2020 – Fall: Issues and Ideas: Covering the Middle East

Course Number: JOUR-UA 505.001

Day & Time: Mon | 3:30 PM – 6:00 PM

Location: 20 Cooper Square, room 657

Instructor: Mohamad Bazzi

Prerequisite: Journalistic Inquiry: The Written Word (JOUR-UA 101)

The Middle East is in the headlines every day. But the coverage is often bewildering, focusing on the latest death toll in Iraq, a terrorist bombing, or an ongoing political crisis. There is little historical or political context in most of this coverage. 

This course will provide students with an understanding of contemporary issues in the Middle East (such as the rise of militant Islam; the roots of Sunni-Shia tension; the failure of Arab nationalism; terrorism versus national resistance; the problem of the nation-state) by reading works that combine history, political analysis, and narrative journalism. This historical and political background will help students to eventually write about the region with depth and nuance, and to evaluate the coverage that they read. In addition, we will analyze the evolution and implications of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. 

Today, the Arab world is poised for an era of political and cultural renewal. For the first time in decades, popular uprisings have toppled the region’s longest-reigning dictators, while others cling desperately to power. Amid these momentous events, scholars, journalists, and politicians are scrambling to explain how and why these revolutions ignited the region after years of political stagnation and dashed attempts at reform. 

We will also discuss the challenges of reporting from a region with competing narratives, authoritarian regimes that have little respect for a free press, and places where journalists must work under constant danger. We will have occasional guest speakers who have worked as foreign correspondents or editors managing coverage of the region, as well as diplomats who have served in Middle East postings. By the end of this course, you will hopefully be a more informed reader and analyst of events in the region. 

Notes: Counts as an elective for the journalism major and both journalism minors.