2020 - Spring

The Beat: Hyphenated New York (Print/Online track)

Course Number: JOUR-UA 201, section 2

Day & Time: Thu | 2:30 PM – 6:10 PM

Location: 20 Cooper Square, room 654

Instructor: Vivien Orbach-Smith

Prerequisites: Journalistic Inquiry JOUR-UA 101

Many New Yorkers live in two worlds: the cultures that spawned them, and the international city they call home. In this intensive skills course, you will zero in on a neighborhood/community in which New Yorkers determinedly straddle and embrace dual identities, bringing vibrancy and diversity to this city.

You may cover your chosen beat through a variety of lenses, such as zeroing in on individuals who have achieved success and others who struggle; profiling local institutions and businesses; examining a neighborhood’s/community’s historical and political underpinnings; or focusing on a community’s or individual’s cultural/professional contributions.

Your beat may be a community defined by its residents’ lands of origin (the Russians of Brighton Beach, Koreans of “Koreatown” [Manhattan], Albanians of Arthur Avenue [Bronx], Indians of “Curry Row” [Manhattan], Irish of Woodlawn [Queens]), or by their race, religion, ethnicity or identity (Harlem USA, Chassidic Crown Heights, Downtown LGBT). Whether your story is about a place or an individual, an organization or an event, your writing must always capture the human side of the news: the heart of feature journalism.

You will be guided in coming up with and pursuing great, fresh story ideas within your beat, in writing four graded pieces (three shorter ones and one more in-depth final), and in finding appropriate venues to pitch them (getting clips – not just grades – is one of the aims of this course.) The goal here is learning how to craft strong, captivating stories featuring memorable characters and settings — with much emphasis upon resourceful newsgathering and responsible presentation of facts and events, vivid color and detail, coherent and graceful structure, and impeccable mechanics (spelling, grammar, punctuation). A key focus of your reporting and writing will be to broaden your readers’ perspective (and your own) on the cultural/ethnic/socioeconomic milieu of your subjects.

This class will provide you with opportunities to write stories that are genuinely publishable on subjects that genuinely interest you. You will be encouraged to write creatively and gorgeously, and even to try to change the world…but your product must retain the clarity, concision and precision that were drummed into you in your basic reporting classes, stopping far short of “fan-like,” gushy prose, blinding passions, or fictional license.

Notes: Required for students pursuing the print/online track in the journalism major. Also required for the minor in print and online journalism. Counts as an elective for the minor in broadcast and multimedia journalism.