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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

Students in Arts and Entertainment Reporting in London have the opportunity to immerse themselves in England's culture, visiting the Tower of London, the National Theater, the West End and more. They also explore architecture and street art and meet with British journalists.

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

Arts and Entertainment Reporting in London

Taught by Lecturer Karen Springen
With travel during spring break to London

The arts, culture and the media play an enormous role in London, a historic city built by the Romans 2,000 years ago and renowned for its theater, museums, street art, music, festivals and architecture as well as for its tabloids and the BBC. This class explores how to pitch, report and write in these areas in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Students will learn the basics during class in Evanston and will research story ideas before traveling to Britain. During this week abroad, they will immerse themselves in the culture of England and will conduct a Q&A and possibly other interviews for stories that they will pitch and write once back on campus. 

Israel Today: Divergent Dreams in a Promised Land

Taught by Adjunct Lecturer Bob Rowley
With travel during spring break to Israel

Israel is a modern nation caught in the crosswinds of ancient history, religious strife and political turmoil—with Palestinians seeking a state of their own on shared, disputed land. Modern Israel plays an enormous role in Mideast politics and impacts millions of Americans. The struggle between Israelis and Palestinians and their relations with neighboring Arab nations are the focus of worldwide media coverage. It’s one of the most challenging areas for journalists to navigate and cover—and it has an outsized influence on the region. 

This class explores U.S. policies and the opposing narratives of the current conflict over the West Bank, Gaza and the future of Israel and Palestine themselves – and some extraordinary history, filled as it is with politics and passion, diplomacy and dislocation, holy land and unholy war. 

Israel/Palestine is a multi-cultural arena of divergent dreams and destinies. The class will examine political strife, peace efforts, archaeological finds, high-tech start-ups, Israeli settlers and Palestinian refugees, the threats on Israel’s borders, the nations that compete for influence and Mediterranean food and culture, from Jerusalem to the West Bank, Ramallah to Tel Aviv. 

The Journey of the International Student

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

One-third of international students are Chinese. In 2016-17, the number of international university students at higher education institutions in the United States approached 1.1 million, according to the Institute of International Education.  International students, who are recruited aggressively, contribute billions in tuition and other costs yearly and impact their campuses and surrounding communities. These young people undergo dramatic changes, adapting to a different language, culture, society and educational system. They struggle with racism and isolation, fall in love and start companies. Others drop out and return to their home countries. In this class, we will explore the varied stories of international students, with emphasis on the experience of Chinese student.

This class will explore issues of identity, race, culture and journalism of empathy. Students may choose to be part of a voluntary academic study of journalism, experiential learning and ideological change.  

Visual Reporting in Cuba

Taught by Assistant Professor Caryn Ward
With travel during spring break to Cuba

Just ninety miles from the U.S., Cuba has been a world away in terms of politics, economics and culture. For most Americans it’s been a mystery shrouded in Soviet-style communism and a failed attack at the Bay of Pigs. Now in post-Castro (Fidel and Raoul) Cuba the shoots of market capitalism are sprouting and Americans are once again discovering the island where Ernest Hemingway wrote some of his most famous works. Through this class and its accompanying trip, students will get an intensive look the current events of the island in context of history. 

This class will emphasize the development of reporting skills (diversity of sources, interviewing, background research and verification) and telling stories in a visual medium – either photo or video. Although the focus will be on visual reporting students will be asked to write components necessary for full reporting, such as captions, sidebar articles and/or introductions. Students will produce one major reporting project and two smaller ones by the end of the quarter. 

Students will be asked to read articles and books and watch videos and documentaries that will help them think critically about the seismic changes happening in Cuba today and the issues that raises for its people. 

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.

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