July 17, 2013 | Borough of Manhattan Community College
Liberal Arts major Diva Green wanted to enroll in a specific course at BMCC so badly, she recalls, “I stalked the class online for days until there was an opening, and I immediately registered.”
What was this course Green wanted so urgently to take? Professor Andrew Levy’s Journalism 303 English course Journalism: News Writing, a thorough, in-depth look at reporting in today’s fast-paced, media-savvy world.
Since journalism is not a direct major at BMCC, the course attracts those who have a nose for news.
I ask a lot of questions about everything and anything—I’m always asking, ‘Why? How?’” said Green. “So, I knew I had to take this course. Plus, I enjoy research.”
Levy, a professional journalist and poet, leads lively discussions about media concerns and matters. His students learn how to “cite references within the body of an article, review the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) code of ethics, and write—and edit—news articles that are publishable.”
Additionally, last semester, students watched the 2007 documentary No End in Sight about the Iraqi War. “As a class, we discussed the ethical principals from SPJ to determine if director Charles Ferguson upheld those ethical standards,” said Levy, who also brought in guest speakers such as a foreign correspondent from the Los Angeles Times.
“These speakers work in different media genres and remind students there are many jobs or career paths that exist in this field they may not even know about,” explains Levy.
The class trip
Last semester, Levy took approximately 20 journalism students on a tour of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, which was led by Stephen Dougherty, Assistant Dean, Director of Admissions and Student Affairs, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
Dougherty is the former Editor-in-Chief of Businessweek and a friend of Levy’s.
“The students are blown away by the facility, they had no idea it existed,” said Levy. “After hearing from Doughtery, oftentimes, many of them are further convinced this field is something they want to pursue.”
Doughtery informed them that they do need a Bachelor’s degree in journalism to attend the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, adding, “This is a great place for those who want to study what they love. In 16 months, you’re learning the latest ways to report and conduct journalism and you’ll leave with a professional degree. You’ll be out in the field doing internships and stories, and many students here even intern in other countries.”
He also says the Graduate Center had its own university news service, editing studio, and radio station, and there are some end-of-semester days set aside for de-stressing when students need a fun break here and there.
“What you learn here is real world,” said Doughtery to Levy’s students as they walked through the editing studios and classrooms. “The work is relentless and it’s about the work, not any politics behind the work. Everyone is supportive of each other.”
Calling the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism “distinctive,” Doughtery also informed students that BMCC students may be eligible for summer journalism writing and audio workshops at the Graduate School.
Student Gil Vazquez is an aspiring filmmaker who enjoyed the tour.
“It was great hearing that this Graduate Center teaches you how to market yourself and how to put together a portfolio,” he said. “I want to raise social awareness about environmental issues as a documentary filmmaker, and I could see myself at the Graduate Center someday.”
His classmate, English major Andrew Chandler, views BMCC as his starting-off point to a career in journalism.
“I found Journalism: News Writing to be very informative and hands-on. Professor Levy is easy to talk to and gave me some great advice about overcoming writers block.”
Adds Chandler: “I have my own tech blog and have been published before in a local paper and in The Huffington Post. I definitely want to pursue journalism after I graduate from BMCC.”