Syllabus

 

Important people pay generously to subscribe to newsletters with insider information unavailable in the public domain. This means newsletter writers must be especially good reporters. Newsletters sometimes have some of the best investigative journalism around. Newsletter reporters must write clearly and get to the point quickly. They avoid the colorful prose of magazine writing. They must have a keen awareness of their audience so they donít waste time with long explanations. They typically have closer relations with their sources than most fly-by-night journalists popping into a certain geographic area and a better understanding of the material than typical journalists who teach themselves complex subjects on the fly and learn to fake it for a general audience. They write for specific, well-informed goal-oriented audiencesósay, European investors considering countries to place their capitalórather than casual readers.

 

The purpose of this intensive course is help the employees of Atieh Bahar develop their writing, reporting and story-spotting abilities to improve the quality of the firmís newsletters. The course can serve as an introductory journalism course as well as a newsletter-writing course. I have found that might my workshop approach to teaching works much more effectively if students do their assignments and bring them to class. There will hopefully be plenty of time for giving students individual attention. And you will find that my remarks on your written assignments can be quite valuable. The course will also be flexible; since I donít know the specific needs and skill levels of students, I will attempt to adjust the class accordingly.

 

 

About the instructor

 

Borzou Daragahi, a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New School University, has worked as an editor and writer for daily and weekly newspapers, monthly magazines and an Internet site. He has taught journalism at Purchase College and the Pratt Institute. He is currently a contributor to Money magazine and U.S. News & World Report as well as a correspondent for English-language radio.

 

 

Class I, Saturday, April 27, 2002, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

       Introductions: What is journalism? What do journalists do? Journalism is a way of seeing the world.

       Defining the terms: lead (lede), nut paragraph, kicker, quote, color, attribution, source, pitch, beat.

       Defining the goals: to inform, to provoke/inspire, to entertain.

       The tools: interviews (experts, customers, victims, politicians), documentary research (primary documents, secondary sources), the Internet (the joys and perils of the web).

       Complement and supplement: the role of newsletters.

       Different newsletter tools: infographics (use and overuse), nuggets, pull quotes, factoids.

Home†††††††††† Read the newsletters handed out in class. Write 500 words comparing them to each other, focusing especially on their writing and organizational style and target audience. Email the completed assignments to bdaragahi@yahoo.com.

 

 

Class II

       Writing and organizing: Common writing mistakes. Going over your first assignment.

How do you put together a well-wrought piece?

†††††††††††††††††††† * Reading a few examples of good articles.

Home†††††††††† * Watch a television show and write a review or summary of the show, being careful to back up your conclusions with quotes.

†††††††††††††††††††† * Try to think up a real story for the final project.

 

Class III†††††† * The Interview: The basic building block of journalism.

* Guest speaker: ?????, development issues in Afghanistan

* Brief discussion of final projects.

Home†††††††††† * Interview someone and write a profile of him or her.

†††††††††††††††††††† * Write a 150 to 300-word ďpitchĒ or query letter proposing your final piece.

 

Class IV†††††† * Developing your news instinct: Whatís news? Whatís the story?

* A walk through some newspapers.

* Read aloud story queries

Home†††††††††† Rewrite the television review

 

Class V††††††† * Crossing the tís and dotting the iís: Getting the details perfect

†††††††††††††††††††† * Guest Speaker?: TBA

Home†††††††††† * Rewrite the profile.

†††††††††††††††††††† * Begin working on your final pieces.

 

Class VI†††††† * Writing workshop.

†††††††††††††††††††† * Bring the draft of your final project into class.

Home†††††††††† Finish your final project and either email or get it to me.

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