Teaching International Reporting Through the Internet , by Christopher Harper
FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTING
Welcome to the international beat. This semester
you will be studying and trying out the role of foreign correspondent.
In the cosmopolitan environment of New York, you will be developing
sources, interviewing experts and producing stories on international
topics. After choosing a country in which to specialize, you will be
writing on a range of diplomatic, cultural and economic issues.
class, we will follow international news developments, analyze the
coverage and study how reporters in the field and their news desks back
at home operate. For part of the class, we will use what's called the "case study"
method. A separate explanation about the method follows this syllabus.
While this course is an opportunity to focus on
international reporting as a career, it is also developing skills that
are fundamental to all areas of journalism and
International crises have dominated media coverage since
the end of the Cold War. What was a bipolar world is still undergoing a
period of transition, and coverage of international news has also
undergone profound changes. Live television coverage of international
events has become routine, forcing print media to change their ways
of staffing and analyzing the flow of world news. As new nations were
born and others collapsed into anarchy, crises arose that demanded
massive coverage, far beyond the availability of journalists who were
already on the scene or had the expertise. Reporters, producers and
editors with a general background were called in without warning or
preparation and had to deal with alien cultures and environments.
Some were sent abroad, while others handled sidebars on the crisis from
the home office. These assignments often required new sources, different
reporting techniques and changed assumptions about the nature of
This course will introduce students to the process of
reporting on governments, politics and cultures that may function quite
differently from the American norm. A different mindset is necessary. In
covering domestic news, the reporter, the protagonists, the sources and
the audience share certain cultural assumptions, a base of common
experience and a similar approach to reality. This is often not true
when it comes to news from abroad. The essence of foreign reporting is
to make understandable for readers and viewers events and perspectives
that may be beyond their experience. The difficult part is to define
events in terms that American audiences can understand without creating
distortions that stem from cultural differences.
The course will
involve three elements. First, students will gather
background information on one region or country. Second, the class will
compare and evaluate coverage of case studies in foreign reporting and
foreign affairs. Finally, there will be reporting and writing
assignments in which students learn the techniques involved.
The subject matter will depend to some degree on events. There will be crisis coverage (through classroom simulations) and a more subtle reporting of trends, before and after the moment of global spotlight.
AssignmentsThis is a reporting and writing course, and there will be writing assignments during the semester. Having chosen, in consultation with me, your country of specialty, you will be producing full-length stories with deadlines usually two weeks apart. All stories must be original in their research and each should be based on a minimum of three sources.
On the first page in the upper left-hand corner, please include the date, the story slug and your last name.
On subsequent pages in the upper left-hand corner, put the date, the slug with page number, and your last name.
Type the word "more" at the bottom of each page and "30" or "endit" at the end of the story. Written work should be triple spaced, typed on one side and free of typographical error. Use the AP style book and follow style. Use news format, with slug and page markings.
Late stories will receive an automatic "F." This is a business of deadlines!
Grades: These will be based primarily on reporting and writing performance. Rewrites, for an upgrade, can be done within one week after the return of edited copy. All assignments must be completed to pass. More than three unexcused absences will result in failure. Excused absences require advance notice and a doctor's note.
Class participation/effort 30 per cent Assignments 2-6 combined 35 per cent Final article 35 per cent
To avoid confusion, the following will be used to calculate your final grades
A = 100-95 A- = 94.9-90
B+ = 89.9-85 B = 84.9-80 B- = 79.9-75
C+ = 74.9-70 C = 69.9-65 C- = 64.9-60
F = 59.9 and below
Academic dishonesty will result in a course grade of F.
It is recommended that you record names and phone numbers of at least two other class members.
Students are required to keep themselves informed and current on international news developments. As a working reference, each student should read all the international section of each day's New York Times and bring a seven-day A section (Tuesday-Monday) file to class or Wall Street Journal (Tuesday-Monday). It is also important to bring international stories from the business sections to class. Students should also read the international English-language press and survey a range of current affairs periodicals with particular reference to their individual region of study (e.g. The Economist, the Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Affairs, Far East Economic Review, U.S.-Latin Trade). Listen regularly to National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Introduction to course. Outline of goals and expectations.
Live on the Internet
The State Department
How An Embassy Works
One-on-one class interviews for biography and "foreign topic" writing sample.
Discuss selection of each student's "adopted country" that will serve as focus for exercises in research, interviewing and reporting for duration of course.
Lecture on War by Carl von Clausewitz.
Adopted countries determined.
Story Assignment No. 1 (Due Week Three).
Week ThreeInternational Organizations
Case Study: Bosnia
Story Assignment No. 1 Due. Story No. 2 (Due Week Five)
Week FourClass convenes at United Nations HQ for accreditation and briefing.
Week FiveCase Study: Truman and the Atom Bomb
Story No. 2 Due. Story No. 3 (Due Week Seven)
Week SixCase Study: The Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis
Case Study: The Marines in Lebanon
Terrorism and Radical Islam
Story No. 3 Due. Story No. 4 (Due Week Nine)
Week EightWhat a Foreign Correspondent Does
John Hohenberg, Foreign Correspondence: The Great Reporters and Their Times, Second Edition, Syracuse University Press
Evelyn Waugh, Scoop
Week NineCase Study: Fortress Japan, the Pacific Rim and the United States
Story No. 4 Due. Story No. 5 (Due Week Eleven)
Week TenCase Study: The Fall of the Soviet Union
The 1991 Russian Coup
Ryszard Kapuscinski, Imperium, Vintage
Week ElevenCase Study: The Gulf War. Hedrick Smith: The Media and the Gulf War, John Hopkins
Story No. 5 Due. Story No. 6 (Due Week Thirteen)
Week TwelveCase Study: Somalia, Rwanda and the Future of Intervention
Week ThirteenHot Wars and Cold Spots: The Future of the World
Week FourteenHow to Get a Job as a Foreign Reporter