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Buzz: New York Times Online Courses for Aspiring Writers

by BLH on March 15th, 2012

I’ve received information about an interesting opportunity for writers, bloggers, and editors. If you’re looking for well-regarded classes about improving your writing or blogging, the New York Times online course catalog might be worth a look. Here’s the press release I was given.

Interested in issues related to writing, blogging, and editing? The New York Times Knowledge Network (NYT) has a number of online courses available for aspiring writers, bloggers, and editors of all ages seeking to develop and perfect their craft.

These courses are part of The USC and New York Times Knowledge Network online continuing education program (www.nytimes.com/usc), which offers students tailored, practical programs to enhance their professional paths, and the flexibility of online courses for both working and non-working adults. Courses feature USC faculty, in addition to New York Times journalists.

Don’t Bury the Lede – Feature Writing for High School Students (USC) – February 6-17, 2012 - A feature is really any story that isn’t breaking news. The best way to hook your reader into staying with it is to write a great “lede,” or introductory sentence and paragraph. One of the most famous true-crime books of recent years came out of the lede Miami police-beat reporter Edna Buchanan wrote in a newspaper story: “The corpse had a familiar face.” But we don’t have to be on the crime beat to learn to write compelling features. Features are about people, people you’d like to know. We’ll show you the way to tell their stories in a compelling way.

Recalling Childhood – Writing, Thinking, and Misremembering Our Early Years (USC) – Self-paced course. Register now and begin any time after February 6, 2012. - This course considers what childhood is for various cultures and times, why “the child” serves so many different functions, and why our current culture imagines children (and, while we’re at it, adolescents) as it does. That is, instead of thinking of “the child” as something in nature, a kind of given, we will ask what sort of cultural needs our idea of children serves. To get at this, we’ll read parts of some histories of childhood, some famous short stories, poems, and two classics, PETER PAN and ALICE IN WONDER-LAND. Then we’ll consider the way childhood features in contemporary pop culture: songs, theatre, movies and advertisements. We’ll also discuss how memory works, what we really know about our own childhoods, and how to begin the process of writing about our own early years.

Editing for Everyone (NYT) – February 27 – March 11, 2012 - This course provides an overview of the tools and resources you can use to improve the way you edit your writing or that of others. Editing for Everyone covers some of the techniques used by the copy editors at The New York Times as well as tips on how to identify common mistakes that come across in written material. This course is intended for a wide range of experience levels, from those who have never really thought about “editing” before to those who know it’s important to carefully review what they write, but want to learn more about specific techniques that can make such a review more successful.

Writing A Medical Memoir (NYT) – March 5 – April 1, 2012 - The goal of this four-week course is to help each student write a medical memoir: a polished, 1200-word essay about an experience related to an illness or an injury. Taught by one of The Times’ best and most popular science writers, the course will begin by reading and analyzing four essays chosen to inspire students and to illustrate the best writing techniques. It will then coach students in writing their own essays.

In addition to the daily self-paced lessons, online discussion forums and resources, there will be scheduled live online sessions with the instructor. Live sessions will be archived for future viewing. The instructor will read and comment on two drafts of each student’s essay. Register early to participate. Class size is limited and may be filled well before the start date.

How to Start a Blog (NYT) – March 15 – 28, 2012 - Some people start a blog to amuse family and friends; others want to create a local news and information site for their community. Some want to share opinions on music, books, films or politics. Whatever your reasons, you will receive collegial assistance and fresh ideas from a journalist who helps manage all the nytimes.com blogs. The course will help you fine-tune your concept and make sure it works, find the right design and tone of voice, understand and use the available blogging platforms and tools, get your blog started and learn to manage it at the right pace, add basic audio and visuals, and use social tools to promote and grow your blog.

Journalism Law for Bloggers (NYT) – March 30 – April 29, 2012 - Taught by one of the nation’s top First Amendment and media law experts, who is vice president and assistant general counsel at The New York Times, this course will give you the fundamental legal knowledge every journalist needs. Among the topics covered will be definitions of libel law, standards of proof and how they vary, major cases that have established our libel standards, how U.S. law differs from that in other nations, related legal concepts such as invasion of privacy and intrusion, and access to courts, documents, and other legal proceedings.

In addition to the daily self-paced lessons, online discussion forums and resources, there will be scheduled live online sessions with the instructor. Live sessions will be archived for future viewing.

Ask The Editor – Q&A Session (NYT) – Webcast Dates: March 21, 2012, 4:00 – 5:00 PM ET, April 25, 2012, 4:00 – 5:00 PM ET, June 6, 2012, 4:00 – 5:00 PM ET - In your own writing or in reviewing others’ work, do you encounter grammar or word choice problems? Are there some questions that have always baffled you? Here is your chance to ask an expert. Pose your questions to Don R. Hecker, a 30-year veteran of professional editing who has trained New York Times copy editors as the newsroom’s manager for training and education. No previous editing course or experience is expected.

Writing About Your Roots (NYT) – April 16 – May 6, 2012 - The goal of this course is to help each student write a memorable 1200-word essay about a particular place. Taught by an author and editor who has supervised The City section, a mecca for essays about New York City, and who now writes the Habitats column for The Times, the course will show you the best techniques of evocative nonfiction writing. It will begin with readings of some of the best essays of the genre, then proceed to coaching students in their own writing.

In addition to the daily self-paced lessons, online discussion forums and resources, there will be scheduled live online sessions with the instructor. Live sessions will be archived for future viewing. The instructor will read and comment on two drafts of each student’s essay.

Writing for Everyone (NYT) – April 23 – May 13, 2012 - The goal of this course is to teach the fundamentals of effective nonfiction writing to anyone for whom writing is an important tool for business, college essays, blogs, newsletters or personal work. Taught by an author and editor who has nurtured writers in various sections of The Times, from Business to Home to Metro, and has written a HarperCollins book on the subject, the course will show you the best techniques of evocative nonfiction writing.

In addition to the daily self-paced lessons, online discussion forums and resources (including interactive writing samples for practice), there will be scheduled live online sessions with the instructor. Live sessions will be archived for future viewing.

Creating Video for the Web (NYT) – April 24 – May 7, 2012 - This course will help you learn what you can do well with the equipment and experience you have. You will learn how to set achievable goals for your video project, how to improve the quality of what you shoot, and how and where to publish it. For business people or others who participate in videoconferencing or other video presentations, we can help improve your work without expensive technical solutions. The second week of the course will cover editing and publishing your video. We will talk about the various tools (Mac and PC) available, but more importantly we will teach you the major concepts of editing, so that you can maximize your video project’s potential. Familiarity with a basic (amateur) video camera is assumed.

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2 Comments
  1. mary brady permalink

    Dear BLH–

    Do you or any of your readers know why ‘lede’ is spelled ‘lede?’

    For all these years, I thought my city editor told me not to bury my ‘lead.’

    Thanks for any info. And thanks for the lead on a potential writing course.

    L&K, MaryB

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