VIEWS: 3 PAGES: 10 POSTED ON: 9/17/2012
JOUR-GA 1231.003 The Pop Culture Beat Wednesdays, 6:30pm-9:30pm Room 653 Instructor: Jeff Giles (firstname.lastname@example.org) In this course, you’ll develop your voice and your reportorial skills, enhance your understanding of the way magazines and websites operate, and prepare for a career in an industry that has changed even since I began writing this paragraph. TEXTS YOU WILL NEED: “The New New Journalism,” by Robert Boynton “The New York Times Reader: Arts & Culture,” edited by Don McCleese CLASS STRUCTURE: About half of the classes will include guest speakers, who will talk both about their careers and whatever topic we’re covering that week. Guest segments will never last more than an hour. Every class will include a 20-minute or brainstorm about recent entertainment news, which will be led by a different student each week. Students should keep on top of what’s happening and be ready to talk about stories they’d follow up (and how) if they were on staff somewhere. Some sites I’d suggest are: Deadline.com, ew.com, thehollywoodreporter.com, vulture.com, mtv.com, thedailyswarm.com, and gawker.com. You may use others as well/instead. Most classes will also include a discussion of the readings and a workshop. Class participation is essential. I know students will have different levels of comfort with that, so I’ll take that into account but I’ve seen how much active participation in a meeting or brainstorming session can help a career so I will encourage you all to speak up. GRADING: Grades will be based on the quality of the work, class participation and meeting deadlines. You will fail this course immediately if you are caught plagiarizing, inventing sources, or doctoring quotes. In keeping with the Journalism Institute policy, assignments will be graded as follows: A: Outstanding work, publishable as is. B: Good work, in need of minor revision. C: Needs significant revision. D: Major problems with facts, reporting and writing. F: Issues with plagiarism, libel. Please bring copies of the reading to class, since we will be going over the stories line-by-line. Please arrive on time. If you need to miss a class, email me in advance. If you miss two classes, your final grade will be lowered. (If the circumstances are extenuating such as a major illness with a doctor’s note, we can discuss a make-up assignment.) If you miss three classes, you fail automatically. ASSSIGNMENTS: Stories are due by 5pm on Mondays, unless otherwise specified. Stories should be emailed to email@example.com with the subject line NYU. Write a headline for your piece, put your name on the top of the first page, and number every page. Deadlines matter. If stories are late or the copy has errors, your grades will suffer. You will be graded for research, reporting and writing, as well as spelling and grammar. Fact-checking: On the last page of every assignment, list the names and phone or email contact information for your sources and cite the articles or books quoted (date published, writer, headline.) Avoid citing Wikipedia. Word lengths for stories are minimums; an extra 200 words on the longer pieces, say, is okay but do not go longer. Interviews should be conducted in person or by phone. Email interviews are a last resort. Do not write about friends or family members, to avoid conflicts. DUE DATES: Wednesday, Sept. 5: For first class, bring in a piece of entertainment writing you love. Read the Susan Orlean, Gore Vidal, and Calvin Trillin q/a’s in “The New New Journalism” Monday, Sept. 10: 300-word review of an entertainment website. Monday, September 17: First draft of a 750-word q/a with someone in the arts world talking about a timely topic. Monday, Sept. 24: Q/A’s revisions: new drafts of the same piece at 400 words and 200 words. Start an entertainment blog, and begin posting at least once a week. Monday, Oct. 1: A 400-word trend piece. Please do a minimum of 3 interviews. Plus, three pitches for a 1,000-word profile. Monday, Oct. 8: Begin reporting for your profile. Please do your central interview plus a minimum of 2 secondary interviews. Monday, Oct. 15: First draft of profile. Monday, Oct. 22: Final draft of profile. Monday, Oct. 29: 200-word review of something you actively hate, in which you nonetheless explain what might account for its appeal to others. 200-word review of something you actively love. Monday, November 5: Two pitches for your final project, a 3,000- word reported feature. Plan to do a minimum of 6 interviews. Monday, November 12: 250-word progress report on final project. Monday, Nov. 26: Continued work on final feature. Monday, Dec. 3: First draft of final feature. Plus, a list of a half dozen publications or sites you’d like to pitch—and what sorts of things you’d like to write for them. Monday, Dec. 10: Cover letter to prospective employers. Completed blog. CLASS SCHEDULE: Week 1: September 5. Introduction ASSIGNMENT FOR FIRST CLASS: Please bring in some bit of arts writing or blogging that speaks to you. It can be old or new. It can be long or it can be as short as a single paragraph. Also, please read the Susan Orlean, Gay Talese and Calvin Trillin q/a’s in “The New New Journalism” We’ll introduce ourselves, and talk about what kind of arts & entertainment writing inspires by reading the fragments you’ve brought and discussing them. Next we’ll do an entertainment news brainstorm. Then I’ll give you a questionnaire so I can get a sense of who you are, what kind of movies, music, TV, books, and media you like, and how you’d describe your personal goals for the course. In preparation for the following class, we’ll also talk briefly about the rapport between interviewers and their subjects—which is never more crucial than during a Q/A. What kind of people make for great Q/A subjects, and what kind make for nightmares? Reading for the following class: TBA by Dave Karger Madonna in Elle Brad Pitt in Entertainment Weekly Assignment due Monday, Sept. 10: 300-word review of an entertainment website. What’s its audience and angle? Is its design any good? How well does it fulfill its function and how does it rank against its competitors? Week 2: September 12th. How to Get to Them, How to Treat Them, How to Survive Them. Guest Hour: Amanda Lundberg and Dave Karger Amanda is a partner at one of the most powerful publicity firms in movies, 42 West. She currently represents Tom Cruise. Amanda was previously the head of publicity for Miramax, where she oversaw PR and Oscar campaigns for Steven Soderbergh, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, among others. Dave is an Entertainment Weekly senior writer, a regular fixture on TV, and one of the most respected Oscar prognosticators around. News brainstorm. Then we’ll discuss your website reviews, and spend the remainder of the class talking about how to prepare for interviews; we’ll also deconstruct the q/a’s you’ve read for class, and go over some of the rules and tricks of the trade. Reading for the following class: The Time Inc. guide to journalistic ethics. Basic web research on the falls from grace of Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair, Jonathan Lehrer and Fareed Zakaria Readings in “The New New Journalism” Chris Heath on Michelle Williams and Madonna Chuck Klosterman on Britney Spears, Val Kilmer and “Appetite for Replication” Assignment due Monday, September 17 First draft of a 750-word q/a with someone in the arts world talking about a timely topic. It should include a headline, subhead and intro text. Week 3: Sept. 19th. Ethics, Integrity and Other Endangered Species Guest Hour: Guest Hour: Chris Heath and Chuck Klosterman Chris writes for GQ. For my money, he is the best profile writer around—and he’s certainly the most opinionated about what rules govern the relationship between the writer and subject. Chris has written long memorable profiles of a hundred stars, some of whom loved the intensity of the experience and some (like Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and Madonna) definitely did not. Chuck has written about music and pop culture for numerous magazines and sites, as well has having authored several bestselling books, including Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs. He’s currently a columnist for Grantland.com. News brainstorm Discussion of readings. Q/a workshop: We’ll go over one student’s piece together, and then you’ll split into groups and discuss each other’s work. Reading for the Following Class: Dolly Parton and Rosie O’Donnell stories by Jancee Dunn Zooey Deschanel by Melissa Maertz “Celeb Death Rumors” by Jennifer Armstrong “For Teenagers, Hello Means ‘How About a Hug?’” by Sarah Kershaw “How to Write a Trend Piece” on ihatenyt.com From “The NYT Reader”: “How Inner Torment Feeds the Creative Spirit” by Samuel Freedman “Are Book Reviewers Out of Print?” by Motoko Rich “The Rap Against Rockism” by Selefa Kennah Assignment due Monday, Sept. 24: Q/A’s revisions: new drafts of the same piece at 400 words and 200 words. Start an entertainment blog, and begin posting at least once a week. Week 4: September 26. Trend pieces. Guest hour: Jancee Dunn and Melissa Maertz Jancee has written extensively about music, movies and TV for Rolling Stone, In Style, and many other magazines. She’s the author of three comic books about growing up big-haired in New Jersey, and she recently ghostwrote Cyndi Lauper’s memoir. Melissa has written and edited for Rolling Stone, New York, the Los Angeles, the New York Times, Wired and elsewhere. She’s an award-winning music journalist and currently covers both music and TV at Entertainment Weekly. News brainstorm, discussion of readings. Reading for the Following Class: David Helfgott by David Gates and Yahlin Chang Courtney Love by Lynn Hirschberg Peter Bart by Amy Wallace George Meyer by David Owen Assignment due Monday, Oct. 1 A 400-word trend piece. Three pitches for a 1,000-word profile. Week 5: Oct. 3. Profiles, Part 1: Great Subjects, Great Writing News brainstorm, discussion of readings, workshop on trend piece, discussion of profile pitches. Reading for the Following Class: “The Worst Celebrity Profile Ever Written” by Ron Rosenbaum Jon Hamm by Tom Chiarella Angelina Jolie by Tom Junod Chris Evans by Edith Zimmerman George Clooney by Joel Stein Assignment due Monday, Oct. 8. Begin reporting and interviewing for your profile. Week 6: Oct. 10. Profiles, Part 2: Desperation Guest Hour: Devin Gordon Devin is a senior editor at GQ and a former Newsweek arts writer. He’ll talk about why interviews sometimes go terribly— and what lengths writers have gone to in an effort to publish something, anything. News brainstorm, discussion of readings, workshop. Reading for the Following Class: Sampling of Michael Slezak’s American Idol blog on TVline.com Sampling of Kristen Baldwin’s Bachelor recaps on EW.com Sampling of Jennifer Armstrong’s blogging on Sexyfeminist.com “How Not to Start Your Own Website” by Jennifer Armstrong “Piecemeal Existence” by Ben Adler Excerpts of “The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr Excerpts of “The Cult of Amateurs” by Andrew Keen Assignment due Monday, Oct. 15. First draft of profile. Week 7: Oct. 17. How Websites Work Guest Hour: Michael Slezak, Jennifer Armstrong and Kristen Baldwin Mike’s a funny, shrewd, beloved American Idol blogger at TVLine. He’s built a devoted following over the years with video segments as well as blogs. Jennifer is a freelance writer, the founder of sexyfeminist.com, and the author of two books about TV. Kristen is an executive editor at Entertainment Weekly and EW.com, as well as a popular reality-show recap-er. News brainstorm, discussion of readings, workshop. Reading for the Following Class: Nora Ephron on the set of “Catch-22” David Foster Wallace on the set of “Dark Highway” Julie Salamon on the set of “Bonfire of the Vanities” John Jeremiah Sullivan at the Christian rock festival Reporting Guide by Jeff Gordinier Assignment due Monday, Oct. 22 Final draft of 1,000 word profile. Week 8: Oct. 24. Reporting News brainstorm, discussion of readings and workshop. Reading for the Following Class: “What’s Wrong with Movies” by Mark Harris Excerpt from “Pictures at a Revolution” by Mark Harris Jonathan Franzen cover of Time TBA by Radhika Jones Assignments due Monday, Oct. 29 200-word review of something you actively hate, in which you nonetheless explain what might account for its appeal to others. 200-word review of something you actively love. Week 9: Oct. 31. The Editor, The Writer: The Love, The Hate Guest Hour: Radhika Jones and Mark Harris Radhika is Time magazine’s executive editor, and a former deputy managing editor of the Paris Review. Mark is a distinguished freelance writer (New York, Grantland.com, Time, Entertainment Weekly) and author (the bestselling movie history Pictures at a Revolution.) News brainstorm, discussion of readings, workshop. Reading for the following class: Marlon Brando by Truman Capote Warren Beatty by Bill Zehme Tangerine Dream concert review by Lester Bangs “Sex and the City 2” review by Lindy West Assignment due Monday, November 5. Two pitches for your final project, a 3,000-word reported feature. Week 11: Nov. 7. The Writer’s Voice News brainstorm, discussion of readings and pitches. Reading for Next Class: Excerpt from “Different” by Youngme Moon Assignment due Monday, November 12 250-word progress report on final project. Week 11: Nov 14. How Magazines Work Guest Hour: Patty Alvarez, Deputy Design Director, Money Magazine; Paul Moakley, Photo Editor, Time; Lou Vogel, Executive Editor, Entertainment Weekly. News brainstorm, discussion of readings and workshop. Reading for the following class: “Confessions of a Book Reviewer” bu George Orwell Ulysses review by Martin Amis Lady Gaga review by Nitsuh Abebe “Breaking Dawn” review by Manhola Dargis “The Amazing Spider-Man” review by Anthony Lane “Dances with Wolves” review by Pauline Kael “Addicted to Cute” by Jim Windolf From “NYT Reader”: “Dreamgirls” review by Frank Rich The James Frey Scandal by Mitchiko Kakutani Assignment due Monday, Nov. 27: Continued work on final feature. Nov. 21: NO CLASS Week 12: Nov. 28. Reviews and Think Pieces News brainstorm, discussion of readings, workshop. Readings for the following class: Close readings of several publications or sites you’re most interested in working for. Assignments due Monday, Dec. 3: First draft of final feature. Plus, a list of a half dozen publications or sites you’d like to pitch—and what sorts of things, generally speaking, you’d like to write for them. Week 13: Dec 5. Career Counseling Guest Hour: Tina Jordan Tina oversees the hiring of interns for Entertainment Weekly, as well as being the senior editor in charge of books coverage. News brainstorm, discussion of readings, workshop. Assignments due Monday, Dec. 11: Cover letter to prospective employers. Completed blog. Week 14: Dec. 12. Final class News brainstorm, discussion of readings, sharing of final features.
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