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Journalism in Practice

During your time at Medill, you’ll have the opportunity to learn and polish your journalism skills through a core course called Journalism in Practice.

Many sections of this sophomore-level class incorporate an international travel experience. During spring break, you and faculty travel overseas to report in a different country. Other sections offer hands-on reporting experiences in the Chicago area. Whether overseas or closer to home, you will develop your skills with faculty who are invested in opening new worlds to you.


Guna-Panamanian governmental worker and environmental activist sitting on beach and talking with students

Guna-Panamanian governmental worker and environmental activist Diwi Valiente speaks to Journalism in Practice students who traveled to Panama to report on climate change and its effects on the Guna Yala islands and the native Guna people.

Here is a Sample of Medill's Global Journalism in Practice Sections:

Pitch. Report. Write. Repeat.

Taught by Lecturer Karen Springen
With spring break travel to the United Kingdom

Arts and entertainment play an enormous role in London. This cultural capital is renowned for its theater, museums, opera, ballet, classical and rock music, festivals and architecture. Learn how to pitch, report and write print and web stories about the arts in many forms–Q&As, service, charticles, profiles, essays. The goal: a finished product that is memorable, thoroughly reported, stylishly written and worthy of publication. During this week abroad, you will immerse yourself in the culture of England and conduct interviews for stories that you will pitch and write once back on campus.

Bitter Fruit: Modern Life and Conflict in the Promised Land

Taught by Assistant Professor Caryn Ward and Adjunct Lecturer Bob Rowley
With spring break travel to Israel

Modern Israel plays an enormous role in Middle East politics and impacts millions of Americans. The struggle between Israelis and Palestinians and Israel's relations with neighboring Arab states is a staple of worldwide media coverage and one of the most challenging areas for journalists. This class explores the opposing narratives of the current conflict over the West Bank and Gaza and the entire land's extraordinary historyone that is filled with both politics and passion, dreams and dislocation. You will learn the cultural nuances that exist among Jews, Muslims and Christians and will be introduced to great archaeological finds and the role Tel Aviv’s high-tech start-ups play in fueling the "Start-Up Nation."

The Chinese Student Experience

Taught by Associate Professor Mei-Ling Hopgood
With spring break travel to China

During the 2014-2015 school year, more than 304,040 Chinese students enrolled in U.S. higher education institutions, according to the Institute of International Education. Chinese students spend almost $10 billion in tuition and other costs yearly, but they also impact their colleges and communities culturally and socially. These young people undergo dramatic personal changes during their time here, adapting to the language, culture, society and educational system. They also face racism and mental and physical challenges as they forge new identities. You will examine the history and context that propels students to leave their homes for the United States, and you will report on their experiences and what happens to them afterward. You can produce stories in English and Chinese dialects in a variety of media. You will even have the opportunity to pitch stories to the New York Times in Mandarin.

Climate Change, Cities and the Environment: What Every Journalist Needs to Know

Taught by Assistant Professor Abigail Foerstner
With spring break travel to Panama

Social justice, politics, business, health, technologyall of our reporting crosses into what’s at stake for us all as communities confront climate change, dwindling water resources, extreme weather, environmental risks and countless sustainability opportunities to meet the challenge. This class will focus on these and other issues as they impact Chicago, the U.S. and global societies. And, we will take our focus to Kalu Yala, an experimental eco-city, farm and research institute in Panama. Here, we will document a start-from-scratch sustainable city in the making. Multimedia reporting and visualization tools will enable you to share critical issues and solid science with general audiences.

Millennials at the Crossroads of the Middle East

(Instructor to be announced)
With spring break travel to Qatar

In this cross-platform reporting course, you will develop multimedia journalism skills. You will explore issues important and relevant to young people both in the United States and those living, studying and working in the country of Qatar. In preparation for spring break travel, you will study and research issues relevant to both young people in the U.S. and in the region of the Persian Gulf, such as Middle East politics; U.S. foreign policy; environmental concerns; and thoughts about the future for millennials in the U.S. as well as Qatar and its neighboring countries. You will receive further instruction in the craft and tools for producing media-rich news presentations.

Here is a sample of Chicago-based Journalism in Practice sections:

Environmental Reporting in a High Stakes Climate

Taught by Assistant Professor Abigail Foerstner

Learn to tell compelling stories about climate change, toxic wastes, lead in water and health risks in our food. Environmental regulations and funding are under attack; environmental reporting is critical to ensure people the knowledge and power to meet threats that could impact their health and families. We will report from the living laboratory of the Chicago area on increasingly severe weather, polluted rivers, toxic wastes in neighborhoods and threats to the Great Lakes. We will report on the actions of policy-makers on both sides, of advocacy group on both sides and of initiatives by communities, schools and innovators. Learn the strategies to be watchdog reporters now when the stakes are so high. Many of our stories are published with the Planet Forward environmental website based in Washington, D.C.

Hunger in Cook County

Taught by Assistant Professor Larry Stuelpnagel

Hundreds of thousands of Cook County residents face hunger every day. According to the Chicago Food Depository, 812,000 men, women and children use its services every year. Why is this happening?  What impact does it have on the people affected? What is being done and can be done to improve the lives of the people impacted?  That will be your assignment in this class. The course will include field trips and interviews with the people affected by and fighting this problem.

Media Innovation and Chicago’s Startup Culture

Taught by Professor Owen Youngman

Since the first days of the internet, Chicago has been home to fascinating startup businesses at the intersection of media and technology. In this course, students will study the pros and cons of locating an innovative new business in the Chicago area; examine products and services that are being built and tested here today; analyze the choices that are being made by media companies, tech entrepreneurs and investors; and observe how the general public learns about these businesses. Coursework includes readings, lectures by faculty and guest speakers, several field trips with associated reporting and a final team project. Some course materials include: "Groupon's Biggest Deal"  by Frank Sennett; "Where Good Ideas Come From" by Steven Johnson; "The Art of the Start 2.0" by Guy Kawasaki and Lindsey Filby; and "Inside Silicon Valley: How the Deals Get Done" by Marc Phillips.

Social Change and Urban Dynamics

Taught by Lecturer Stephan Garnett

What makes Chicago different from cities like Detroit and Cleveland? Why is Chicago one of the most popular tourist destinations? What makes it attractive to young urban professionals? What is involved in transforming a community from one that is low income to high income? What are the positives and negatives of gentrification? There are other questions like these that deal with poverty, race and social discrimination, and gang violence. This course is designed to look more deeply into these questions and more by examining two Chicago neighborhoods, one north, one south, one that has undergone tremendous social and economic change in little more than a decade, and another that is just on the verge of neighborhood revitalization but isn’t there quite yet. In both teamed and individual research, this class will look at the economics, sociology and humanity of changing neighborhoods using Chicago, one of the most fascinating cities in the world, as a primary source.

Connecting with Immigrants, Refugees and Multi-ethnic Communities

Taught by Professor Jack Doppelt

Chicago is steeped in the immigrant tradition and alive right now with the energy and natural chaos of recent arrivals to the city and suburbs. The Chicago area ranks fifth among metropolitan areas. Chicago itself is more than 20 percent foreign born, home to almost 600,000 immigrants and refugees. Immigrant groups aren’t monolithic; they have both divergent and shared needs and interests. Through stories, we cross ethnic, cultural, neighborhood and generational lines to document immigrant experiences that are as varied as the people involved. Though those stories surface every day, they often go untold, unshared and unappreciated. By focusing on global immigration and refugee phenomena, with a watchful eye on national policy and political rhetoric, the course will expose you to the communities where immigrants and refugees live and work. You will produce stories that matter in partnership with ethnic media outlets and Immigrant Connect Chicago.