Beats and topics

The most important part of this class is learning how to develop expertise, fairly quickly, about a given topic or area. This could be a beat like a traditional newspaper or a more general topic or trend in society. You will be asked for a first, second, and third choice of topics, from the following list:

  • Downtown Athens. How people make their money–and their identity–in a broadly-defined region bounded by Thomas Street/East Campus, Milledge Avenue (including Five Points), and Prince Avenue/Dougherty Street.
  • Education in Athens. Athens schools are under enormous pressure from a number of factors, including growth and demographic change, declining state funding, federal mandates to raise test scores, and, as always, the county’s tremendous poverty. Local organizations, the university, and the state all are involved in initiatives to improve education here. What’s working, what isn’t, and what has potential?
  • A sports team. Whether it’s a club or varsity team at UGA or a local high school or a private organization, sports provide some of the best narratives in journalism. Writing about an organized activity would enable you to present the story lines, victories, and defeats of a season to the world.
  • Health and wellness. While not organized as competitions, like sports, personal wellness is a very big industry, and again, there’s a narrative theme: people trying to improve themselves and their lives. Take your readers inside these stories and where they take place.
  • Sustainability. Recycling, reducing energy use, and bicycling are all aspects of sustainability, but people across campus are engaged in operational and research works to reduce UGA’s environmental footprint. This is an opportunity to explore the changes people are making or want to make, and the costs and benefits of such changes, to your audience.
  • Politics. A political issue or a bill being considered by the Georgia General Assembly. This is up to you to find an issue you find interesting.
  • A topic of your own choosing, which you’ll need to discuss with me in some depth the first week of class.

I will assign you to your topic to create some diversity in coverage areas, but will honor your choices to the greatest extent possible. You will be part of a team covering your topic, but not in the sense that the team will turn in any work together. Instead, you’ll share ideas, help each other brainstorm, and support each other as we go through the semester.

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