Community Journalism at Home and Abroad

"Democracy dies in darkness" ­ The Washington Post

"Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."  Thomas Jefferson

"News is what someone wants suppressed….what we print and what we don't print matter a lot." — Katharine Graham

“You pepper the media with so many gaffes they are confused.” — former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Inside the Classroom

In this course, you will help to provide Metro Richmond residents with the news they need to make informed decisions about things that matter. You will see how good local journalism is essential to the health of a vibrant, engaged community, both in the United States and in Great Britain.

You will learn how to determine what makes news and the different ways news is reported and produced.

You will learn how to cover people and institutions of power and influence. And you will also learn to write feature articles and human-interest stories that paint a fuller picture of the people and places that make up our community.

Classwork will take a liberal arts approach, so you will have readings in news, politics, government, education, social policy, music and poetry (ask me why), and any other topic that will make you a better journalist. Texts may include:

Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel The Elements of Journalism

Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement

Ronan Farrow Catch and Kill

Fred Bayles Field Guide to Covering Local News

Jock Lauterer Community Journalism: Relentlessly Local

John Bender, Lucinda Davenport, Michael Drager, Fred Fedler Writing and Reporting for the Media

James E Ryan Five Miles Away, A World Apart

Beth Macy Dopesick

Matthew Desmond Evicted

Bryan Stevenson Just Mercy

You will also receive detailed training about various forms of news production.

Outside the Classroom

We are partnering with media in underserved, underrepresented areas of Metro Richmond to give you experience as a professional journalist. You will have opportunities to compete head-to-head with veterans as well as create your own path covering people, issues and institutions neglected by traditional media in Richmond. In other words, you will have what is known as a beat to cover and be responsible for producing news that serves your section of the community.

Class Travel

There are two components to class travel:  London, England, and a wider exploration of Metro Richmond.

We will start with an extensive exploration of Metro Richmond, not just the nice parts around campus. Discover what it means to be part of an extended community. Eat, shop and invest yourself (with UR funds) just as a professional journalist would.

During our trip to London, England, we’ll visit community journalists there and then travel again to spend a day or so with journalism students at the University of Northampton. We’ll also have cultural opportunities in London and you’ll have some time on your own for exploration.