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MJ Courses & Descriptions

Featured Courses

A rich menu of mandatory and elective courses – both professional and academic – is available for you. Here are a few of the highlights. You can find a full listing in the graduate calendar.

Students doing group work

JOUR 5200 Introduction to Reporting

This is your deep plunge into covering the news. You’ll learn everything from how to find a news story, identify sources, and write a news story to how to use photography, graphics and social media to get the story out. Classes include lectures, field trips, guests from the working media and discussions of your work. And you’ll get plenty of chance to practice your new skills.

JOUR 5202 - Broadcast Journalism: Video

Journalism at its best can shake the foundations of attitudes and assumptions, policies and governments. Video journalism – the journalism of pictures and words – can do so in even more potent ways. Think images from Vietnam. The protestor and the tank in Tiananmen Square. Refugees desperately trying to reach friendly shores. This course teaches you visual literacy and the skills you need to work as a video journalist in a digital age.

Students working in a control room
Students doing a mock radio broadcast

JOUR 5202 Broadcast Journalism: Audio

Radio remains an important medium for breaking news and long-form documentaries and audio is becoming an increasingly popular format for creative and innovative storytellers. This intense six-week workshop offers solid training in the expertise students need to produce outstanding audio journalism for a variety of media platforms.

JOUR 5206 Reporting Methods

Scripted events. Secret meetings. No-interview policies. In the so-called Information Age, figuring out what’s going on can be harder than ever. You’ll learn how to obtain useful information, make sense of it, and shape it into compelling stories. You’ll get a solid grounding in freedom-of-information laws, business records, data journalism and document hunting.

Student working on a report
Students shooting some video

JOUR 5508X Professional Practices: Specialized Media - Video Documentary

How can your story reach Werner Hertzog’s definition of “the ecstatic truth”? It depends on your approach to the business, history, and fundamentals of documentary filmmaking. Be prepared to debate ethical issues and deconstruct audio-visual storytelling techniques before presenting your own story ideas. You’ll then experience first-hand how the roles of journalist and artist collide when you break into small teams to produce a short documentary.

JOUR 5508Y Professional Practices: Specialized Media - Magazine

Believe it or not, in the age of texts and tweets, long-form journalism is thriving, and the magazines (print and online) that publish them are thriving too. In this course, you’ll read a wide range of classic and contemporary non-fiction, learn how to work with an editor, master the art and craft of writing long pieces, and explore the world of freelance writing in Canada and beyond.

Magazine page layout software
Student making a strategic communications plan

JOUR 5508G/H Professional Practices: Specialized Media - Strategic Communication

This course is about the practice and business of strategic communication. It is designed for students intending to pursue careers in journalism or communications. It is a lab-based course built around a collaborative, group-based exercise aimed at producing a professional-level strategic communications plan for a selected organization. The student teams work with, and produce workable strategic solutions, to meet the real communications issues and needs of their client organization.

JOUR 5508E Professional Practices: Specialized Media - Data Journalism Storytelling

Don’t let the numbers scare you – this is all about storytelling. You’ll learn how to analyze and map data, and turn numbers into powerful and important stories about everything from restaurant inspections to aircraft safety. No 21st century storyteller is complete without the skills you’ll learn in this course.

Data graph
Screenshot of iPolitics

JOUR 5704 Advanced Journalism (Local News) - Centretown and iPolitics/Artsfile

Take advantage of a special work opportunity with the Centretown News workshop in partnership with iPolitics, the widely respected, Ottawa-based digital news company.

Up to 16 students – eight in the fall and eight in the winter – will be immersed in iPolitics’ downtown Ottawa newsroom for a stretch of six weeks while producing content for course assignments that will be collaboratively produced with and potentially posted simultaneously by iPolitics. Students will have the option of working for Artsfile, producing arts and culture pieces.

Spots are limited, so register in the Centretown workshop and then apply for an iPolitics spot by August 1, 2017. Click on Centretown-iPolitics for details.

Course Descriptions

Not all of the courses listed as electives are offered every year, nor are they all open to first-year MJs. Contact your Graduate administrator and check the Graduate Calendar.

Undergraduate students will have priority registration in courses mandatory to their degree (the 4200 and 4300 series of Specialized Journalism courses). All other electives are equally open to graduate and undergraduate students.

Journalism Elective Options for MJs

Fall/Winter 2017-2018

Fall/Winter – 1.0-credit option

JOUR 4201 – Specialized Journalism: Politics and Government
Accreditation to the Parliamentary Press Gallery is your passport to an in-depth exploration of Canada’s government, public policy and politics. Witness the cut and thrust of Parliamentary debate and committee hearings, reporting from the very centre of the action. Immerse yourself in a specialized area of public policy, writing about it regularly with a final, year-end feature and presentation. Each week, there will be in-class discussion of the country’s major events, policy announcements and political developments.

Fall Term – 0.5-credit options

JOUR 4301 – Specialized Journalism: Business and the Markets
The world needs journalists who understand how the economy works, how corporations are governed, operate, succeed and fail and what moves stock markets. This course will give you the basics to start a career as a business journalist. You will learn to analyze corporate performance through the eyes of an Ottawa publicly traded company, profiling its activities and interviewing its executives. A stock market investment exercise lets you build a portfolio and see how news can affect it. You will become familiar with the facts, figures and sources at the core of reporting on the Canadian economy and the businesses that operate within it.

JOUR 4304 – Specialized Journalism: Environment and Science
Climate change is reshaping the planet with far reaching consequences for people and places, plants and animals, air and water. What does the astute journalist need to know to cover climate and the other science disciplines that make up the latest research on the environment? You’ll learn about the Arctic’s melting permafrost, the rise in sea levels, extreme weather conditions and the resulting changes in agriculture and food security. You’ll meet the researchers who work on these challenging areas of science and the science journalists who now cover their stories.

JOUR 4306 – Specialized Journalism: Canada and the World
Interested in becoming a foreign correspondent or international affairs writer? Want to know more about Canada’s role in the world? In Journalism 4306 we examine the elements of Canada’s internationalism – diplomatic, military, humanitarian, commercial – and how each reflects our values and interests. Topics include Canada’s relations with the United States; our long involvement in the United Nations and other international organizations; our commitment to peacekeeping and human rights. We hear from experts in the field, visit the Department of Foreign Affairs, and learn through analytical reporting, readings and student presentations. The point is to explore the past, present and future of Canada in the world, and to equip you with the tools to understand and explain it.

JOUR 4309 – Specialized Journalism: Arts and Culture
Arts and culture journalism remains the most satisfying of writing genres, with opportunities for analysis and storytelling, and an avid readership online. This course introduces key issues while teaching hands-on techniques for writing profiles, reviews, etc. Topics include our celebrity cult, the unholy power of publicists, how to recognize bias or manipulation from sources, the pitfall of “fan-ism,” and the indispensable uses of digital media for your reporting.

JOUR 4310 – Specialized Journalism: Justice and the Law
A protester is arrested, a city refuses to shut down stores selling marijuana, an Indigenous person is sickened by contaminated water, corporations move millions to offshore accounts, the encrypted data from a hospital is sold to a drug company so it can cure cancer – what do all of these things have in common? They are all legal issues. The media is constantly reporting on stories that have a legal element and this course will give you a deeper and thorough understanding of legal issues. Through lectures, discussions and real-world reporting in the courts and beyond you will gain practical knowledge which will allow you to report on the law in a compelling and intelligent way.

JOUR 4312 – Specialized Journalism: Social Issues
From sexual harassment and transgender rights to race relations and religion, this course touches on timely social issues. Should Canada embrace doctor-assisted death? Is the country too soft on crime? Too generous to refugees? You choose your own beat and develop it by generating ideas and writing stories. The course assumes all policy is social policy, and you will be encouraged to follow your passion wherever it leads.

JOUR 4501 – Covering Gender and Diversity
Whether a producer or consumer of journalism, this course will help you better understand how the news media engages with issues of gender and diversity. You’ll examine how changing ideas about gender roles and diversity have affected journalistic expression, newsroom dynamics and professional practice in mainstream and specialized news media. We’ll explore topics such as the representation of LGBTQ and Indigenous communities, politics, sports and parenting, as well as feminism and masculinity.

JOUR 4502 – Journalism and Conflict
Conflict is at the heart of human society and for as long as people have been fighting among themselves, someone has been there to observe what is happening and relay information to others. This course examines a range of issues dealing with journalism and conflict with a particular emphasis on the vantage point of the journalist but also through discussion of interdisciplinary literature and academic research. To be confirmed: a capstone experience involving a military simulation exercise held on a Canadian Forces base, with students playing the role of journalists reporting from a war zone.

Winter Term – 0.5-credit options

JOUR 4100A – Media and International Development
At least since the end of the Second World War, journalism has been used as a tool for international development in disadvantaged nations. The Guardian launched an International Development Journalism Competition, the Aga Khan Foundation supported internship placements in development journalism, and many young, aspiring journalists still hope to effect change for the better in the developing world. This course critically examines the use of journalism as an instrument of international development, historically and currently. To what extent have these efforts been successful? How have they been funded? On what grounds are they justified? In what regard have they been instruments of propaganda?

JOUR 4100B – Freelancing for Media Professionals
Beginning with a freelancer’s toolkit, you will learn to compete in a workforce that increasingly values the skills and mindset of the entrepreneurial journalist. You’ll be trained to find and sell real stories and grow your brand. You’ll study innovative ways to reach audiences and investigate different platforms to fund and advance your career as a media professional. You’ll study the art of the pitch, from the 150-word news pitch to the 500-word feature query to the 10,000-word book proposal or documentary deck. And you’ll walk away with a newfound appreciation for Don Draper’s motto — “Make it simple, but significant.”

JOUR 4100D – Journalism, Indigenous Peoples and Canada
What role should journalists play on the path towards reconciliation between Canadians and Indigenous peoples? This course explores how journalism in Canada has been associated with colonialism, from the foundational narratives of Indigenous peoples during westward expansion through to contemporary stereotypes. The seminar will challenge students to confront misrepresentation in the news media but also consider new strategies and ethical frameworks for covering Indigenous peoples in the era of reconciliation.

JOUR 4302 – Specialized Journalism: Business and Canadian Society
Decisions by businesses shape every aspect of Canadian society. During the term you will explore the role of business on climate change and energy policy, trade and trade agreements, individual and public pensions as well as assessing the impact of corporate social responsibility measures and ethics for business and business journalists. You will also examine the role of labour in business reporting. With the annual federal budget released during the term, you will become familiar with how the federal government raises and spends money and join members of the Parliamentary press gallery in the annual media budget lockup on the day of its release.

JOUR 4303 – Specialized Journalism: Health and Science
Strong journalism about health science is vital to an informed public. Misinformation spreads like a virus on social media and still finds a spot in legacy media: consider the harm caused by anti-vaccine advocacy, food faddism, disease mongering. This course will teach you how to report accurately on new studies and emerging treatments. You’ll learn to use sound research, credible sources, and compelling techniques in health and medical story telling while you meet and interview leading scientists and health journalists.

JOUR 4305 – Specialized Journalism: Canada and the US
There is no more successful relationship in the world than Canada and the United States. In Journalism 4305, we look at how the two counties have lived together peacefully for almost two centuries. We begin by examining the values of Donald Trump’s America and the values of Justin Trudeau’s Canada. Each week, we examine a different part of the relationship – diplomatic, cultural, financial, military. We look at the differences between Canadians and Americans, and ask if we are becoming more alike each other or moving farther apart. We visit the Embassy of the United States, and hear from journalists, diplomats and experts. Like Journalism 4306, which this course follows, the emphasis is on analytical writing.

JOUR 4308 – Specialized Journalism: Sports and Sport Culture
More than play-by-play – you’ll cover live sporting events and learn to look beyond the field to find stories. You’ll read some of the greatest works of sports journalism and analyze some not-so-good sportswriting in order to spot the difference. You’ll meet real athletes and sportswriters and dive into discussions about how best to master the craft.

JOUR 4311 – Specialized Journalism: Justices and Journalists
The Supreme Court of Canada has an enormous effect on our everyday lives. The highest court’s justices routinely make decisions on our rights, free speech, healthcare, criminal justice, religion, immigration and refugees and other pressing issues of our time. It is, therefore, unsurprising that the law intersects with almost every area of journalism at one time or another. In this workshop course, you will cover the Supreme Court of Canada as a beat. You will attend court proceedings as a class and there will be latitude for you to explore your particular interests by writing an enterprise piece for your final project.