This class is by necessity a hybrid, addressing the needs, experience and abilities of journalism majors as well as non-journalism majors.
During the course we will continuously review current foreign reportage in a variety of media to see what we can glean from the best and the worst. Stimulating debates on style, ethics, and story structure are guaranteed!
- Where do reporters get their ideas?
- Basic news-writing tips and interviewing tips for international reporting
- The art of the quote
- Writing about people as symbols of countries and its issues balancing historical context with personal details
- The do’s and don’ts of Feature Writing, including word choice, clichés and setting the scene
- Writing nut graphs, ledes and ho quotes
- Analysis of COVID-19 international reporting.
The course includes 10 online classes using our specialised online learning platform. Participants are expected to attend each virtual class, offer comments and provide feedback on the work of their fellow students. The classes are hosted live and will also be recorded in case participants are unable to attend.
Course reading materials will be available online or via a PDF reader.
Participants will complete four written assignments with guidance and feedback from the instructor.
- A short news feature of 500-800 words that analyzes and follows up on a newsworthy event of interest to international readers.
- A profile or Q&A of 800-1,200 words on a Czech person or influential expatriate who represents a newsworthy trend or issue of interest to international readers.
- A feature article of 800-1200 words on a newsworthy Czech issue or trend in which you will use scenes, anecdotes, characters and narrative to illuminate international readers.
- Rewrite of feature OR profile article using additional reporting.
Participants are expected to regularly seek help with research and networking directly from the class instructor, Dinah. She will give you advice on working from home, locating quality sources, and structuring your story.
Course Schedule (10 sessions) – All will be recorded.
Tuesday, May 4
16:00-16:15 Welcome and Introductions (Jeremy Druker, Transitions)
16:15-17:30 Overview of the course: Review of topics that are frequent fodder for foreign correspondents.
Reading: “Foreign Correspondence in Flux,” The Yale Globalist, 2011; “The World in Eight Weeks,” Johns Hopkins Magazine, 2009; “Citizen journalism, Foreign correspondents, Amateur journalists create jobs for professional ones,” The Economist, 2013. Also start reading praguemonitor.com.
Thursday, May 6
16:00-17:30 Where do reporters abroad get their ideas?
Reading: “The power of leads,” “The Nut graf, part 1,” “Writing from the Top Down,” “Putting Endings First,” “Unmuddling Middles,” Poynter.org, 2014. “The Second-Day Lead and Other Variations,” Introduction to Newspaper and Online Journalism at the King’s University Colleague, Canada. “The New Global Journalism: Foreign Correspondence in Transition,” CJR, 2014.
Assignment: Let’s get out there and talk to strangers! I will assign random strangers from social media to interview.
Friday, May 7
16:00-17:30 Basic news writing tips and interviewing tips for international reporting
Reading: Basic News Writing, Ohlone College, Journalism Department; “Czechs See Peril in a Bootleg Bottle,” The New York Times, 2012; “A Good lead is everything–here’s how to write one,” NPR, 2016.
Assignment: Assignment: Practice news story, 500-800 words, due Tuesday.
Tuesday, May 11
16:00-17:30 Draft discussions – Let’s learn together how to craft a news story based on your draft!
Reading: “Simple Journalist Techniques for Effective Interviews,” Matdornetwork.com;
“How journalists can become better interviewers,” Poynter, 2013; second day news story example: “Czech Leader’s Call to ‘Liquidate Journalists’ Was a Joke, his office says,” The New York Times, 2017.
Assignment: Start researching your profile articles.
Thursday, May 13
16:30-18:00 The personality profile: What is it? We nail down your profiles!
Reading: International profiles, Part I – “First Grader. Model Student. Great-Grandfather,” The New York Times, 2004; “Shyne the Rapper Embraces Orthodox Judaism,” The New York Times, 2010; “Jiří Doležal: Still toking for change,” The Prague Post, 2007, “Sharing the Secrets of Fine Narrative Journalism,” NeimanReports.org, 2002. “What is Narrative, Anyway?” Poynter.org, 2014.
Reading: “Beyond the 5ws: What you should ask before starting a story,” NPR, 2016.
Assignment: Start writing your profile articles.
Tuesday, May 18
16:00-17:30 Writing about people as symbols of a country and its issues: balancing historical context with personal details
Reading: International profiles, Part 2: “On Web, Storeroom Crooner From Tajikistan Is a Star,” The New York Times, 2009; “With Sharp Satire, Enfant Terrible Challenges Czech Identity,” The New York Times 2009, “Berlin Mayor, Symbol of Openness, Has National Appeal,” The New York Times, 2006; Changing Face in Poland – Skinhead Puts on Skullcap,” The New York Times, 2012; “Slovakia’s first female president, Zuzana Caputova, takes office in a divided country,” The New York Times, 2019.
Assignment: Profile articles due. Start researching a feature idea.
Wednesday, May 19
16:00-17:30 We read your profiles aloud in class and “workshop them.”
Assignment: Start working on your feature stories!
Thursday, May 20
16:00-17:30 Feature writing tips: word choice and cliches, setting the scene, i.e. The Do’s and Don’ts of Feature Writing!
Reading: “How to write a profile feature article,” NYTimes Learning, 1999;
“The Secret to Writing Stronger Feature Articles,” Writer’s Digest, 2014;
The rule for descriptive writing.
Assignment: Start researching a feature idea.
Friday, May 21
16:00- 17:30 Dissecting international features from The New York Times.
Reading: “Wanted – Czech Nurses. Bonus – Free Breast Implants” (2009); “Spain Says Adiós Siesta and Hola Viagra” (2007). Assignment: Feature story due.
Monday, May 24
16:30-18:00 Class Wrap-Up and Farewell, we go over your features in class.
Note: You can rewrite any assignment and I will comment on it. I have surgery May 26 so if you do not turn it in by the morning of the 25th, you might not hear from me for about a week.