Syllabus: Reporting race, gender and diversity in America
The United States has always been a story of diversity and evolving identity — from the roots planted many generations ago by Native Americans, immigrants and enslaved peoples to the fresh traditions brought by those arriving from all over the world.
Journalists must have a solid understanding of the communities that make up America today, including awareness about our enmeshed histories. Together these provide a vision of how to report fairly and fully within any beat. This course examines the media’s role in shaping perceptions about social groups and the inequities that trouble our nation, their root causes, and potential solutions. During the semester, students will go out into the neighborhoods to report on issues across differences of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.
- Evaluate news values in the context of diverse human experiences, identities and cultures.
- Develop research skills to enhance interviews and community awareness, using resources such as ethnic media and the U.S. Census.
- Improve interviewing skills with careful listening and sources from a range of perspectives.
- Recognize power relationships, including the relative privilege or marginalization of social groups, including one’s own.
- Recognize, report on, analyze and discuss structures that lead to inequity and injustice.
- Identify media practices, frames and other effects that shape perceptions about difference, inequity and appropriate policies in areas such as health, education, crime and government.
- Appreciate the importance of journalism in a democratic society, especially as related to representations of race, gender, generation, geography, religion and physical ability.
- Appreciate and engage with the ethical issues and personal challenges posed by reporting across social difference.
This course will acquaint students with covering diversity across multiple aspects of identity and their intersections, with example application areas in health, education, criminal justice and government. Students will develop their knowledge of theoretical frameworks, gain skills and practices, and learn how to apply all three in reporting and writing in core beat areas.
Suggested class materials include general texts that supply a theoretical framework, book chapters, and print or online readings that apply to class topics, and films. We recommend that students follow news coverage of their communities of interest and comment on it depending on the class topic. Instructors can guide students to relevant articles or ask students to do their own research. Readings can be selected from those suggested based on the emphasis of the course designed. Separately, several books are proposed for the instructor’s use and selected chapters may lend themselves to student use as well.
Suggested chapters from the following books are listed with the relevant class.
- Clint C. Wilson, Felix Gutierrez and Lena M. Chao, Racism, Sexism and the Media: Multicultural Issues Into the New Communications Age, 2012.
- Sally Lehrman, News in a New America, Knight Foundation, 2006. To request copies, contact email@example.com.
- Sue Ellen Christian, Overcoming Bias: A Journalist’s Guide to Culture and Context, 2011.
- Herbert Gans, Democracy and the News, 2003.
- Maurianne Adams, et al. Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, 2013.
- Patrick Lee Plaisance, Media Ethics: Key Principles for Responsible Practice, 2009.
- Coverage of community issues, NewsTrust website.
- Asian American Voices, 2010.
- Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans, 2009.
- Grapes of Wrath, 1940.
- Hate Crimes in the Heartland, 2014.
- Latinos Beyond Reel: Challenging a Media Stereotype, 2012.
- Welcome to Shelbyville, 2009.
For the professor
- Kim Case (editor), Deconstructing Privilege: Teaching and Learning as Allies in the Classroom, 2013.
- William C. Cockerham, Social Causes of Health and Disease, 2013.
- Shaun L. Gabbidon and Helen Taylor Greene, Race and Crime, 2013.
- Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald, Blindspot: The Hidden Biases of Good People, 2013.
Note: One effective method of organizing this course is to assign students to particular ethnic or racial groups or neighborhoods for the entire semester, adding intersections with gender, class, sexual orientation or other identities for specific assignments. In this way they are able to develop sophisticated knowledge about a particular group, including its local experience and issues, and also develop complexity in their understanding.
- Analysis of online news, NewsTrust website.
- Community event, observation or event podcast.
- Literature review.
- Blog posts (300 words).
- Beat story (800 words).
- Profile of a community leader (800 words).
- Final enterprise feature or podcast (1,200 words or three-minute podcast).
- Reporter’s journal blog, including reflection on ethical dilemmas encountered.
Weekly schedule and exercises (13-week course)
The assumption of this syllabus is that the course will meet twice a week. It is also assumed that students will have completed at least one basic reporting class before taking this course.
Week 1: The power of news
Class 1: Historical, ethical and demographic frameworks for covering diversity
This class will involve the discussion of the ethical underpinnings for inclusion in the news and the mainstream media’s bumpy history in attempting to achieve this.
- Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists.
- Media Ethics, chapters 1 to 4
- Emily T. Metzgar and Bill W. Hornaday, “Leaving It There? The Hutchins Commission and Modern American Journalism,” Journal of Mass Media Ethics, October 2013.
- Excerpts from Kerner Commission Report, 1968.
Class 2: Patterns of coverage
The news media have been criticized for overlooking some ethnic and racial groups in a given community and demonizing others. In this class students can discuss patterns in coverage and develop general principles for effective reporting.
- News in a New America, chapter 1.
- Racism, Sexism and the Media, chapters 1-3.
- Travis L. Dixon and Daniel Linz, “Overrepresentation and Underrepresentation of African Americans and Latinos as Lawbreakers on Television News,” Journal of Communication, June 2000.
- Franklin D. Gilliam Jr., Nicholas A. Valentino and Matthew N. Beckmann, “Where You Live and What You Watch: The Impact of Racial Proximity and Local Television News on Attitudes about Race and Crime,” Political Research Quarterly, December 2002.
- Clay Shirky, “Dark Shadows: In Washington, Murder Turns Out to Be Color-coded,” Columbia Journalism Review, March 2013.
Select a story in the news, then compare ethnic media to mainstream outlets’ coverage. What differences do you notice? Can you categorize those differences into areas such as news values, source selection, level of context and background? Write a 300-word blog post on your findings.
Week 2: Who lives here?
Class 1: A portrait of your community
The U.S. Census provides a rich portrait of communities across America. It is a helpful starting point for coverage ideas. Census categories have changed dramatically over time, and continue to do so. How does this reflect thinking about U.S. social groups over the years, and considering the role of the Census in shaping policy, how does it affect our thinking?
- Daniel Lichter, “Integration or Fragmentation? Racial Diversity and the American Future,” Demography, April 2013.
- Ron Brownstein, “Our Diverse Suburbs,” National Journal, July 2012.
- “Census Bureau: Minorities in U.S. Growing Toward a Majority,” Journalist’s Resource, October 2012.
- “New Views on Urban Communities and Poverty in the United States,” Journalist’s Resource, August 2012.
- Jennifer Leeman, “Racializing Language: A History of Linguistic Ideologies in the U.S. Census,” Journal of Language & Politics, December 2004; or Paul Schor, “Mobilising for Pure Prestige? Challenging Federal Census Ethnic Categories in the USA (1850-1940),” International Social Science Journal, March 2005.
Spend 60 minutes learning about and exploring the American Community Survey on Census.gov. Start with lessons 1, 3 and 4 in the e-tutorial and view videos 1, 3 and 5, plus any others of interest. Come up with three questions about your community. Research them using the “population profiles” feature, and write three story ideas based on your findings. Based on the readings, write a 300-word blog post about the U.S. Census category that applies to you now, compared to the categories that would have applied to your ancestors in 1930 or 1950. How might the categorization of their race have affected your ancestors’ life experience?
Class 2: Who has a stake? Who has a story?
Break into groups to share what you have learned about your community. What types of stories and beats most commonly include your community? What issues seem to be important? What voices (either specifically or collectively) should a reporter consult in order to achieve a representative sampling of your community? Consider what you learned from the American Community Survey and additional online research.
Spend at least 60 minutes online and identify five interesting things about the community you will be covering. Look for leaders; political, social and cultural groups; and recent news events and issues affecting the community. Write a 300-word blog post about your findings. Search calendars to identify a community event that you can attend by the end of Week 3.
Week 3: News, critically
Class 1: Identity and perspective
Reporters always have, because of their personal history and biography, a position relative to any topic, even if they don’t have one on the topic. It’s important that we understand ourselves, our backgrounds and our roles within a larger sociological context, in order to best reduce bias and recognize areas of potential challenge.
- “Diversity Wheel,” Diversity Leadership Council, Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
- News in a New America, chapter 2.
- Media Ethics, chapters 5-6.
- Peggy McIntosh, “How Studying Privilege Systems Can Strengthen Compassion,” TEDx TimberlaneSchools (18 minutes).
- Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, chapters 1-3.
- American Society of Newspaper Editors, Newsroom Diversity Census, 2013.
Using the Diversity Wheel, write down what you feel is your identity in each section, how others see you and if it’s different from your self-perception. In pairs, discuss one part of your identity that may help you understand non-majority perspectives, and another that might make these harder to see.
Class 2: Stereotypes and stigmatization
Reporters can inadvertently rely on stereotypes when deciding what constitutes a story and what sources to use. Even when they don’t, they may stigmatize groups and activate stereotypes on the part of the audience.
- Rachel Shukert, “Two Roma Child-Trafficking Sagas Underscore a Larger Context of European Prejudice,” Tablet, Oct. 25, 2013.
- Pamela Raul, “Is Race Reflected by Your Outfit?” New York Times, Oct. 14, 2011.
- Jonathan B. Freeman, et al., “Looking the Part: Social Status Cues Shape Race Perception,” PLoS ONE, September 2011.
- Bradley W. Gorham, “The Social Psychology of Stereotypes: Implications for Media Audiences,” Beyond Blackface: Africana Images in U.S. Media, 2012.
- Sandra L. Borden. “Detroit: Exploiting Images of Poverty,” Journal of Mass Media Ethics, April 2013.
- Edward Wasserman, “Ethics of Poverty Coverage,” Journal of Mass Media Ethics, June 2013.
Answer questions as part of the Maynard Institute’s “Diversity Game.” Write a blog post about what you learned and the challenges you faced.
Week 4: Power and privilege
Class 1: Categories, intersections, fault lines
The fault lines framework of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education helps journalists understand how they see the news through the prism of their own experience, and also provides a tool to widen the lens. Pick an issue in the news or an event and discuss its impact or significance to people seen from each fault-line perspective. Now find two fault lines that intersect in interesting ways with the issue area or news event. Finally, what is the best way to apply this tool without slipping into stereotypes?
- Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, chapter 33, “Wealth Gaps Rise to Record Highs Between Whites, Blacks, Hispanics: Twenty-to-One.”
- Anne Fausto-Sterling, “The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female Are Not Enough,” The Sciences, March/April 1993.
- Ryan Gibson, “Generation Y Stereotypes,” Generation Y: Learn about the Generation, April 2, 2013.
- Nari Rhee, “Race and Retirement Security in the United States,” National Institute on Retirement Security, 2013.
- Michael A. Fletcher, “Many Blacks and Latinos Have No Retirement Savings, Study Shows,” Washington Post, Dec. 9, 2013.
- Colin Woodard, “Up in Arms,” Tufts magazine, fall 2013
Write an essay or create a podcast on a community event.
Class 2: Implicit bias and other phenomena
We all carry biases — sometimes conscious, sometimes not — shaped by our upbringing and the society in which we live. The news environment powerfully influences these attitudes, but journalists can break out of the cycle by understanding how implicit bias works. Discuss the results of your own Implicit Association Test and pick one of the “perception trap” techniques from the Sally Lehrman article that you would like to try this week.
- Franklin D. Gilliam Jr. and Shanto Iyengar, “Prime Suspects: The Influence of Local Television News on the Viewing Public,” American Journal of Political Science, July 2000.
- Matt A. Barreto, et al., “The Impact of Media Stereotypes on Opinions and Attitudes about Latinos,” National Hispanic Media Coalition, September 2012. Notice the distinction between types of media and their effects.
- Sally Lehrman, “Freshen and Deepen Your Interviewing Skills,” Quill, July/August 2013
- Overcoming Bias, chapters 1-3.
- Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, chapters 4 and 6
- Implicit Association Test, from Harvard University, Ben Gurion University, the University of Washington, University of Virginia and University of Florida.
Read the Psychological Science study “Economic Inequality Is Linked to Biased Self-Perception” at Journalist’s Resource. Citing some of the general insights in that study, write a blog post about issues of privilege and class on your college campus and the surrounding community. As best you can, try to find some data — from state and Census Bureau sources — that help put your observations in socioeconomic and demographic context.
Week 5: The pictures and words we choose
Class 1: Framing and language
After the Associated Press recommended against using the term “illegal immigrant,” many newsrooms dropped its use, but the New York Times did not. Split into teams that defend each position from a journalism-ethics standpoint. What other terms might be considered “loaded” and deserve careful reflection before use? Consider the articles on the negative framing of Islam and the links between media coverage and perceptions about Muslims. How should journalists act on the findings?
- Overcoming Bias, chapter 4.
- Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, chapter 18.
- Jennifer Merolla, et al., “Illegal,” “Undocumented,” “Unauthorized”: The impact of issue frames on perceptions of immigrants,” Perspectives on Politics, September 2013.
- Mary Beth Oliver, et al., “Effect of Narrative News Format on Empathy for Stigmatized Groups,” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, March 2012.
- Paul Colford, “Illegal Immigrant No More,” Associated Press blog, April 2, 2013.
- Huan Hsu, “No More Chinks in the Armor,” Slate, Feb. 21, 2012.
- Kimberly Powell, “Framing Islam: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of Terrorism Since 9-11,” Communication Studies, January-March 2011.
- Brian J. Bowe, Shahira Fahmy and Wayne Wanta, “Missing Religion: Second-level Agenda Setting and Islam in American Newspapers,” International Communication Gazette, 2013.
Class 2: Institutional barriers
Digital newsrooms are generally less diverse than print or broadcast ones. What should news organizations do to ensure that their coverage is inclusive of diverse peoples and ideas? Some sites, like the Root, VivirLatino and AsianWeek, target audiences often overlooked by mainstream sites.
- Edward Schumacher-Matos, “Six National Leaders and Experts Look at Diversity at NPR,” NPR Ombudsman, April 30, 2012.
- Julie Zeilinger, “Women Journalists Still Underrepresented in the Newsroom, Study Finds,” Huffington Post, July 17, 2013.
- News in a New America, chapters 3-4; skim appendix (data is on the ASNE website).
- Marcia Stepanek, “The New Digital Divide,” Stanford Social Innovation Review, June 4, 2010.
- Pepper Miller, “Digital Divide: Segregation Is Alive and Well in Digital Media,” AdAge, Feb. 1, 2011.
- Matt Richtel, “Wasting Time Is New Divide in Digital Era,” New York Times, May 29, 2012.
Profile of a community leader (800 words).
Week 6: Religion
Class 1: Religion and language
How well do journalists cover the changing landscape of religion in American life? In news stories that involve religious groups, “fundamentalist” is a common term. What does it mean? What uses are appropriate? Discuss other terms and frames often applied in coverage of religious groups.
- Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, chapters 43-44.
- Pew Center on Religion and Public Life, Religious Landscape Survey, reports 1 and 2.
- Rachel Gillum, “There Is No Difference in Religious Fundamentalism between American Muslims and Christians,” Washington Post, Dec. 16, 2013.
- Chris Matyszczyk, “Can Science ‘Cure’ Religious Fundamentalism?” CNet, June 1, 2013.
- Rebecca Savastio, “Religious Fundamentalism May Be Categorized as a Mental Illness Experts Say,” Liberty Voice, Aug. 7, 2013.
- David Kerr, “Benedict XVI: Fundamentalism a ‘Falsification’ of Religion,” Catholic News Agency, Sept. 14, 2012.
- “Fundamentalists Disrupt Interfaith Kristallnacht Remembrance in Argentina,” Jerusalem Post, Nov. 14, 2013.
- Rod Dreher, “Duck Dynasty Mess Revealed That Not All Fundamentalists Live in the Bible Belt,” Time magazine, Dec. 29, 2013.
- Jodi Rudoren, “Israel’s Efforts to Limit Use of Holocaust Terms Raise Free-Speech Questions,” New York Times, Jan. 15, 2014.
Class 2: Religion and social issues
Religious differences can become a focal point for discrimination and conflict over policy. Changing U.S. demographics and immigration bring these issues to the forefront in many institutions.
- Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, chapters 49, 51, 53 and 59.
- Welcome to Shelbyville, 2009.
- Steven L. Neuberg, et al., “Religion and Intergroup Conflict: Findings from the Global Group Relations Project,” Psychological Science, November 2013.
- “Religious Hostilities Reach Six-Year High,” Pew Research Religion & American Life Project, Jan. 14, 2014.
- Melanie Trottman, “Religious Discrimination on the Rise,” Wall Street Journal, Oct. 27, 2013.
- Maya Rhodan, “Evangelicals Battle Over ‘Biblical’ Immigration,” Time, Oct. 22, 2013.
Choose a study from the “religion” category at Journalist’s Resource. Write a blog post about the study’s findings and suggest ways that it could help inform deeper media coverage of religious issues. Discuss the role of stereotypes in the relevant area of religious life.
Week 7: Race and ethnicity
Class 1: When is race relevant?
The Associated Press Stylebook says “race is pertinent … for suspects sought by the police or missing person cases using police or other credible, detailed descriptions.” Based on your readings up to now on identity, media effects and journalism ethics, what should reporters consider when deciding whether or not to identify a person’s race in stories?
- Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, chapters 8-10, 16-17.
- Keith Woods, “The Language of Race,” Poynter.org, March 2, 2011.
- The Associated Press Stylebook entry on “race.”
- Lindsay Millar, “When Is It Appropriate to Use Race in Crime Reporting?” Arkansas Times, Aug. 3, 2011.
- Rolyne Joseph and Hanqing Chen, “The Zimmerman Effect? NYC Media Shies Away From Race in Local Robbery Reporting,” iMediaEthics, Aug. 22, 2013.
- Matt Apuzzo, “U.S. to Expand Rules Limiting Use of Profiling by Federal Agents,” New York Times, Jan. 16, 2014.
Based on your reading of Matt Apuzzo’s article above and the U.S. Census history from week 2, what categories of “race” should be used? Are crime stories a special case? Brainstorm ideas, both pro- and con-, with a partner. You and your partner should then write opposing blog posts on the topic of using race in crime reports, from a journalism ethics standpoint.
Class 2: Color-blind and color-conscious
In an article for Poynter.org (below) journalist Eric Deggans asserts that news coverage of George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin over-emphasized racial conflict or racial profiling while attempting to discern Zimmerman’s individual attitudes. Analysts in a special issue of the journal Theory & Event argue that in fact, the news media missed a valuable opportunity to examine important social questions related to racial suspicion and violence in American society. Have the class split into teams that defend each position: Should the Zimmerman coverage have been color-blind or color-conscious? Also to be considered: Was gender properly or improperly overlooked?
- Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, chapter 20.
- Eric Deggans, “Why Ethics and Diversity Matter: The Case of Trayvon Martin Coverage,” Poynter.org, Oct. 23, 2012.
- Phillip Atiba Goff, “Running from Race in Our Own Minds,” Huffington Post, March 24, 2012.
- Phillip Atiba Goff et al., “Racism Leads to Pushups: How Racial Discrimination Threatens Subordinate Men’s Masculinity,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2012.
- Lorraine Devon Wilke, “It Is About Race: Study Finds Significant Racial Bias in ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws,” AddictingInfo, July 14, 2013.
- Michael Hanchard, “You Shall Have the Body: On Trayvon Martin’s Slaughter,” Theory & Event, 2012.
- Anna Marie Smith, “Deadly Force and Public Reason,” Theory & Event, 2012.
- Anne Norton, “Fearful Privilege,” Theory & Event, 2012.
- Thomas Plaut, et al., “Is Multiculturalism or Color Blindness Better for Minorities?” Psychological Science, 2009.
Talk to a variety of sources on your campus and the surrounding community about the way racial issues are discussed and ask them how they believe race should be covered. Write a news article or blog post about perceptions of race and media in your community. If possible, tie the discussion to an event, anniversary or other news “peg.”
Week 8: Gender
Class 1: Interpreting gender identity
Coverage choices by journalists influence the use and meaning of social categories, while research can become a foundation for ideologies both within and outside of the newsroom. How can journalists avoid becoming the “infomercial for cherished beliefs” that Diane Halpern references below?
- Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, chapters 60-61.
- Diane Halpern, “How Neuromythologies Support Sex Role Stereotypes,” Science, Dec. 10, 2010.
- Elman Azim, et al., “Sex Differences in Brain Activation Elicted by Humor,” PNAS, Nov. 8, 2005. (Students can skim the technical details and pay the most attention to the introduction, conclusions about women and humor; they should notice study size and the population studied.)
- Randolph Schmid, “Women May Enjoy Humor More, If It’s Funny,” Washington Post, Nov. 7, 2005.
- “Study Says Women Genetically Prefer Funny Men,” UPI, July 26, 2013.
- Review Fausto-Sterling’s article, “The Five Sexes.”
Class 2: Reporting sociological trends
Journalists are often responsible for reporting on sociological trends in society, such as women’s involvement in earning power and leadership, or attitudes about social relations and stigma. Sociological research can offer a solid foundation for this type of reporting, but journalists must offer context such as previous research and comments from experts who can offer insight on the report’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, chapter 66, “Women’s Pay: Why the Gap Remains a Chasm.”
- “A Survey of LGBT Americans’ Attitudes, Experiences and Values in Changing Times,” Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends, June 13, 2013.
- Katherine B. Coffman, “The Size of the LGBT Population and the Magnitude of Anti-gay Sentiment,” National Bureau of Economic Research, November 2013.
- “U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013 Report on Women’s Earnings,” October 2013.
- Constantine Van Hoffman, “Are Men or Women Doing Better in the Recovery?” CBS News, Nov. 19, 2013.
Read the article “Female Victims of Sexual Violence” at Journalist’s Resource. Using the information there as background, write a campus-based story about issues of safety and gender on campus. Be sure to mention wider trends in terms of policy changes and data on these issues.
Week 9: Broadening the view
Class 1: 360-degree interviewing
To report accurately and fully on an event or issue, journalists must consider a variety of perspectives. Take your story idea and map out how you would achieve a 360-degree perspective on your topic. Based on your readings and discussions so far, how would you build trust with the sources you have identified?
- Overcoming Bias, chapters 5-6.
- Media Ethics, chapters 7-8.
- Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, chapter 59.
Class 2: Listening and cross-checking perceptions and facts.
The interview itself, and the material generated, have many complexities that can introduce issues of cultural bias and misunderstanding. Getting at the “truth” of what an individual is saying is no easy task. Part of success as a journalist is proper preparation, but it is also a matter of finely calibrated technique and practice — and awareness of our own tendencies to simplify.
- Overcoming Bias, chapters 7-10.
- Erving Goffman, “On Face-Work: An Analysis of Ritual Elements in Social Interaction,” University of Chicago, 1967.
- Chip Scanlan, “How Journalists Can Become Better Interviewers,” Poynter Institute, March 4, 2013.
- Christopher B. Daly and Leighton Walter Kille, “Interviewing a Source: Rules of the Road; Talking with Officials and Experts,” Journalist’s Resource, Jan. 29, 2013.
- Film: Anna Deaveare Smith, Twilight: Los Angeles, 2000. Watch the complete film or read the excerpts and discussion.
- Naomi Matsuoka, “Murakami Haruki and Anna Deavere Smith: Truth by Interview,” Comparative Literature Studies, 2002.
Read Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker essay “The Naked Face” and Daniel Kahneman’s four-part Bloomberg series “Bias, Blindness and How We Truly Think.” Blog about the science of human intuition and judgment in assessing situations, and highlight some ideas that might be useful for journalists to keep in mind as they conduct interviews and reporting.
Week 10: Public health
Class 1: Disparities in longevity and health outcomes
Public health experts use the social determinants of health framework to illuminate the social conditions that can lead to unequal opportunity in society. By understanding the uneven distribution of resources in a community and resulting disparities in living and working conditions, the policies underpinning these can be addressed. Discuss the Health Disparities and Inequalities Report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, looking especially for intersections between gender and race, ethnicity, age or geographic location. In your community, what neighborhood and social conditions may lie behind some of the unequal outcomes described?
- Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, chapter 7, “Structure as the Subject of Justice.”
- Paula A. Braveman, et al., “Broadening the Focus: The Need to Address the Social Determinants of Health,” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Jan. 11, 2014.
- Health Disparities and Inequalities Report, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013. Read the sections “Social Determinants of Health,” “Environmental Hazards,” Health Outcomes: Morbidity” and “Health Outcomes: Mortality.”
Class 2: Policy intersections in health
In the New York Times and Environmental Health News readings below, reporters dig into the policies and practices that lead to unequal living conditions and in turn, poor health outcomes for particular groups of people. Pick one, identify the sources the reporter used, and write a paragraph about the reporting strategies that supported the story. Alternately, consider the social and living conditions that shape opportunity for your focus community. What policies and institutional practices might contribute to these conditions? Develop three questions or one story idea based on your hunch.
- Annice E. Kim, et al. “Coverage and Framing of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities in U.S. Newspapers, 1996-2005,” American Journal of Public Health, April 2010.
- Helen Epstein, “Ghetto Miasma: Enough to Make You Sick?” New York Times, Oct. 12, 2003.
- Tanya M. Spruill, “Chronic Psychosocial Stress and Hypertension,” Current Hypertension Reports, February 2010.
- “Pollution, Poverty, People of Color Series,” Environmental Health News, days 1 and 3.
Perform a scholarly literature review around a particular issue in this general area of public health and diverse communities. Use Journalist’s Resource, Google Scholar, PubMed and the Social Science Research Network (SSRN). Compile a bibliography and write out a one-page pitch for a health or education story that is informed by the scholarly literature.
Week 11: Education
Class 1: Disparities in education outcomes
The readings present several policies, practices and perceptions that may underlie disparities in educational outcomes. What story ideas and reporting strategies do they suggest?
- Sean Reardon, “The Widening Academic Achievement Gap between the Rich and the Poor,” Community Investments, summer 2012.
- Paul C. Gorski, “Perceiving the Problem of Poverty and Schooling: Deconstructing the Class Stereotypes that Mis-Shape Education Practice and Policy,” Equity & Excellence in Education, May 2012.
- Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, chapter 29, “At the Elite Colleges”; and chapter 115, “Look Out, Kid, It’s Something You Did”
- Russell J. Skiba, et al. “Race Is Not Neutral: A National Investigation of African American and Latino Disproportionality in School Discipline,” School Psychology Review, 2011.
- “Education And Disadvantaged Children: Research Roundup,” Journalist’s Resource, November 2012.
Class 2: Race, education and public policy
In American post-World War II political debate, few issues have been more central than race in schools. The legal and policy dimensions of the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision continue to play out, and to be modified and revisited.
- Lawrence D. Bobo, “We Need a New Vision for the Brown Decision,” The Root, May 16, 2013.
- Chief Justice John Roberts, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1, majority opinion, U.S. Supreme Court, June 28, 2007.
- “School Segregation, Race and America’s Future: Recent Research,” Journalist’s Resource, Sept. 30, 2013
- “Affirmative Action in University Admissions: Research Roundup,” Journalist’s Resource, June 24, 2013.
- Select a study from “School Segregation, Race and America’s Future,” the Journalist’s Resource article above. Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead or nut graph based on the study but informed by the new information.
- Listen to the oral arguments in the 2007 Supreme Court case Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1. Write a news story as if you were covering this event at the Supreme Court.
Week 12: Criminal justice
Class 1: Crime, community and policing
According to Jeremy Travis, president of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, “the journey toward racial justice in our criminal justice system has been made immensely more difficult by our high rates of incarceration, the growth of community supervision and intrusive policing strategies.” Consider Travis’s 2008 speech in the context of the findings of the 2013 study by Thomas J. Miles in American Law and Economics Review. Discuss story ideas or projects that would help audiences understand the debates over community justice and the underlying trends.
- Jeremy Travis, “Race, Crime and Justice: A Fresh Look at Old Questions,” New York City Bar Association, March 19, 2008.
- “Children of Re-Entry,” New America Media, 2013.
- Thomas J. Miles, “Do ‘Community Prosecution’ Strategies Work? Chicago’s Experience, and the Quest to Reduce Crime and Incarceration Rates,” American Law and Economics Review, August 2013.
Class 2: Policy intersections in criminal justice
Select an idea suggested for exploration by the Delgado and Stefancic reading, and spend 60 minutes researching the topic. Write a reporting plan and nut graf for a story based on your findings.
- Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, “Critical Race Theory and Criminal Justice,” Humanity & Society, May/August 2007.
- P.A. Goff et al., “Not Yet Human: Implicit Knowledge, Historical Dehumanization and Contemporary Consequences,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2008.
- Film: Hate Crimes in the Heartland, 2014.
Health or education story (800 words).
Week 13: Government
Class 1: National immigration policy
Each year the prospects for immigration reform in the United States seem to rise, only to fall short in Congress for a variety of political reasons. The issue of how many millions of people might be more fully integrated into American society, or “brought out of the shadows,” as some advocates put it, remains perhaps America’s most complicated new diversity issue.
- Sonia Nozario, “Enrique’s Journey,” Los Angeles Times, 2003.
- John R. Logan and Richard N. Turner, “Hispanics in the United States: Not Only Mexicans,” Brown University, March 2013.
- George J. Borjas, “The Slowdown in the Economic Assimilation of Immigrants: Aging and Cohort Effects Revisited Again,” National Bureau of Economic Research, June 2013.
- Ben Tarris, “How Two Violent Crimes Eclipsed the Facts About Illegal Immigration for One House Member,” National Journal, Jan. 29, 2013.
Familiarize yourself with the work of the Pew Hispanic Center and the National Journal’s “The Next America” project. Write a blog about a finding or story from each site that you think deserves wider attention and might help inform more intelligent public discourse about immigration reform.
Class 2: Residential segregation
The ways in which race, class and ethnicity are reflected in communities is frequently a function of regional and local government policies — from zoning to tax policy, from transportation to infrastructure — as well as national demographic trends that are always shifting.
- Mount Holly Amicus Press Release and Amicus Brief, Oct. 30, 2012.
- Richard Fry and Paul Taylor, “The Rise of Residential Segregation by Income,” Pew Research Center, 2012.
- Peter Ganong and Daniel Shoag, “Why Has Regional Income Convergence in the U.S. Stopped?” Harvard University, July 2012.
- Bethany Y. Li, et al., “Chinatown Then and Now: Gentrification in New York, Boston and Philadelphia,” Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, 2013.
- Edward Glaeser and Jacob Vigdor, “The End of the Segregated Century: Racial Separation in America’s Neighborhoods, 1890-2010,” Manhattan Institute, January 2012.
- Daniel T. Lichter, et al. “Residential Segregation in New Hispanic Destinations: Cities, Suburbs and Rural Communities Compared,” Social Science Research, 2010.
Final 1,200-word story.
A special thanks to Sally Lehrman, Senior Fellow in Journalism Ethics at Santa Clara University, for help in writing this syllabus.
We welcome feedback. Please contact us here.