Reporting the world: international news in a global era
JMSC 6048 –Fall 2011
Instructor: Thomas Abraham Class Room: EH 101
Office: 115 Eliot Hall Time: 6.30-9.30 p.m.
Phone: 2219 4017
Office Hours: By Appointment
Class Dates: Sept 5, 12, 19, 26 Oct 3,10,24,31, Nov 7, 14, 21,28
About the course: We live in an interlinked, interdependent world. Events anywhere can cause ripples across the globe. It is an important function of journalism to be able to understand and report on events that are of global significance.
Traditionally international news has focused on wars, conflicts and the relations between governments. While this course will look at these issues, it will also look at some of the deeper issues that are going to shape the future of the world such as climate change, global disease challenges, the imbalance between population growth and food supplies, and the depletion of natural resources, to name a few.
The course will be a mixture of lectures that provide context to major global issues, and practical reporting for an online course website. Students will also have an opportunity to listen to talks from foreign correspondents and diplomats based in Hong Kong.
Students will learn to cultivate the qualities that that are important for reporting global events: factually accurate information, careful analysis, intelligent use of background material, a willingness to question perceived wisdom, and an understanding of the complexities and nuances that colour any issue.
Intended Learning Outcomes:
1) Understand the deeper dynamics of key global events in the news.
2) Analyze and explain to a general audience the significance of these issues using the principles of good journalism.
3) Critically examine and evaluate different sources of information and points of view on contentious issues. Find and cultivate credible sources of information on these issues.
4) Develop good international news judgment.
Course work and assessment:
We will maintain a class international news website, to which each student will contribute three short news stories (approximately one every month). This will count for 45 % of your grade.
One in- depth story of 750-1000 words on a topic of your choice. This will count for 40% of your grade. (Due December1)
Class participation and attendance: 10% of grade
Active classroom participation is essential, and learning will proceed through a process of reading, writing and discussion.
Since this is a journalism course the disciplines of the newsroom will be a guide in evaluating assignments. Late assignments will be counted as missed deadlines and penalized accordingly. Arriving late for class consistently, or missing class without valid reason will lead to lower grades.
In written assignments, errors of fact and spelling will also attract penalties.
In evaluating assignments and presentations, I will be looking for the qualities that mark good foreign reporting: factually accurate information and careful analysis.
The first requirement for an international news class is to be aware of major events around the world. Students are expected to keep abreast of major world events by following a variety of media and information sources ranging from newspapers and news magazines to alerts from think tanks, blogs and twitter feeds. Please read the International Herald Tribune and Financial Times newspapers (copies of which are available free at JMSC), and subscribe to a feed from a breaking news site, such as Reuters or the BBC. You are also to subscribe to the daily e mail newsletters from the Council on Foreign Relations.
In addition, journal articles and book chapters will be assigned for each class.
Students are expected to be able to discuss current international events, and lead discussions on the selected class readings.
Students will be required to find a variety of information sources for the subject they are following. It will be essential to find local sources for subjects. For example, those who are following the crisis in Afghanistan cannot confine their reading to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. They will have to read the English language press in the country and the regional press for an understanding of different perspectives.
The journals Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs are important sources of readings for this course.
About the instructor:
Thomas Abraham was a foreign correspondent for more than decade for one of India’s major newspapers, The Hindu. He was based in Sri Lanka where he covered a civil war, in Geneva, where he covered the United Nations as well as world trade negotiations and European events including the break up of the former Yugoslavia, and in London, where he reported on events as varied as the peace process in Northern Ireland to Princess Diana’s death.
|Sept 5||Introduction to course and aims. Discussion of student work. Introductory lecture||1) James F Hoge. Jr. “A global power shift in the making” Foreign Affairs, New York Jul/August 20042) US National Intelligence Council, “Global Trends 2025” Read Executive Summary. http://www.dni.gov/nic/NIC_2025_project.html||None|
|Sept 12||Globalization’s unreported wars.||1) Moises Naim, “The Five Wars of Globalization,” Foreign Policy January/February 2003. Other readings to be posted on class website.||Decide on topics for website and deadlines||1, 3, 4|
|Sept 19||The sources of international news: who gets to tell the story||To be posted on class website.||Web stories||1, 2, 3,4,5|
|Sept 26||China and the US- the battle for regional power.Guest Lecturer: Greg Torode
|Greg Torode’s articles in the South China Morning post on the struggle for naval supremacy in the region
|Deciding topics for in –depth report||1, 2,3,4,5|
|Oct 3||Clash of civilizations or clash of ignorance? What is the war on terror about?||1) “The Clash of Civilizations?” Samuel P Huntington, Foreign AffairsSummer 1993; 72,3 ( available electronically from the library)2) “The Clash of Ignorance” by Edward W. Said. The Nation, October 22, 2001.
3) “Is This a Clash of Civilizations”? M Shahid Alam
4) Francis Fukuyama: The West has Won (The Guardian) Oct. 11 2001. http://www.guardian.co.uk/waronterror/story/0,1361,567333,00.htm
|1, 2, 3,4,5|
|Oct 10||Global public health and security global security||To be posted on class website||1, 2, 3, 4,5|
|Oct 24||Talk by John Weaver, desk editor, AFP||1, 2, 3, 4,5|
|Oct 31||Human misery : The problem of refugeesGuest lecturer from UN agency||To be posted on class website||1, 2, 3,4,5|
|Nov 7||From the Crimea to Iraq: The journalism of war||To be posted on class website||1, 2, 3,4,5|
|Nov 14||Live reporting exercise DM Lab||Reporting exercise under deadline||1, 2, 3, 4,5|
|Nov 21||Guest lecture by diplomat in Hong Kong||To be posted on class website||1, 2, 3, 4,5|
|Nov 28||On being a foreign correspondent||To be posted on class website||1, 2, 3, 4,5|
Course Grade Descriptors:
|1. Understand the deeper dynamics of key global events in the news||Invariably goes below the surface of events and demonstrates sophisticated analysis||Regularly shows ability to go below the surface and provide insightful analysis||Occasionally shows insight and analysis.||Rarely or never shows insight, analysis;|
|2. Analyze and explain to a general audience the significance of these issues using the principles of good journalism||Always demonstrates the ability to write clearly and incisively, with carefully sourced material||Regularly demonstrates clear and incisive writing with well sourced material||Does not consistently demonstrate clear and incisive writing. Is unable to find good sources of information||Rarely or never produces clear or accurate analysis|
|3. Critically examine and evaluate sources of information and points of view on contentious issues.||Always demonstrates the ability to find and present different points of view clearly||Regularly demonstrates the ability to find and present different points of view||Occasionally demonstrates the ability to find and present different points of view||Rarely or never demonstrates the ability to find and present different points of view|
|4. Develop and demonstrated good international news judgment||Always demonstrates a clear grasp of how a good story might be presented||Regularly demonstrates a good grasp of how a good story might be presented||Occasionally demonstrates grasp of how a good story might be presented.||Rarely demonstrates news judgment.|
Grading Scale for Assignments and the Course
Each of your assignments will be graded according to the above descriptors on the following scale:
A+ = 80% B- = 60-62%
A = 75-79% C-= 50-52%
A- = 70-74% F= 49% and below