2020 - Spring

The Beat: Reporting Downtown (Print/Online track)

Course Number: JOUR-UA 201, section 4

Day & Time: Wed | 11:00 AM – 2:40 PM

Location: 20 Cooper Square, room 657

Instructor: Frank Flaherty

Downtown, the most fabled and colorful slice of New York, flows south from 14th Street, attracting tourists to the High Line, Wall Streeters to the financial district, and hipsters to the Lower East Side. It’s where the mayor sits, where the Staten Island Ferry docks, where the courts are centered and where much of the city’s cultural, fashion, political, legal and artistic news unfurls.

In this course, students will fan out and investigate this rich beat, connecting with Downtown’s varied cast of newsmakers and colorful characters. We will study the craft of writing and appraise other journalists’ work, but the heart of the class will be to hatch timely news and feature story ideas, and to learn how to report them out: Where to find solid sources, how to conduct fruitful interviews and how to ferret out elusive facts. Reporting is the raw material from which we make all our stories — we can’t have a story without it.

A few weeks into the class, students will select a beat; maybe a “subject matter” beat, like tourists and the tourist trade, or maybe a geographic neighborhood beat, like the Lower East Side. You will have three beat stories of 700-900 words and a final project of 1,200 words. There may be a couple of shorter pieces, too. Because collaboration is a hallmark of and a major value in journalism, we will help each other out by analyzing people’s story ideas, offering tips on how to report those ideas, reading each other’s drafts and providing constructive criticism. Most of all, we will try to make Downtown New York our own. It’s a rich place to learn to be a reporter.

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.