Fall 2023 Special Topic: Reporting from the Margins
In this course, we’ll study, report and write stories that are told from uncommon, unlikely and surprising perspectives. In many cases, the stories we consume are told from “the center” of an event; in this class, we’ll look at ways that reporters engage with subjects whose perspectives the public might not recognize as relevant, or central, or obviously meaningful to a story.
One example: in November 1963, following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the reporter Jimmy Breslin, in an attempt to capture the gravity of the president’s death, spent the morning with 43-year-old Clifton Pollard. Why Pollard? Pollard was not Kennedy’s best friend; he was not the president’s policy advisor, nor was he central in any way to Kennedy’s public image. The reason Breslin chose to prioritize Pollard’s voice was simple: Pollard, as an employee of Arlington National Cemetery, was the last person to serve the president—by digging his grave, for his usual hourly rate of $3.01 per hour.
How does engaging with such subjects—offering their voices, and prioritizing their perspectives and experiences--change our understanding of the stories we tell? How does it shape the way we present the meaning of an event? How does it challenge us as reporters to center the experience of people might not be seen as an “important” or “central” part of public discourse?
Interested students should contact the instructor, Prof. Jaed Coffin, to reserve a seat: https://cola.unh.edu/person/jaed-coffin
General English majors may take ENGL 721 for Capstone credit if all stated pre-reqs have been met and it is not taken to satisfy other major requirement areas. Pick up a Capstone Declaration Form in the main English office (HS 230F) if interested.