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Curriculum

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We’re all about storytelling — and there are countless stories to be told that can be discovered with data. At Stanford, you’ll learn how to use data to boost your multimedia reporting to the next level.

What You’ll Learn

Beat Reporting Skills

The front of three trucks.

In News Reporting class, Rachel Oh (MA ‘21) followed the effects of California’s gig economy law. Unlike other news outlets, Oh looked at the impacts of the law on people who fall outside of what people normally see as gig economy workers. Oh spoke with truckerspet sitters, translators and other independent contractors who were impacted by the law.


Data Frame of Mind

data

The Peninsula Press’ Data Hub highlights students' data-driven stories about topics as diverse as vaccination rates to cleantech investment to Airbnb rental regulations.


Multimedia Storytelling

Mandy Barker immersive experience

MA students collaborated with noted British environmental photographer Mandy Barker, using her images to create a virtual reality experience, “Ripple plastic: the unintended life of plastic at sea.” The experience submerges viewers into the sea filled with Barker’s found marine plastic debris items. The project aims to tell the story of the lasting damage of plastics in the environment.


DSLR Videography

road

To achieve a cinematic look, student Nick Salazar produced a mini-documentary with DSLR video about suspended driver’s licenses, staying with the story for several weeks as he followed an individual who regained her license. “Millions of Californians struggle to manage financial burden of suspended driver’s licenses”


Data Negotiation, Scraping, Cleaning and Analysis

towing

Using Excel and SQL data analysis, Farida Jhabvala Romero’s (MA ’15) found sources in data sets and was then able to identify and tell those individuals’ stories, in a report about suspended license crimes in Menlo Park. She also built a data scraper and had to do mapping for analysis. “Driving with suspended license top crime in Menlo Park, many lose cars”


Investigative Reporting Techniques

recycling

Three students in the Spring 2015 investigative reporting course, pushed for data, records and documents when key sources wouldn’t talk to them for an investigative report about the difficulties of hazardous waste regulation in California. “Sims Recycling plant shows difficulties of hazardous waste regulation”


Building a News App

crash map

To illustrate the issue of bike crashes in California, Jeff Barrera (MA ’16) built a searchable data application that shows actual bike crashes on a map. “Bike Crash Mapper”


Localizing a National Story

soccer

Chelsea Janes (MA ’13) — who is now focused on sports reporting at The Washington Post — localized a national story about professional women’s soccer. “No Bay Area team in women’s soccer league”


Feature Storytelling

rodeo

Matt Hansen (MA ’14) shared the story of gay rodeo participants in a character-driven narrative. “For gay competitors, a rodeo to call their own”

 


Software and Platforms You’ll Gain Experience In:

  • Hindenburg Audio Editing
  • GitHub
  • The command line
  • HTML, CSS and Javascript
  • Databases and SQL
  • Python
  • R
  • Advanced spreadsheet techniques
  • Twitter API
  • Tableau
  • ArcGIS Mapping
  • Tabula and data cleaning
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • WordPress CMS
  • Social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

Courses

The Graduate Degree in Journalism requires a minimum of 45 units. In addition to seven required courses, students have to take two specialized writing courses, chosen from a list of eleven, and three approved electives from among graduate-level courses in the Department of Communication or from among courses across campus. We encourage students in the program to take courses outside of the department in everything from statistics to coding to design thinking.

Except for COMM 289P Journalism Master’s Thesis, all courses must be taken for a letter grade. To remain in good academic standing, students must maintain a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better. Graduation requires a GPA of 3.0 or better.

Required Courses

Specialized Reporting Courses (choose at least two)

Electives in the Department of Communication

Electives Across Stanford

For a listing of all active courses at Stanford and their schedules for 2021-2022, go to Explore Courses:

Sample Schedule

Autumn Quarter (sample)

  • COMM 225: Perspectives on American Journalism (4)
  • COMM 273D: Public Affairs Data Journalism I (4)
  • COMM 275 Multimedia Storytelling (3-4)
  • COMM 279: News Reporting + Writing Fundamentals (3-4)

Winter Quarter (sample)

  • COMM 216: Journalism Law (4)
  • COMM 274D: Public Affairs Data Journalism II (4)
  • Specialized Reporting Course
  • Elective Course

Spring Quarter (sample)

  • COMM 289P: Journalism Thesis (4)
  • Specialized Reporting Course
  • Two (2) Elective Courses

Guest Speakers and Events

Working journalists and media industry pros are frequently invited to classes as guests to share their professional expertise and practical insights relevant to the challenges impacting the ever-changing media landscape. Recent guests have included Jill Abramson (former executive editor of The New York Times), Barton Gellman (Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist) and Simon Rogers (data editor at Google). Additionally, there are numerous events across the Stanford campus almost every day that bring prominent technology executives, entrepreneurs and journalists to speak.

The Stanford Journalism Program also has co-hosted conferences that have featured journalists from news organizations like Reuters, NPR, The New York Times, Florida Sun-Sentinel and MuckRock.


Journalism Thesis Project

The Stanford Journalism Program provides a unique opportunity for students to showcase their talents as prospective authors and journalists. Each student will launch an intensive, in-depth inquiry into an area that he or she is personally interested in examining and critiquing at length. The MA Project represents a major commitment of time and effort. While there is no formal publishing requirement, the completed project must be judged by a member of the Journalism faculty to be of a quality acceptable for publication. Successful completion is a precondition for graduation from the program. MA Projects are typically launched during Winter Quarter with a deadline-driven submission date of the last day of class of Spring Quarter.


Student Media and Professional News Partnerships