An interdepartmental program in Journalism

Last updated: September 10, 2014 at 3:14 p.m.

Objectives

The Journalism Program examines the purpose and influence of the news media on American—and more broadly speaking, global—society. The program offers students a unique liberal arts approach to the study of journalism, emphasizing the importance of media literacy in modern, democratic societies and challenging students to consider the historical contexts in which our contemporary understandings of the news media’s responsibilities and obligations evolved. A diverse group of scholars and journalism professionals teaches students about the vital role that credible, reliable, and substantive journalism plays in democratic societies. These faculty also help students acquire the traditional and digital research, writing and production skills that are necessary for the accomplished practice of journalism.

In class and in professional environments, students wrestle with the practical and pedagogical challenges of communicating the causes and consequences of issues and events to diverse audiences in print, broadcast, and internet-based formats. The larger, liberal-arts curriculum in which the Journalism Program exists provides students with an opportunity to explore the political, economic, social, religious, and historical roots of the news stories they consume and – in so doing – prepares them to dissect news events as they are happening and repackage them in ways that are useful, meaningful, and accessible to media audiences.

The program is part of the university's larger effort to train students to be critical thinkers and forceful writers. In the core courses and electives, students study the history and organization of media institutions; examine the ethical responsibilities of media practitioners; analyze the relationships among the media and other American social, political, and corporate institutions; and learn the reporting, writing, and editing skills needed by the print and broadcast media.

Although some of our graduates advance directly to graduate programs in journalism and communications, and others take jobs in media venues including public relations and advertising, many go on to other vocational areas where the skills and learning affected by the program are found to be highly valuable, such as law and education.

Learning Goals

Knowledge:
Students completing the minor in Journalism will be able to

  • explain the vital role that free, active, and critical news media outlets play in sustaining democracies
  • interrogate the leaders and issues that affect the communities to which they belong
  • recognize the variety of communities to which they belong
  • identify the economic, cultural, and political factors that influence the creation and dissemination of news, both positively and negatively
  • articulate the challenges and opportunities presented to the journalism industry by the internet (and realize that new technologies have always presented journalists with challenges and opportunities)
  • understand the strengths and limitations of the print, broadcast, and internet media platforms

Skills:
Students completing the Journalism minor will, ideally, be able to

  • recognize and formulate sharp, concise, and attention-grabbing lead sentences
  • articulate the “news value” of a story in a single, concise paragraph
  • critically analyze the news value of the stories they consume
  • formulate meaningful and accessible angles on events and on-going issues and pitch those angles to potential editors
  • identify relevant interview subjects and conduct concise, directed, and fruitful interviews
  • recognize quotes and sound-bites that advance and substantiate a story angle and incorporate those quotes and sound-bites seamlessly into the body of a story
  • adjust their writing styles to meet the needs of daily and long-form journalism, particularly with regard to the differences between news and feature stories
  • internalize the Code of Ethics that has been formulated by the Society of Professional Journalists and recognize violations of that code when they occur

Social Justice Statement: We certainly believe that anyone graduating from Brandeis University’s Journalism Program has the potential to identify, explore, challenge, and explain issues with the same clarity and insight that characterize the dossiers of award-winning journalists. Our goal for the program, however, goes beyond just creating journalists. We seek to create a cadre of news producers and consumers who will demand that journalists fulfill their obligations to society – and insist that society provide journalists the tools and the freedom they need to meet those obligations. Journalists are obliged to be disinterested but engaged public witnesses who focus light on the hidden and forgotten corners of society and engender a sense of community ownership among the citizens who make up their audiences. In doing this, they are obliged to avoid hyperbole, speculation, and gossip. We hope that some of our graduates will become journalists who meet these obligations. We hope that all of our graduates will become citizens who work to ensure that these obligations are met – and are able to be met – by journalists.

After Brandeis: Roughly half of the students minoring in Journalism choose either to pursue careers in the field immediately after graduation, or else to attend graduate school at places like Columbia, Syracuse, and Northwestern, where they pursue Master’s degrees in Journalism or journalism-related subjects. The remaining Journalism minors tend to pursue careers in Education, Law, Public Relations, and Advertising – fields where professionals are expected to dissect and understand complicated arguments, make clear and concise written and oral statements about those arguments, and take complex ideas or issues and package them in ways that make them accessible and interesting to broad, mainstream audiences.

How to Become a Minor

This minor is open to all Brandeis undergraduates, subject to limitations on appropriate class size. Students who complete the requirements of the program receive journalism certificates and notations on their transcripts.

Committee

Maura Farrelly, Director
(American Studies)

Jacob Cohen (on leave fall 2014)
(American Studies)

Thomas Doherty
(American Studies)

Mari Fitzduff
(Coexistence and Conflict)

Ben Gomes-Casseres
(Economics)

Tim Hickey
(Computer Science)

Janet McIntosh (on leave fall 2014)
(Anthropology)

Eileen McNamara
(Journalism)

Laura Miller
(Sociology)

Stephen Whitfield
(American Studies)

Requirements for the Minor

Students are expected to complete a minimum of six courses from the following options:

A. Core courses: Students must take two core courses, one from a "History/Culture" area, which consists of either JOUR 120a or AMST 137b; and one from a "Writing" area, which consists of either JOUR 15a or JOUR 138b.

B. Ethics: All students are required to take JOUR 110b.

C. Internship/thesis: Students have three options for satisfying this requirement:

1. JOUR 89a, which must be taken in conjunction with a preapproved internship (with prior approval, students may complete the internship in the summer prior to taking JOUR 89a in the fall).

2. JOUR 98a or b, in which students complete a semester-long independent study with a faculty member of the journalism program and are graded on a single independently researched writing project.

3. The completion of an honors thesis, in which students write a thesis in their major that is on a topic related to the media (a faculty member of the journalism program must serve as an outside reader and pre-approve the topic for credit in the minor).

D. Electives: Students must take two electives from the electives course list below. Each elective must be from a different department.

E. No grade below a C- will be given credit toward the minor.

F. No course taken pass/fail may count toward the minor requirements.

Courses of Instruction

(1-99) Primarily for Undergraduate Students

JOUR 15a Writing for Broadcast and the Internet
[ ss wi ]
A hands-on workshop designed to teach basic broadcast news-writing skills, as well as techniques for gathering, producing, and delivering radio and television news. Stresses the importance of accuracy. Issues of objectivity, point of view, and freedom of the press are discussed. Writing assignments will be written on deadline. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Lemberg

JOUR 45a Sports Writing
[ ss wi ]
Applies skills in research, interviewing, and direct observation to write game stories, features, and opinion pieces about sports. Students learn to also see and write about sports in the broader context of business, political and social issues. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. May

JOUR 89a Contemporary Media: Internship and Analysis
Prerequisite: JOUR 15a or 138b.
Brings together students who are independently engaged in various media internships and provides an opportunity for them to exchange their experiences with other students and to discuss and analyze related readings. Students who choose to satisfy the journalism minor's internship option must take this course. Usually offered every year.
Staff

JOUR 92b Contemporary Media Internship
Prerequisite: JOUR 15a or 138b. Enrollment by Program Director permission only.
A directed reading designed for students who are unable to complete JOUR 89a in the fall. Permission must be obtained from the program director a full semester in advance. Usually offered every year.
Staff

JOUR 98a Independent Study
Usually offered every year.
Staff

JOUR 98b Independent Study
Usually offered every year.
Staff

(100-199) For Both Undergraduate and Graduate Students

JOUR 104a Political Packaging in America
[ ss ]
Examines the history of political marketing, image making in presidential campaigns, the relationship between news and ads, and the growth of public-policy advertising by special-interest groups to influence legislation. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. McNamara

JOUR 107b Media and Public Policy
[ ss wi ]
Examines the intersection of the media and politics, the ways in which each influences the other, and the consequences of that intersection for a democracy. Through analytic texts, handouts, and contemporaneous newspaper and magazine articles, explores the relationship between policy decisions and public discourse. Usually offered every year.
Ms. McNamara

JOUR 109b Digital and Multimedia Journalism
[ ss wi ]
The fast-changing landscape of new information technologies, from the Internet to wireless networking, is redefining the nature and practice of journalism today. This course explores the political, sociological, legal, and ethical issues raised by these new media technologies. The Internet, in particular, is a double-edged sword: It poses both a real threat and opportunity to newspapers and television news, and to the concept of the media's watchdog role in a democracy. It also provides journalists with powerful new tools for news gathering, but often at the expense of individual privacy rights. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Bass

JOUR 110b Ethics in Journalism
[ ss wi ]
Should reporters ever misrepresent themselves? Are there pictures that newspapers should not publish? Is it ever acceptable to break the law in pursuit of a story? Examines the media's ethics during an age dominated by scandal and sensationalism. May be combined with an experiential learning practicum (EL 94a). Usually offered every year.
Ms. McNamara

JOUR 112b Literary Journalism: The Art of Feature Writing
[ ss wi ]
Introduces students to signal works of literary journalism. Helps develop the students' own voices by honing and improving students' own work and by critiquing the work of professionals and colleagues. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. May

JOUR 114b Arts Journalism
[ ss wi ]
Introduces students to cultural reporting, profiling, and criticism. Students read and discuss the work of notable past and present practitioners with the aim of enhancing their skills as both consumers and producers of arts journalism. Usually offered every second year.
Staff

JOUR 120a The Culture of Journalism
[ ss ]
Examines the social, cultural, political, and economic influences on the practice and profession of journalism. Provides the background and concepts for a critical analysis of the American press. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Farrelly

JOUR 130b Science and Journalism in Society
[ ss wi ]
Scientific progress has brought extraordinary medical advances and serious environmental crises. Good medical and science journalism has never been more important in understanding our world and how to fix it. This course is an introduction to the skills needed to cover medical and science news. It focuses on how to report and write daily news stories and longer features. It also explores the ethical, social, and political issues raised by the press coverage of science and medicine. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Weintraub

JOUR 138b The Contemporary World in Print
[ ss wi ]
Introduces students to the practice of news reporting for print media and links theory and history to the working craft of journalism. Trains students in the fundamentals of news gathering and writing, providing an opportunity to practice those skills in conditions simulating a newsroom. A concern for ethics, balance, and accuracy is stressed in all assignments. Usually offered every year.
Ms. McNamara

JOUR 145a Opinion Writing
[ ss wi ]
An exploration of opinion wiring in all of its journalistic forms. In a era of unverified assertion, examines the need for well researched commentary to illuminate public policy. Students will experiment with "voice" and "tone" and learn to write with humor and or outrage.
Ms. McNamara

Journalism Core Courses

AMST 137b Journalism in Twentieth-Century America
[ ss ]
Examines what journalists have done, how their enterprise has in fact conformed with their ideals, and what some of the consequences have been for the republic historically. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Whitfield

JOUR 15a Writing for Broadcast and the Internet
[ ss wi ]
A hands-on workshop designed to teach basic broadcast news-writing skills, as well as techniques for gathering, producing, and delivering radio and television news. Stresses the importance of accuracy. Issues of objectivity, point of view, and freedom of the press are discussed. Writing assignments will be written on deadline. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Lemberg

JOUR 120a The Culture of Journalism
[ ss ]
Examines the social, cultural, political, and economic influences on the practice and profession of journalism. Provides the background and concepts for a critical analysis of the American press. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Farrelly

JOUR 138b The Contemporary World in Print
[ ss wi ]
Introduces students to the practice of news reporting for print media and links theory and history to the working craft of journalism. Trains students in the fundamentals of news gathering and writing, providing an opportunity to practice those skills in conditions simulating a newsroom. A concern for ethics, balance, and accuracy is stressed in all assignments. Usually offered every year.
Ms. McNamara

Journalism Ethics Course

JOUR 110b Ethics in Journalism
[ ss wi ]
Should reporters ever misrepresent themselves? Are there pictures that newspapers should not publish? Is it ever acceptable to break the law in pursuit of a story? Examines the media's ethics during an age dominated by scandal and sensationalism. May be combined with an experiential learning practicum (EL 94a). Usually offered every year.
Ms. McNamara

Journalism Internship Courses

JOUR 89a Contemporary Media: Internship and Analysis
Prerequisite: JOUR 15a or 138b.
Brings together students who are independently engaged in various media internships and provides an opportunity for them to exchange their experiences with other students and to discuss and analyze related readings. Students who choose to satisfy the journalism minor's internship option must take this course. Usually offered every year.
Staff

JOUR 98a Independent Study
Usually offered every year.
Staff

JOUR 98b Independent Study
Usually offered every year.
Staff

Elective Courses

The following courses are approved for the program. Not all are given in any one year. Please consult the Schedule of Classes each semester.

AAAS 117a Communications and Social Change in Developing Nations
[ ss ]
Examines the role of communications and information systems within and between developed and underdeveloped nations. Addresses the larger perspective of global communications. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. Nyangoni

AMST 103b Advertising and the Media
[ ss ]
Combines a historical and contemporary analysis of advertising's role in developing and sustaining consumer culture in America with a practical analysis of the relationship between advertising and the news media in the United States. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Farrelly

AMST 130b Television and American Culture
[ ss ]
An interdisciplinary course with three main lines of discussion and investigation: an aesthetic inquiry into the meaning of television style and genre; a historical consideration of the medium and its role in American life; and a technological study of televisual communication. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Doherty

AMST 131b News on Screen
[ ss ]
An interdisciplinary course exploring how journalistic practice is mediated by moving image--cinematic, televisual, and digital. The historical survey will span material from the late-nineteenth-century "actualities" of Thomas Edison and the Lumiere Brothers to the viral environment of the World Wide Web, a rich tradition that includes newsreels, expeditionary films, screen magazines, combat reports, government information films, news broadcasts, live telecasts, television documentaries, amateur video, and the myriad blogs, vlogs, and webcasts of the digital age. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Doherty

AMST 132b International Affairs and the American Media
[ ss ]
Examines and assesses American media coverage of major international events and perspectives, with special emphasis on the Middle East. In addition to analyzing the political, economic, cultural, and tactical factors that influence coverage, students will be challenged to consider the extent to which the American media have influenced their own understanding of the crisis in the Middle East and the relationship the United States has with that part of the world. Students will engage in online chats with students in the Middle East, and they will write and edit their own television news pieces about developments in the region. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Farrelly

AMST 133a The History of Media in America
[ ss ]
An introductory survey that considers the development and influence of the mass media in America from the colonial period to the present. The goal is to bring the skills of historical analysis to the study of mass media, so that students will come to know the fluid and constructed nature of the media environment that shapes their understanding of the contemporary world. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Farrelly

AMST 134b Digital Media and American Culture
[ ss ]
Analyzes how the Internet, the Blogosphere, Facebook, Twitterdom, iPhones and iPads (all in all the entire array of constantly expanding techniques for instant (and incessant) information transmission and reception) have affected American Culture--thought, expressive styles, politics, liberties, prose, education, journalism, social and personal relations, values, identities, senses of self, nation, and the globe. In brief: what has been replaced, and with what, and is all this for better or worse? Usually offered every year.
Mr. Cohen

AMST 139b Race and Gender in the News
[ ss ]
Examines the ways in which news coverage of women and minorities has both shaped our understanding of gender and race in the United States and influenced the tone and content of public discourse on such policy matters as gay marriage, pay equity, and racial profiling. We will consider the implications of the historical under-representation of women and minorities in the nation's newsrooms for efforts to combat cultural stereotyping of blacks, women, ethnic minorities and the GLBT community. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. McNamara

AMST 191b Greening the Ivory Tower: Improving Environmental Sustainability of Brandeis and Community
[ oc ss ]
Yields six semester-hour credits towards rate of work and graduation.
Get active, involved, and out of the classroom with this class! In this hands-on, field-based course we focus on the human impact on the world's natural resources, and explore strategies for creating healthy, resilient , environmentally sustainable communities in the face of increasingly daunting environmental challenges. Students also create projects that can change the face of Brandeis and the local community. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Goldin

ANTH 26a Communication and Media
[ ss ]
An exploration of human communication and mass media from a cross-cultural perspective. Examines communication codes based on language and visual signs. The global impact of revolutions in media technology, including theories of cultural imperialism and indigenous uses of media is discussed. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. McIntosh

ENG 17a Alternative and Underground Journalism
[ hum ]
A critical history of twentieth-century American journalism. Topics include the nature of journalistic objectivity, the style of underground and alternative periodicals, and the impact of new technologies on independent media. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Irr

JOUR 45a Sports Writing
[ ss wi ]
Applies skills in research, interviewing, and direct observation to write game stories, features, and opinion pieces about sports. Students learn to also see and write about sports in the broader context of business, political and social issues. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. May

JOUR 104a Political Packaging in America
[ ss ]
Examines the history of political marketing, image making in presidential campaigns, the relationship between news and ads, and the growth of public-policy advertising by special-interest groups to influence legislation. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. McNamara

JOUR 107b Media and Public Policy
[ ss wi ]
Examines the intersection of the media and politics, the ways in which each influences the other, and the consequences of that intersection for a democracy. Through analytic texts, handouts, and contemporaneous newspaper and magazine articles, explores the relationship between policy decisions and public discourse. Usually offered every year.
Ms. McNamara

JOUR 109b Digital and Multimedia Journalism
[ ss wi ]
The fast-changing landscape of new information technologies, from the Internet to wireless networking, is redefining the nature and practice of journalism today. This course explores the political, sociological, legal, and ethical issues raised by these new media technologies. The Internet, in particular, is a double-edged sword: It poses both a real threat and opportunity to newspapers and television news, and to the concept of the media's watchdog role in a democracy. It also provides journalists with powerful new tools for news gathering, but often at the expense of individual privacy rights. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Bass

JOUR 112b Literary Journalism: The Art of Feature Writing
[ ss wi ]
Introduces students to signal works of literary journalism. Helps develop the students' own voices by honing and improving students' own work and by critiquing the work of professionals and colleagues. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. May

JOUR 114b Arts Journalism
[ ss wi ]
Introduces students to cultural reporting, profiling, and criticism. Students read and discuss the work of notable past and present practitioners with the aim of enhancing their skills as both consumers and producers of arts journalism. Usually offered every second year.
Staff

JOUR 130b Science and Journalism in Society
[ ss wi ]
Scientific progress has brought extraordinary medical advances and serious environmental crises. Good medical and science journalism has never been more important in understanding our world and how to fix it. This course is an introduction to the skills needed to cover medical and science news. It focuses on how to report and write daily news stories and longer features. It also explores the ethical, social, and political issues raised by the press coverage of science and medicine. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Weintraub

JOUR 145a Opinion Writing
[ ss wi ]
An exploration of opinion wiring in all of its journalistic forms. In a era of unverified assertion, examines the need for well researched commentary to illuminate public policy. Students will experiment with "voice" and "tone" and learn to write with humor and or outrage.
Ms. McNamara

LGLS 116b Civil Liberties: Constitutional Debates
[ ss ]
Formerly offered as LGLS/POL 116b.
The history and politics of civil liberties and civil rights in the United States, with emphasis on the period from World War I to the present. Emphasis on freedom of speech, religion, abortion, privacy, racial discrimination, and affirmative action. Readings from Supreme Court cases and influential works by historians and political philosophers. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Breen

LGLS 140b Investigating Justice
[ ss ]
Examines methods used by journalists and other investigators in addressing injustices within criminal and civil legal systems. Problems include wrongful convictions, civil rights, privacy protection, and ethical conflicts. Research methods and reporting techniques enhance skills in interviewing, writing, and oral presentation. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Kabrhel

POL 115a Constitutional Law
[ ss ]
Analysis of core principles of constitutional law as formulated by the Supreme Court. Primary focus on the First Amendment, the equal protection and due process clauses, federalism, the commerce clause, and the separation of powers. Emphasis also on the moral values and political theories that form our constitutional system. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Woll

POL 116b Civil Liberties in America
[ ss ]
The history and politics of civil liberties and civil rights in the United States, with emphasis on the period from World War I to the present. Emphasis on freedom of speech, religion, abortion, privacy, racial discrimination, and affirmative action. Readings from Supreme Court cases and influential works by historians and political philosophers. Usually offered every year.
Staff

SOC 120b Globalization and the Media
[ ss ]
Investigates the phenomenon of globalization as it relates to mass media. Topics addressed include the growth of transnational media organizations, the creation of audiences that transcend territorial groupings, the hybridization of cultural styles, and the consequences for local identities. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Miller

SOC 146a Mass Communication Theory
[ ss ]
An examination of key theories in mass communication, including mass culture, hegemony, the production of culture, and public sphere. Themes discussed include the nature of media effects, the role of the audience, and the extent of diversity in the mass media. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Miller

SOC 181a Methods of Social Inquiry
[ ss ]
Prerequisite: SOC 1a or SOC 3b. Registration priority given to juniors and seniors.
Introduces students to qualitative and quantitative approaches to social research. Throughout the course emphasis is on conceptual understanding, with hands-on applications and exercises. No statistical or mathematical background is necessary. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Cadge or Mr. Cunningham