Course Number: JOUR-UA 204, section 003
Day & Time: Thursday 12:30pm-4:10pm
Location: 20 Cooper Square, room 653
Instructor: Mary W. Quigley
People are endlessly curious about the lives of others. It fascinates us to pull back the curtain and see how our fellow travelers – from plain folk to celebrities – live, love, work and play. That’s why the profile remains one of the most popular and enduring forms of journalism. And it’s one of the most multifaceted, too, coming in all shapes and sizes: short Q & A, 500-word feature, long form magazine article, radio piece, multimedia slide-show, full-length book and documentary film.
This course will explore the profile in its varied incarnations through a range of assignments. To help focus both research and developing story ideas, students will be required to propose a subject-area as their beat and the basis for all assignments; perhaps your double major, or an area of interest in sports, lifestyle, music, politics, food, fashion, science, and so on.
One of the course’s guiding principles will be, as Malcolm Gladwell noted, that a profile is “not so much about the individual as about the world that he or she inhabits, the ‘subculture.’” So we will explore not only the individuals but the places, communities and cultural milieus they inhabit, which will allow for deeper learning and more sophisticated narrative-writing techniques.
A major aspect of the class will be practicing and perfecting, the art of the interview in all its forms, from the formal, sit-down variety, to the Skype or Google Plus chat, phone, write-around, vox-pop, etc.
Students will keep blogs on their beats and pitch their work, with the goal of getting published.