Journalism 555A

Winter 2018/Spring 2019

6 credits

This course is for graduate students interested in exploring the unique challenges of international reporting, with a focus on critical analysis of current norms, and experimentation with innovating the practice of global reporting. The course will examine the nature of international news, including a review of the issues and ethics of the genre across mediums. The course places particular emphasis on global reporting techniques through problem-based learning, with a student-led project on an under-reported issue.

This course incorporates the best practice methods of research, reporting, news writing and storytelling. It is an opportunity for students to practice high-level journalistic work under the direction of a team of professional practitioners.

In this course, you will experience the unique challenges of reporting on the world. The course takes a critical approach to “foreign parachute reporting” techniques, and offers students opportunities to experiment with new forms of global journalism. Students will examine real world examples of ethical issues in international reporting. Whenever possible, we will use case studies to examine the rich philosophical and economic elements of this unique field of reporting.

The class will be structured around a two-term project, using information and material gathered during an international field trip. We will produce major works of journalism, with the goal of having it published and/or broadcast by media outlets.

Course Objectives:

  • To identify global stories; research and report on international news; familiarize oneself with the basic skill set needed for mediums
  • To inform students about the practices and behavior of global journalists in the reporting of international affairs
  • To inform students about how to report international stories and to allow them the opportunity to practice
  • To help students grasp the demands and constraints facing journalists around the world, which can influence the flow of information
  • To examine the changing role of international journalism in society
  • To explore the different ways stories are addressed for local, national and international audiences
  • To help you identify what kind of journalist you are and want to become

Course Topic:

This year’s course focuses on global fisheries. Students will research this broad topic, and define areas worth further reporting and investigation. This year we have students from several universities and disciplines collaborating, which will enrich both the learn and journalism experience. Students will be expected to produce works of journalism for one or more media partners, and the best of all of this work will be curated on a project website.

Course Structure:

Given the global collaborative nature of this class, we will be offering an online portal for partners to join class live or watch recorded discussions. Each class will be broken into two sections – one part for discussing the topic and project, and one part for discussing broader global reporting techniques and ethics.

Course work will require collaboration. You will be working with fellow students and faculty members to create professional-quality journalism. You will be expected to incorporate the ideas of others into your projects. This course requires an enormous time commitment, level of research/rigor and energy. You are working to create a publishable work of journalism.

Our goal in this course is to not only impart the intellectual framework for understanding global reporting, but to convey practical skills used by working journalists that each student will be able to employ in the field. Understanding how to work collaboratively is critical for journalists who plan to work in the field of global reporting, and students will have a two-semester-long experience of working closely with their classmates and professors to produce an exceptional piece of journalism.

This is not a technical course. If you require extra support, tutorials will be available on video, audio and media acquisition skills outside of class hours.

As students in this class, you are fellows of the new Global Reporting Program (GRP). The GRP has a twitter account, and each week students are expected to craft at least one tweet related to their reporting or more broadly related to the topic of the class project. (Grade for twitter participation will be determined by the amount of tweeting – 10 tweets = 100%)

Prior to the reporting trip, we will discuss many of the practical aspects of global reporting. Upon return, students will continue to work collaboratively with classmates and global partners on the group project, and each step of the project will be graded as explained below. While we devote half of each class towards completing the term project, we will devote the other half to discussing the broader implications of what we experienced in the field, in a historical, economic and philosophical context.


You will be graded on your conceptualization, writing and producing skills, as well as on your ability to work in a group. Global journalism is often collaborative, and this is the time to practice your communication skills.

Attendance is mandatory, either in person (UBC), synchronously (for international partners) or asynchronously (watching class recording). If you must miss a class, please inform the instructors beforehand. It will be your responsibility to watch recorded class sessions and get filled in by classmates on the status of the group project.

Students who cannot attend in person will be required to submit a weekly reflection on the past week’s readings, research, and any other thoughts or developments. These reflections should be 100 – 250 words long, and all students in the class will be asked to read these comments prior to class. This will allow students who cannot attend live to have an active contribution to classroom discussions, and the instructions will make every effort to address key points in these reflections.

An important part of the first term grade is an annotated bibliography, which reviews and summarizes key literature related to the broad topic, as well as related to the specific topic/location on which the student is focused. It is due at the end of the first semester, before fieldwork begins – no exceptions, late bibliographies will not be graded.

A major part of the second term grade is the final project. The grading is broken into several drafts, which will be produced in teams, with the same grade shared by all team members. There are also several individual assignments.


Unless otherwise discussed in class, all assignments are due 24 hours before class time, to allow all students and faculty to review. Unless otherwise noted, assignments are individual and will be graded.


Story idea memo (P/F) 2.5%
Preliminary story proposal 5%
Annotated bibliography draft (P/F) 2.5%
Final story proposal (team) 10%
Story elements list 5%
Contact list 5%
Prepared interview questions 10%
Production schedule/budget (team) 10%
Annotated bibliography 20%
Twitter contribution (P/F) 10%
Attendance/Reflections (P/F) 10%
Participation 10%


Preliminary story summary 5%
Story outline 5%
Selects 5%
Story summary 5%
First draft (team) 5%
Rough draft (team) 15%
Fine draft (team) 15%
Final draft (team) 30%
Twitter contribution 5%
Participation (including participating during exam period) 10%

Course Schedule:





PART 1: Introduction to Global Reporting

This class will define “Global Reporting” and introduce students to a brief history of the genre, including different approaches to “foreign reporting,” “parachute reporting,” “empowerment reporting” and other methods of covering the world.

We will discuss how the class will work, especially with respect to collaborating with various partners. We will also review the GRP handbook of best practices, ethics and etiquette.

PART 2: Project Topic Discussion

We will discuss ideas for this year’s project.

Assignment:  Students will begin working on research, as well as contact list. Submit story idea pitch (individual) to central portal for classmates to read before class, and be prepared to present story ideas during next class.

Students who cannot attend the following week’s class live should also submit their reflection into the portal 24 hours before class time.


Fixing the Journalist-Fixer Relationship, Harvard’s Nieman Reports

Global Journalism Education: Challenges and Innovations, Introduction (pp.1-16)




PART 1: Global Journalism Practices

Explore different global reporting norms and practices around the world, and discuss best practices. Issues addressed will include: key primary and secondary sources of information abroad, the use of translators and fixers, and vetting sources abroad.

Non-governmental organizations do some very good work in foreign locations, and they are often anxious to work with journalists. We will discuss the benefits and hazards of working with NGOs, and will look at how the involvement of these groups can influence the objectivity and perspective of reporting.

PART 2: Project Topic Selection

We will discuss the challenges of reporting on the topic selected. Students will present their pitches (2 minutes per pitch) and we will have brief discussions about each idea, addressing these key questions: Who could be the characters? What is compelling about this story? Where would we go? Why is this a story we should cover now? How might this story be told?

Students will also contribute ideas about content, form and collaboration. How do we pitch this series to media partners? To whom should we pitch this project? What kind of partnerships would we like to create?

Assignment: Submit preliminary story proposal (individual)


What Data Journalists Need to Do Differently (

How reader engagement helped unearth the Shell tape


GIJN’s Global Guide to Freedom of Information: FOI Tips and Tricks





PART 1: Research Methods

We will discuss a variety of research methods, including:

Accessing information in various countries

Freedom of information

Boolean searches

Sources of data

Using crowdsourcing

Using social media

Investigative mindset

PART 2: Editorial discussion

We will start honing down the topic and reporting locations. In particular, we will focus on specific global trends and connections between locations. We will have guests in class from around the world, discussing research approaches and techniques in different countries.

Assignment: Submit preliminary annotated bibliography (draft) (P/F for participation). Come prepared to discuss research findings to date.


GIJN Guide for Investigating Supply Chain – read supplemental material too (

Review website of FISHcrime symposium, and scan through past symposium findings –




Research Findings

Students will summarize research findings to date. Guest in class will be Dr. Jane Lister, who will be attending the Fish Crime conference in Copenhagen on behalf of the program. We will present to her our research findings, questions and needs.

PART 2: Project Workshop

We will discuss some of the specific challenges of reporting on this topic, including safety concerns, challenges of accessing information and complexity of storytelling. We will pair up in teams based on interest, abilities and geographical location.

Assignment: Story Proposal (team).


Ethics of Fixer-Reporter relationship

Ethics of reporting on vulnerable subjects

Stephen Ward on global media ethics 




PART 1:  Global Journalism Ethics

We will discuss some of the unique ethical challenges of reporting on global issues, and of doing cross-border reporting.

PART 2: Pitch to Media Partner

We will pitch the project to media partner and get feedback from media partner.

Assignment: Refine story proposal (grade revision possible).


Introduction to Framing Theory


“Studying the Effects of Framing on Public Opinion about Policy Issues Does What We See Depend on How We Look?” Paul R. Brewer and Kimberly Gross  – Chapter 7 of Doing News Framing Analysis Empirical and Theoretical Perspectives, Edited by Paul D’Angelo and Jim A. Kuypers (2010)


Us vs them: the sinister techniques of ‘Othering’ – and how to avoid them, by john a. powell (sic). Guardian. 11/8/17

Optional Readings: (these will be assigned in second term for the “Trappings of Orientalism” lecture, but you may want to review them now)

“The Road to Morocco,” by Albert Hourani. New York Review of Books. 3/8/79. (Original review of Edward Said’s “Orientalism”)


“The Question of Orientalism,” by Bernard Lewis. New York Review of Books. 6/24/82


“Orientalism: An Exchange,” Edward Said and Oleg Grabar. New York Review of Books, 8/12/82. (response to Lewis’ piece)





PART 1: Casting, Framing and Representation

We will discuss how “foreigners” are often represented in the media, and will examine some of the common problems with representation and framing in international reporting. We will also discuss some of the history of Orientalism, neo-colonial practices in journalism, and the risks of “othering” story subjects.

PART 2: Casting for Project

We will have an editorial discussion, focused on characters and sources, with an eye towards the issues discussed in part 1 of class.

Assignment: Contact list due.  Fill out draft story elements

No Readings This Week




Editorial Meeting

We will have an update on research from Dr. Lister after her time at the Fish Crimes conference, and we will have a guest lecture from Dr. Peter Dauvergne, an expert on global environmental politics.

Assignment: Story elements due.


“The Art of the Interview,” by María Emilia Martin – Chapter 22 in Reporter’s Guide to the Millennium Development Goals: Covering Development Commitments for 2015 and Beyond





Assignment: Submit annotated bibliography (late assignments will not be accepted)

PART 1: Interviewing

We will look at specific challenges with interviewing in foreign languages and foreign cultures, and for global audiences.

PART 2: Interviewing for Project

We will discuss how we want to approach specific interviews, what we want to get out of them and how each team should approach interview questions.

Readings: TBA




PART 1: Global Journalism Economics

We will discuss the economic issues related to global reporting, how reporting budgets and priorities have changed over the years, and different approaches to funding global journalism in various parts of the world. We will also discuss alternative funding models for global reporting, and will discuss sources of funding for entry-level journalists around the world to take on ambitious global reporting projects.

PART 2: Budgeting Project

We will review the production schedules and production budgets, and review logistics for travel and field reporting.

Assignment: 1) Each team please write 2 paragraphs that address the key elements of your story.  Proposals due Wednesday, 11/7 at 6 pm PT.

2) Each team create a preliminary budget. Due Friday, 11/9, at 9:30 am.

Readings: TBA




PART 1: Global Journalism Safety 

We will discuss the risks and dangers of global reporting, and will look at how global reporting hazards have changed over the past century. We will also discuss the risks of harassment (in the field and online).

PART 2: Staying Safe in the Field

We will discuss specific techniques for staying safe and healthy while reporting around the world. UBC students will also receive a mandatory briefing from Go Global. We will also complete a vicarious trauma assessment. We will conclude class with an editorial meeting about the project.

Assignment: Budget/Production schedule due Friday, 11/16, at 9:30 am PT.




PART 1: Minimizing Harm

Now that we are working with specific stories and characters, we will discuss the ethical implications of working with vulnerable populations. Part of this class will include a discussion about the risks of putting foreign sources in harm’s way while reporting, and dealing with the expectations of interview subjects.

We will also have an update on research from Dr. Lister after her time at the Fish Crimes conference, and we will have a guest lecture from Dr. Peter Dauvergne, an expert on global environmental politics.

PART 2: Minimizing Harm with Class Project

We will discuss specific challenges within our class project and planned locations, and will brainstorm on how to minimize harm to communities upon which we will be reporting.

Assignment: Each student is expected to turn in 3 sets of prepared interview questions for intended interviews. Questions due Friday, 11/23, at 9:30 am PT.


Week 12


Trip Preparation

The entire class period will be focused on reviewing final details in preparation for travel. A discussion around team dynamics. Who takes the lead on what part of the project (from logistics to subjects)? How to manage emotions in the field? What happens when things don’t go according to plan?





Trip Postmortem

We will spend time in class discussing the editorial elements captured in the field, and how to structure the final project. We will also spend time organizing media and discussing the post-production schedule, and will begin sketching out the structure of the project.

Assignment: Begin compiling selects. Write team story summary.




Ethics After the Field

During this class we will discuss any ethical concerns that arose in the field, and how possible ethical issues that could arise in producing the project. We will also spend time discussing your selects items and your stories.

Assignment: Finalize selects. Begin working on story outline.




Advanced Structure

We will discuss the structure of the project, including detailed structure outlines for each of the individual pieces. We also plan to connect with editors at our media partner and begin planning details of the final project. We will analyze best practices examples for content, characters, elements, structure.

Assignment: Finalize story outline.





We will work in small teams workshopping your outlines and project structure. We will also review additional reporting and fieldwork that may be needed.

Assignment: Story summary due. Begin working on first draft.




Advanced Writing

We will discuss the specific challenges of writing about international issues, including how to capture the audience’s attention and how to convey the historical, political and economic context of complex foreign stories. We will analyze best practices writing examples in all mediums.

Assignment: Finalize first draft. First drafts will be distributed to students and faculty in advance of following week’s class, and will be presented in class.




First Draft Presentations

We will spend this class period going over first drafts.

Assignment: Begin working on rough draft.





Trappings of Orientalism

We will discuss stereotypes and archetypical “Orientalism” storytelling forms, both in general and as it relates to our project. We will discuss specific stereotypes related to our story location and topic. Check in on individual story status.

Assignment: Finalize rough draft. Rough drafts will be distributed to students and faculty in advance of next class (after Reading Week), and will be presented in class.




Rough Draft Presentation

We will spend this class period going over rough drafts.

Assignment: Begin work on fine draft.




The Future of International Reporting

We will discuss the market for international reporting, both as a staffer at a news organization and opportunities for free-lancers. Part of this class will also be spent on workshopping fine drafts.

Assignment: Finalize fine draft. Fine drafts will be distributed to students and faculty in advance of next class, and will be presented in class.




Fine Draft Presentation

We will spend this class period going over rough drafts.

Assignment: Begin working on final draft.




Assignment: Continue working on final draft.




We will spend this class time working on the project and putting pieces of individual stories together in a cohesive multimedia project.

Assignment: Work with web design team to finalize details of project. Finalize final draft. Final drafts will be distributed to students and faculty in advance of next class, and will be presented in class.




Final Draft Presentation

We will work in class finalizing the final drafts of the project for the media partner(s). Mandatory attendance.




Launch Project