I retired in the Spring of 2019, but my best teaching experience was running Mission Local, as a local site and lab where students learned how to be reporters. Journalism students never had better hands-on training. Not only did it teach students how to cover the news and be responsible to a community, Mission Local also gave UC Berkeley a useful role to play in the community – providing solid reporting, opening its doors to residents and giving a more human face to the university.
That experiment ended at Berkeley in 2014 when a new dean decided that J200 – our core course for incoming students – should be taught differently. Mission Local, however, survived and became independent. It continues to train young journalists.
My equally favorite teaching happened in the international travel courses, which I initiated in the Spring of 1991. That semester I drove with 16 students to Tijuana. For 12 days our reporting team swarmed over the city; we shared a two-bedroom apartment and spent less than $1500 for the trip. The experience launched an annual international reporting course; I’ve continued to teach some of the classes, others have been taught by UC faculty or visiting journalists from other countries. The program has also generated an in-house magazine, stories for various media, websites and a book.
My last bit of international travel was running the India Reporting Project, which invites an Indian journalist to spend a semester at Berkeley and prepare students for a reporting trip in India. Geeta Anand, the school’s current dean, came out of that project, and it continues to be part of Berkeley’s curriculum as do other international reporting classes.
As for my own teaching, it was always a work in progress. Each new crop of students exposed the fault lines in my well-laid plans. Not a year went by that I didn’t change and improve my syllabus.
I’ve linked below a general outline for my basic Reporting and Writing Course. And because others wanting to take students abroad have asked for advice, I’ve also attached a memo I wrote some time ago on what I learned teaching international reporting.