affect the news. 

225 Readings in Journalism (Sibii, McBride, Blais)

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 and Barack Obama's historic Presidential 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. 

250 News Literacy (Fox, Forde)

What is fact? What is fiction? Can we even tell the difference anymore? Today's 24-hour news environment is saturated with a wide array of sources ranging from real-time citizen journalism reports, government propaganda and corporate spin to real-time blogging, photos and videos from around the world, as well as reports from the mainstream media.

In this class, students will become more discerning consumers of news. Students will use critical-thinking skills to develop the tools needed to determine what news sources are reliable in the digital world. Through readings, class discussion and written assignments, students will deconstruct stories, breaking down broadcast, print, web, and social media stories to determine those that are well-sourced and can be considered real news. Students will also discuss concepts such as objectivity, opinion, bias and fairness and how all contribute to the mix of news reports in today's digital landscape.

300 Newswriting and Reporting (Sibii, Foudy, Forcier, Pasha)

This course covers the basic requirements of newswriting and reporting, including interviewing, covering news events, and more. This class will include in-class and outside reporting assignments and fulfills Junior Year Writing requirement.

301 Introduction to Multimedia Reporting (Roche, Fox)

Students build on the skills learned in Journalism 300, while gaining the technical skills to tell stories in online platforms, using digital images and audio podcasts. Students learn how to find and work with online sources and produce online news packages in areas like the environment, the economy, education and other topics.

310 International Journalism (Pasha)

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

320 History of American Journalism (List, Forde)

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. 

330 Literary Journalism (Forde)

Literary journalism has been called by many other names: narrative journalism, literary nonfiction, literary reportage, creative nonfiction, and the New Journalism.  Exactly what literary journalism is has been a matter of debate, and while we will discuss the particulars of this debate throughout the course, for now, we need a working definition. Mark Kramer, former director of Harvard’s Nieman Program on Narrative Journalism, has defined narrative or literary journalism as the use of “storytelling techniques to convey news.” To put it somewhat differently, it is the use of the classic tools of fiction writers—character, plot, conflict, theme—to tell factual, nonfiction stories of the present moment. While literary journalism has recently become popular across a range of expressive genres—newspapers, magazines, books, radio, the web—it has a rich history, flourishing at particular moments in the history of the American press and the broader print culture. In this course, we will explore this history and ask critical questions about the epistemology, narrative and reportorial conventions, and ethical standards of journalism. We will read some prominent works of literary journalism and analyze their potential meanings and craft. We will write critically about the works we read. And finally, we will try writing our own works of literary journalism.

332 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.

335 Principles of Public Relations (Donohue)

This course addresses the principles and practices of public relations and strategic communication in the public, private, for-profit and no-profit arenas. Course includes lectures, readings, multimedia viewings and student-engaged, collaborative and classroom and online learning methods.

339 Video Content Creation (Kyle)

This 4-credit hour video content creation class is an introduction to visual storytelling, writing, videography and editing. These skills are crucial in any television newsroom/sports department or for producing professional quality videos for the web, advertising or advocacy. You’ll have the opportunity to create videos that will help build your portfolio for whatever your journalistic goals might be. You’ll learn to shoot professional quality video, how to write for broadcast, and how to edit with professional software.

345 Media Criticism (Braun)

American journalism is going through what might be the greatest upheaval in its history. This course examines the causes of this upheaval -- technological, economic, cultural, ideological -- and their current and prospective impact. It also looks at some efforts to set standards for the performance of journalists.

383 Entrepreneurial Journalism (Roche)

Today’s journalism student will most likely 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. 

390S Short-Form Documentary (Kyle)

This class is where documentary filmmaking and traditional journalism meet. People often look at news for the headlines and see little bits of the news. Here we give them more depth, alternate perspectives, ask deeper questions and look to the future with long form storytelling. David Wilson, a co-founder of the True/False Film Festival calls this a "new era of journalism" and says, "We are getting away from the 'voice of God' narration. Primary sources still rule, but viewers also want stories to help triangulate a topic." The challenge of modern day videos is to tell enrapturing stories in a short period of time. Today, the most successful online videos are no more than 5 minutes. This course will teach you how to produce short, sharp, strong micro-documentaries.

391J Food Writing (Connare)

This course approaches food writing from a news reporting perspective. The Pioneer Valley is home to a network of food producers, from farmers and cheesemakers to brewers and beekeepers. Students will travel into the field to meet people who make and grow what we eat, conducting interviews and collecting information to synthesize into multimedia stories for publication around themes such as health, history, travel, ecology, animal welfare, social change, nutrition and home cooking. Students will experience the full spectrum of food writing--blogs, magazine articles, personal essays, reviews, recipe-centered pieces, social and cultural commentary--and create stories in a variety of these forms. 

391SB Sports Talk LIVE (Kyle)

This 3-credit performance class is aimed at preparing sports journalists for broadcast. Students will cover sports stories over the weekend, then perform game previews, postgame wrap-ups, halftime reporting, reporter debriefs, on-set analysis based on their reporting. These assignments will be compiled into the Amherst Wire Weekly Sports Wrap-up shows that will be recorded in the broadcast studio. Students will take turns anchoring the show and doing their reporting on camera. 

Students who can shoot and edit video can turn in video stories for extra credit. But this is not required. By the end of the semester, a productive student will have enough on-air material to put together a performance reel.

392P Writing for Public Relations (Donohue)

Public relations writing requires a narrative arc and good storytelling in which essential information gets delivered, along with a feeling of positive connection to an organization.  Students in this course will learn how to translate an institutional mission statement in to various narratives.  They will learn how to gather information in a a complex environment, and how to evaluate that information according to constituency needs.  Writing projects will be required, ranging from basic press releases and news briefs to interviews, speeches, profiles, a roundtable report, a position paper, first-person essays, and possibly a full-length magazine feature story.  Course materials will include examples of excellent magazine writing, and books and articles on effective public relations programs.

393N Radio Reporting and Podcasting (Leland)

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.

394C Community Journalism Project (McBride)

The Community Journalism Project is an intermediate reporting class 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.

395M The African American Freedom Struggle and the Mass Media (Forde)

Our subject in this history course is the black freedom struggle across the 19th and 20th centuries, and we will study it through the lens of communications and media. Why? Communications and media play a critical role in political and social change. They help to create community, shape public opinion, expand and constrict public memory, and inform current political discourse. The narratives that survive from our past shape our perception of who we are and how our world works. But there are also narratives that get shoved aside and ignored. One goal of this course is to revive some of those discarded stories and present a broader, deeper, and more complicated view of African American history. Additionally, we will consider the way African American history has been retold and re-imagined over time by political actors and other who were eager to make use of it in our nation's political discourse. We will pay special attention to the freedom struggle's rich history in Massachusetts.

397DJ Data-driven Storytelling (Zamith)

How can journalists use data to find stories? How can they tell stories through data? This hands-on course provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to begin gathering, analyzing and visualizing interactive, data-driven stories. Students will work in small groups to tackle questions pertaining to ethical data sourcing, data analysis and making data meaningful for the public. They will also produce their own exciting and thought-provoking digital news stories. Prior experience with advanced statistics, web design or computer programming is neither assumed nor necessary, and course content will adapt to students' collective skills. However, a willingness to experiment, learn new technologies and embrace iteration in a cooperative environment is a must.

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.

410 Social Justice Journalism I (Sibii)

This is an explanatory journalism class with an emphasis on the intractable structural issues confronting contemporary American society. Each iteration of the course will focus on one such issue (e.g., immigration, mass incarceration, gender inequality, racism in higher education), and will seek to work in collaboration with at least one NGO and one media institution. Students will report and produce a variety of journalistic stories pertaining to the chosen issue. They will also read and discuss professional and scholarly literature on subjects related to social justice/advocacy journalism (such as the question of journalistic objectivity, framing, media effects & agenda setting).

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.

428 Sports in Film, Journalism and Literature (Blais)

The subject of sport has long been the source of inspiration for journalists, novelists and filmmakers. In this class, students will explore some of the most brilliant examples of sport narrative in words and images as they pertain to various pursuits, including a range of endeavors which might include running, baseball, soccer, rugby, basketball, climbing, boxing and football among others. We will meet on THREE select Fridays TBA as a group to watch longer feature films. Accommodations will be made for individual students in the event of unavoidable time conflicts. 

433 Photojournalism (McDermott)

This course will cover the theory and practice of photojournalism and documentary photography. Students will photograph a diverse range of community events, including news, sports, portrait and photo essay assignments. They will also learn about the history, philosophy, ethics, aesthetics and contemporary multimedia practice of photojournalism.

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, 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. Satisfies the Integrative Experience requirement for BA-Journ majors.

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)

This four-credit writing course introduces students to the different forms of magazine writing, including short features and essays, longer-form pieces, first-person narratives, profiles and human-interest feature stories. Students will generate story ideas, develop research strategies, cultivate sources, research markets, and submit queries for publication in print and online formats. Students will read and discuss articles from a range of popular, literary, and trade magazines, and, in a community of peer writers, they will write, review and revise several works of their own.

494MI Media, Technology & Culture (Braun)

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 (e.g., their use of language, imagery and technology) 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. Satisfies the Integrative Experience requirement for BA-Journ majors.

495BP Broadcast Performance (Kyle)

This class is designed to help you understand the principles of broadcast presentation, including procedures and methods to use the voice, face and body as tools for communicating. There will be an emphasis on performing journalism on television, radio and online media. Through in-class exercises, drills and homework assignments, students will develop and practice skills for narration and on camera news delivery, including field reporting and in-studio anchoring. Upon completion of this class, students should be comfortable performing on-mic and on-camera. They'll understand how a broadcast studio operates, and they'll be well practiced in recording reports as well as doing live broadcasts.

495N Broadcast News Reporting 2 (Kyle)

The goal of this class is to take students beyond the simple mechanics of broadcast storytelling and into the area of craftsmanship and prepare them for the myriad of situations and stories a general assignment reporter will face on a daily basis. Students will become accomplished in all areas of newsroom work and will learn to produce quality broadcast journalism on deadline.

497B Diaries, Memoirs & Journals (Blais)

The class covers a variety of memoirs; students will 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.

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 Longform Narrative (Blais)

In this class, students are given a thorough grounding in the art of nonfiction narrative by using both classic and contemporary exemplars as templates. In addition, each student produces a major longform piece that upholds the hallmarks of the genre which include excellent prose, imaginative and far-reaching reporting, and an immersive approach to the subject matter. Every effort will be made to pair student work with a worthy publication. Honors component. Juniors and Seniors only.

497N Columns, Essays and Reviews (Blais)

In this class we will study exemplary practitioners of each of these forms of nonfiction prose, with an emphasis on how these models will inform our own practice. By the end of the semester you should have written two columns, one regular newspaper length and one Modern Love piece, two reviews, and a reported essay of a generous length.  We will work as a group to generate story ideas in each category.

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 Massachusetts, the class offers an opportunity for students to hear how elected officials work with the press.