Course Descriptions

JRN 525, 530, 550, 555, 588 and 600, along with two skills classes, are required for students in the Stony Brook journalism masters program.

JRN 500 and JRN 510 are required for students who have had little training in journalism; they are given during the summer for entering students.

JRN 500 Introduction to News Media Concepts and Institutions

Students will learn how news media decisions are made about which stories to cover and how prominently to cover them; how the press weighs such values as freedom, privacy and national security; how the press attempts to deal with issues of scientific uncertainty and conflicting information. In exploring the culture and practices of American journalism, the course will focus on recent coverage of science, health and environmental developments. This course is intended for graduate students in health and science who seek a better understanding of the rapidly changing media context in which they will work, as well as for journalism master’s students.
3 credits. Spring, Summer.

JRN 510 Basic Reporting and Writing for Journalism

This course, for students without a journalism background, aims to help students master the basic elements of writing news and feature stories that are clear, accurate and fair. Students will gain practical experience through reporting on campus and community events, with frequent writing and rewriting assignments. Coverage will begin with breaking-news reports, such as coverage of speeches or crimes, and move on to news features, profiles and in-depth news stories. Students will learn the basic skills of journalism, such as developing story ideas; finding, assessing and interviewing sources; researching topics; identifying the important elements in a story; explaining information clearly, concisely, and fairly. The development of these skills will be accompanied by exploration of the role of the press in a free society.
3 credits. Summer.

JRN 515 Television Reporting and Editing

This course, for students who have no background in broadcast reporting, introduces students to the basics of reporting, writing and editing news stories for television. Students will begin learning how to develop ideas for television, to use sounds and visuals properly, to do live reporting and to do basic video editing. Both on- and off-camera skills will be emphasized. Classes will conclude each week with group critiques of student work.
3 credits. Fall, Spring.

JRN 520: Techniques for Online Multimedia

Students in this course will learn practical and conceptual skills in presenting news and feature stories online using web-based multimedia techniques. The class also will explore issues raised by the migration of news to the web, including questions of privacy and credibility, and challenges to traditional journalistic standards. Course includes weekly labs in the use of digital tools, including photography, video and information-rich graphics. This course is co-listed with JRN 320. It is intended for graduate journalism students who have little or no experience in producing online media packages. Co-listed with JRN 320.
3 credits. Fall, Spring.

JRN 525 Health, Environment, Science and Technology Reporting

The core course of the journalism master’s program, this will introduce students to the range of science, health and environmental coverage while providing intensive instruction and practice in reporting and writing in journalistic formats.  The goal is for students to learn how to think critically about scientific claims and controversies and how to write clear, accurate and vivid stories for print or online media. Students will practice such skills as developing sources, interviewing experts, finding stories, doing online research, organizing material, using statistics correctly, and presenting technical information in lay terms.  Field trips will introduce students to work being done at Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University Medical Center.  A variety of written forms will be explored including news and trend stories, explanatory or human interest features, profiles, blogging, and first-person essays. This is an intensive course that meets six hours a week and requires at least 12 hours a week of work outside class.
6 credits. Fall. Prerequisite: JRN 510 or equivalent, or permission of the instructor.

JRN 530 The Big Story: Science Issues Seminar

Students will be exposed to selected current issues in health, science, environment and technology, providing the context reporters need to provide sophisticated coverage.  The course will be built around a series of visits by scientists and medical professionals who will discuss topics in which they are expert.  Students will prepare for these encounters, question the experts, participate in the discussions, and produce journalistic reports. Topic areas will vary but may include climate change, energy research, food and drug safety, stem cell research, racial and economic health disparities, health care funding, ocean pollution, computer privacy, nanotechnology, and space exploration.
3 credits. Fall.

JRN 535: Reporting in New York City

This course, which is offered mainly in winter and summer sessions, provides students with an overview of how reporters cover the major institutions in New York City: City Hall, the United Nations, the police department, the courts, Wall Street, etc. The course offers a blend of classroom instruction, talks with officials and journalists, and hands-on reporting. On reporting days, the class will be run as a newsroom. It is offered at the university’s Manhattan extension.
3 credits. Summer, Winter.

JRN 540 Advanced Multimedia Reporting

Multimedia techniques offer new ways to make complex and technical information vivid and understandable. In this class, students who already know the basics of using and editing digital audio, video and photographs to create multimedia web presentations will further develop their skills, and use them to present and explain health, science, environmental and technological information for general audiences. Students will develop multimedia presentations of previously reported print or broadcast stories, learning how different media shape the message, as well as reporting anew for multimedia presentation.
3 credits. Prerequisite: JRN 520 or equivalent, or permission of the instructor.

JRN 550 Investigative Reporting Techniques

Students will develop skills in investigative and in-depth reporting, with a focus on how these approaches can be used to produce deeper, more illuminating coverage of science, health, the environment and technology. Use of documents, human sources and computer-assisted reporting will be included.
3 credits. Spring.

JRN 555  Ethics, Law and Journalistic Judgment

Students will explore the rights and responsibilities of the U.S. press, with a focus on issues of law, ethics and editorial judgment that that arise in science, health and environmental reporting.  Case studies will be used to illuminate ethical dilemmas, from various points of view, including that of reporters, researchers, health care professionals, subjects and patients.
3 credits. Spring.

JRN 570 Advanced Television and Video Reporting

Students who are familiar with the basic techniques of writing, shooting, interviewing and editing for broadcast, cable and online video, will refine these skills and use them to produce news stories, short features and profiles dealing with health, environment, science and technology. They will explore issues that commonly arise in broadcast reporting in this field, such as dealing with privacy concerns; eliciting accessible comments from experts; explaining technical material quickly, using on-line graphics, and presenting abstract material in a visual medium. This course will make use of the School of Journalism’s Newsroom and broadcast studio. It will include several sessions dealing with presentation skills for on-air reporters.
Co-listed with JRN 371. 3 credits. Prerequisite: JRN 515 or equivalent, or permission of the instructor.

JRN 571 Television Production

This course is designed to introduce students to planning, assembling, producing and performing the elements of a newscast. Students will be exposed to the roles of key members of a newscast team, including producers, assistant producers, reporters, writers, anchors and video photographers and editors. There will be emphasis on developing decision-making and on-air skills, as students complete mini-newscasts and segments for broadcast. Students will be expected to meet strict deadlines and manage critical air time.  Newscast segments will be showcased on JRN Web sites.
Co-listed with JRN 371. 3 credits. Fall, Spring.

JRN 587 Independent Study

This course is intended for students who want to work on a specific journalistic project under the guidance of a faculty member. In many cases, these will be students who want to pursue and more fully develop a story they tackled for an earlier class in order to better their chances of publication, to strengthen their portfolios, or simply to make their work as strong as possible. This course is particularly well suited to projects that require substantial amounts of reporting in other countries or other parts of the United States.
0-6 credits.

JRN 588 Graduate Internship

Students participate in an appropriate internship in a journalism outlet or an institution devoted to the master’s program content themes of science, health, environment and technology. The work must involve journalistic skills related to the educational goals of the program. Student interns will report regularly to a faculty member and will complete an internship project, including a portfolio of work done.
0-6 credits.

JRN 591: Journalism Workshops

This 1-credit workshop course is designed to assist students in developing skills that will be useful in various journalism courses. Topics will rotate. Anticipated topics include On-Air Presentation, Audio Journalism, Databases, FOIL and Sunshine Laws, Editing Software.
Co-listed with JRN 391.

JRN 592: Journalism Without Walls Prep (co-listed with JRN 392)

This course prepares students to take JRN 635 Journalism Without Walls, in which students report from an unfamiliar locale. In Spring, 2012, JRN 592 will focus on Chinese politics and culture in preparation for a summer reporting trip in China.
Co-listed with JRN 391. 1 credit.

JRN 600 Long-Form Reporting: Master’s Project

This course will culminate in production of a master’s project – a long-form story of professional quality, in the student’s choice of print, video or multimedia under the guidance of a faculty advisor. The work may be a magazine story, a newspaper series, a video documentary or an information-rich web presentation. Students will be expected to enter the class with ideas for their Master’s Project, which they will focus in the beginning of the semester. Students will read, watch and analyze examples of outstanding science journalism to learn techniques of narrative journalism, organization and deeper explanation. Students may arrange to be “embedded” in a lab, medical unit, health department or other relevant setting, spending substantial periods of time there, to gather material for a narrative feature.
4 credits.

JRN 635: Journalism Without Walls


In this course, given only in summer and winter sessions, students will be assigned as part of a team to travel to a location and using only mobile technology, transmit stories and video from the field. While on assignment, students will file blogs, gather multimedia and video, write and edit stories, produce a web site and establish a “mobile news-room.” One or more instructors will accompany the students. In recent years, this course has taken students to China, Russia and to the U.S. Gulf Coast. May be repeated as the topic changes. Prerequisites: Varies by session and will be announced; permission of the department. A passport may be required.
3 credits.