English 467b is a seminar that examines the practices, methods, ethical dilemmas, and impact of journalism. The main attention will be on in depth reporting and writing: How others have done it, what works, and what doesn’t. Students will be exposed to best practices in journalism as revealed in newspaper and magazine articles and books.
The course is designed not just for those considering journalism or writing as a career but for anyone hoping to enter a profession in which conveying information is central. That may be almost everyone. Think of the seminar as a class to improve your methods for obtaining, skeptically evaluating and assessing information, and then writing it up for others to read.
Students will read specific articles and books that will be discussed in class and analyzed in occasional short papers.
I will meet or speak by phone with students individually during the term in order to provide evaluations, assistance on reporting, writing or the final project, and, if sought, career guidance. Since this is only my fifth year teaching a formal course, it will continue to be a learning experience for me and I hope to get strong feedback from the students as the course proceeds on what is valuable to them—the readings, writing assignments, and class discussion. Some assignments may change based on student reactions and feedback.
Fulfills the core seminar requirement for Yale Journalism Scholars. No prerequisites.
Also PLSC 253.
Spring application due by noon on December 5.
Special application instructions: The seminar is open to all sophomores, juniors and seniors, and graduate students (with department approval). The application will consist of two parts. The first should be a personal statement explaining your interest in the course, your Yale class year, any previous writing courses, your main extra-curricular activities, and any journalism or work experience. The second part should be a writing sample–an article that has been published anywhere or a paper you have submitted for a class. The application form, which is available on the English department website, should be submitted by noon on December 5. I encourage people who are writers or editors of campus publications to apply, but I also want students who have little or no experience with campus publications to apply as well.
Woodward graduated from Yale in 1965 and is currently an associate editor of The Washington Post where he has worked since 1971. He has shared in two Pulitzer Prizes, first for the Post’s coverage of the Watergate scandal with Carl Bernstein and second as the lead reporter for the Post’s coverage of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He has authored or coauthored 18 books, all of which have been national non-fiction bestsellers. Twelve of those have been #1 national bestsellers, ranging from All the President’s Men (1974) to Obama’s Wars (2010). Fear: Trump in the White House is his 19th book an was published in September 2018.
In 2014, Robert Gates, former director of the CIA and Secretary of Defense, said that he wished he’d recruited Woodward into the CIA, saying of Woodward, “He has an extraordinary ability to get otherwise responsible adults to spill [their] guts to him…his ability to get people to talk about stuff they shouldn’t be talking about is just extraordinary and may be unique.” Gates is, of course, representing the government’s position about people telling the truth and talking about what he thinks they shouldn’t address. The class is going to be very much directed at this idea of finding out what the government and others don’t want reporters or the public to know.
(See www.bobwoodward.com under “Full Biography” for more details and background.)