Category Archives: Classes


Although the lab course numbers remain the same, topics change semester to semester. Check MSU’s schedule of courses for the latest information. The three-credit courses can be taken more than once.
Completion requirements for the graduate 800 level courses are greater than those of the undergraduate 400 level courses.
 
JRN 472/872 Lab Environmental Reporting
This course gives students hands on experience producing environmental news stories. Class-produced stories meeting professional standards are published on the center’s award-winning Great Lakes Echo non-profit news service. Students have analyzed the ecological footprint of Spartan Stadium and the pollution inputs into the Red Cedar River. They have waded in rivers to examine macroinvertebrates, analyzed and mapped data and explored creative reader engagement techniques such as this one modeled after Jaywalking on the Tonight Show or this one that gives clues to polluted sites. Others include the Great Lakes Smackdown and the popular carp bombs. The course offers a great way to pick up clips and experience. Story types vary by student interest and skill but can encompass text, audio, photography, video and creative reader engagement strategies. Topics vary semester to semester and students can take the course more than once and for variable credit.
In the fall of 2013 the course is called News eye in the clear sky. Students will shoot video from an aerial drone while exploring the exciting opportunities and thorny ethical and legal challenges of new ways of perceiving the environment with satellite imagery, drones and other remote sensing techniques. And they will look at some of the newsworthy aspects of the other civilian applications of such technology.
 
JRN 473/873 Seminar in environmental journalism
The course focuses on news media reporting of environmental, scientific and health issues. The seminar is mostly guided by the following question: How can journalists deal with scientific uncertainty and the inherent complexities of environmental and health issues? The discussions cover topics such as: journalists’ role conceptions, journalistic norms, environmental discourses in popular culture, use of expert sources, reporters’ beliefs and perceptions, organizational constraints, and the gap between journalistic and scientific cultures, among others. We discuss historical and current issues where science has played a central role in their media reporting. These issues include, among others: energy, smoking, climate change, ozone layer hole, GMOs, hydraulic fracturing, population growth, and natural disasters.
 
Elsewhere within the School of Journalism
Students are encouraged to explore environmental reporting in the context of other journalism classes such as feature writing, multi-media production, broadcast, Capital News Service and public affairs classes. Instructors of such classes often collaborate with the Knight Center.
 
Elsewhere at MSU
Both graduate and undergraduate students interested in environmental reporting are encouraged to broaden their knowledge of environmental science and policy by exploring related coursework at MSU. This is required of undergraduates seeking an environmental concentration and of masters students pursuing the environmental option.
Among the Knight Center affiliated programs at MSU are the Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment for undergraduates and the university’s Environmental Science and Policy Program for graduate students.
  

 

Discovering how cells talk to each other is key to better diagnosis and treatment of disease

 

Jon Kaletka

By Jon Kaletka

There are countless apps to keep in touch with friends and family throughout the world.

But have you ever wondered how your body’s trillions of individual cells talk to each other?

That’s what I study to improve the diagnosis and treatment of bacterial infections.

Continue reading

Journalism students shine with COVID-19 coverage

By Eric Freedman

While the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc around the globe, our environmental journalism and Capital News Service students are bringing localized news to papers and online news outlets across Michigan and the Great Lakes region.

Our stories address a wide range of topics with impact on our readers — from domestic abuse to police suicides, from online education to expected fall college enrollments, from Great Lakes research to financial insecurity, from telemedicine to public transit, from hunting and fishing to child support payments, from boater safety to women’s shelters.

The Knight Center’s Great Lakes Echo and CNS play an important role as many local and community newspapers struggle due to plummeting ad revenue. One newspaper reports a 90% drop in weekly ad pages.

In Michigan and across the nation, some papers have laid off employees and cut back or eliminated print editions. As their news hole shrinks, the amount of pandemic-related information they can provide their readers dwindles as well.

We help fill that gap. So does Focal Point, the Journalism School’s broadcast news magazine. Those students’ coverage just won a first-award place from the Society of Professional Journalists in the weekly College Coronavirus Coverage competition.

And while news organizations are putting more coronavirus stories and information online, many families still lack broadband internet service for infrastructure, technological and economic regions. Data from Connect Michigan, a nonprofit group advocating for increased internet access, shows nearly 381,000 homes across the state lack broadband service. At the same time, the public libraries that provide local residents with free internet access are closed.

That adversely affects adults who must work at home, job-hunters and children who are supposed to do schoolwork online. Continue reading

Knight Center Senior Associate Director interview about online teaching

Knight Center Senior Associate Director David Poulson was recently interviewed for a story about teaching journalism online. See story here.

The article was produced for the EJ Academy section of the Society of Environmental Journalists’ online newsletter. It interviewed several university instructors about the challenges and opportunities of moving courses online. Michigan State University and most all universities shifted classes online because of the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Poulson has taught online before.  But the pandemic crisis in the middle of the semester required a significant shift for a course that had been designed for a traditional face-to-face environment.

Still, he said the move was relatively seamless and prompted him to adopt successful techniques that he may not have tried without the motivation of a sudden switch in platforms.

One tip: Require students to turn on their own video when using a remote conferencing system like Zoom, he said. They take the class more seriously, pay better attention and are more likely to interact with the instructor and each other.

Knight Center director speaks on corruption

Eric Freedman interview on student TV station at East Kazakhstan State University

Knight Center director Eric Freedman spoke recently at an anti-corruption forum held at East Kazakhstan State University. The forum coincided with his two-week stint as a guest lecturer to journalism and language students at the university in Oskemen, Kazakhstan. 

 

Freedman and MSU Journalism School alum Jim Mitzelfeld won a 1994 Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of a corruption scandal in the Michigan Legislature as reporters in the Detroit News Lansing Bureau.

Here are Freedman’s remarks at the forum:

 

No society is free of corruption, and that is unfortunately true of the United States as well. Speaking as a journalist, a professor and a citizen, I worry about 3 major types of corruption in our society.

  Continue reading