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Reporting on Violence

Semester and Year FA 2019
Course Number IDSEM-UG2051
Section 001
Instructor Óscar Martínez, Alejandro Velasco
Days T
Time 3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Units 2
Level U


This 2-unit course meets during the last seven weeks only, First Class: Oct. 29; Last Class: Dec. 10.


In journalism, covering violence spotlights the dangers of the craft: a mistake may bring danger to a source; badly rendering a victimizer may appear as apologia for a crime. And yet, speaking with victims and victimizers are both necessary to report on violence. In this course, by way of analyzing journalistic texts and in conversations with reporters who have covered violence both interpersonal and structural, students will untangle the risks and virtues of working with these sources. The aim: to as much as possible craft guidelines of best practices to follow in reporting heinous acts, whether perpetrated by individuals, by states, or by larger systemic forces. By reading texts like Sala Negra by El Faro from El Salvador, to those of Mexican authors who have covered the world of organized crime, to classics by the likes of Truman Capote and Janet Malcolm, and by hearing directly from journalists like the Frontline's Marcela Gaviria, The New York Times's Boris Munoz, The New Yorker's Francisco Goldman, and NPR/Radio Ambulante's Daniel Alarcon, this course will provide a space to examine and discuss the why and the how of reporting on violence.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)