English CAJR. Investigations: Journalism and The 2022 Elections

Instructor: Jill Abramson
Tuesday, 9:00-11:45am | Location: TBA
Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

Taught by veteran political journalist Jill Abramson, the former Executive Editor of The New York Times, this advanced seminar focuses on political journalism and closely examines coverage of the 2022 elections for Governor, U.S. Senate and the U.S. House as these races unfold this fall.  We will try to answer the question of whether political journalism does its job of delivering voters the quality information they need to select their leaders. On a weekly basis, we will read and study the political coverage of major news organizations, from print (including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic and The New Yorker, among others), broadcast (PBS Frontline and The NewsHour) podcasts, newsletters, blogs and other outlets chosen by students.

Choosing from a list of closely contested races, each student will closely follow news coverage of a statewide or local race. Readings will include in-depth candidate profiles, analytic articles about electoral dynamics, and investigations into subjects such as the role of money in politics. Through close reading, we will examine the rules of quality journalism and see if they apply to political coverage and explore concepts such as objectivity and bias, which are in flux. We will delve into the rise of partisan and ideological journalism and read examples of this type of political writing. Students will examine the role of social media platforms in their electoral races. Writing assignments will include candidate profiles reported by students, editorials (opinion pieces) and an investigative article about assaults on democracy.

The emphasis of the course is on narrative and investigative writing techniques (ie. not horse-race coverage), the development of story ideas, refinement of voice and narrative framing. Students will learn how to outline, draft and revise their articles, and will master the fundamentals of the editing process in journalism.

Guest speakers will include many of the political journalists whose articles are included on the syllabus. No prior journalism experience required.