2021 – Spring

Advanced Reporting: Food Writing (Print/Online track)

Course Number: JOUR-UA 301, section 3

Day & Time: Wed | 12:00 PM – 3:40 PM

Location: 20 Cooper Square, room 653

Instructor: Mayukh Sen

Prerequisites: The Beat JOUR-UA 201 (Print/Online sections)

“Food writing is stepping out. It’s about time. For far too long it’s been the timid little sister of the writing world, afraid to raise its voice.”
— Ruth Reichl, The Best American Food Writing 2018

It’s certainly a challenging time to be a food journalist. Food journalism, like many coverage areas, has shifted dramatically since the outbreak of COVID-19: The pandemic has decimated restaurants and exposed the precarious nature of labor in so many food businesses. This current scenario, however, has also served as a reminder that food journalism isn’t just a fluffy diversion. There’s always been more to the discipline than recipes and restaurant reviews.

The above quote from Ruth Reichl captures the ethos of this course: Food deserves to be taken seriously as a topic of narrative inquiry. Food can serve as a springboard to tell broader stories about politics, labor, and culture.

Over the course of this semester, you’ll immerse yourself in food journalism’s many forms. You’ll read noteworthy examples of reported essays, restaurant coverage, and profiles of figures who’ve influenced the way consumers cook and eat today. Then, you’ll tackle these forms yourself: Assignments will include articles, Q&As, and as told to stories in the 750- to 1,000-word range. Some of the most vital voices working in food journalism will visit the class as guest speakers, while we’ll also devote time to generative writing and reporting exercises during our sessions.

Throughout the semester, you’ll be working towards a 3,000-word profile of someone who works in any part of the food industry—a grocery store worker, a delivery driver, a farmer, a restaurant line cook—whose livelihood has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll explore ways to write longform profiles that make food central to the narrative. You’ll walk away from this class with a firm understanding that reporting on food, when done right, can touch on matters that go far beyond the plate.

Notes: Required for students pursuing the print/online track in the journalism major. Counts as an elective for both journalism minors.