David L. Lindauer Spring 2008 econ 335 Economic Journalism

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David L. Lindauer Spring 2008

ECON 335

Economic Journalism

I. Requirements

  1. Prerequisites: Students must have completed Econ 201, 202 and 203.

  1. Economic Journalism will be conducted in a workshop format. It is scheduled to meet regularly on Wednesday afternoons, 2:15 - 4:45. Attendance at these meetings is required. It is essential that students make a sincere effort to attend all classes.

  1. Each student will be expected to complete six (maybe seven) written assignments due, roughly, every other week. On those weeks when a student does not have an assignment due (i.e., when she is not acting as a "Reporter"), she will serve as an "Editor" on another student's news story. Each student also will be expected to submit Rewrites of her assignments. Assignments will range in length, roughly, from 750 to 1500 words.

  1. The Schedule of assignments from S’08 appears below.

  1. Grading will be based on the quality of written assignments, editorial work and classroom participation. The emphasis on evaluating student work, first, will be on its economic content and, second, on the quality of its exposition.

  1. There are no examinations in Economic Journalism. A portfolio of the semester’s work is due on the last day of classes.

II. Course Mechanics

  1. Students enrolled in Economic Journalism will be randomly assigned to one of two groups, Groups A and B. Throughout the semester, each group will serve on alternate weeks as either Reporters or Editors. Editing assignments will rotate weekly enabling each student in Group A (B) to serve as an Editor to a student in Group B (A). Two assignments, the OPED and Interview, will not follow this format. In these cases, students will submit articles with a joint by-line.

  1. Class meetings will be devoted to analyzing student articles. It is essential that the following system is adhered to. Each week's Reporters must file their stories in Econ 335’s FirstClass Conference by 5:00 pm on the Monday prior to the class meeting devoted to their assignment. Penalties will be imposed on late or missing work.

  1. Editors will be assigned to Reporters at least one week in advance of a story's deadline. Reporters must submit a draft of their article to their Editors prior to the Monday deadline. The Reporter must leave time to rewrite her news story in response to the Editor's comments. A "marked-up" draft (I recommend using Word’s track changes feature) of the Reporter's story should be submitted to me by the story’s Reporter.

  1. Each student must read and be prepared to discuss all stories written for every class session. Each student should come to class with a list of substantive comments or questions concerning the economic arguments raised in each submission. Class discussion will be organized around your comments on the economic content of your classmates’ articles.

  1. Economic Journalism's system of Reporters, Editors and classroom review of student articles can only work if each individual acts in a responsible manner. Reporters must write the first draft of their stories in time for their Editors to be able to review them. Editors must return stories in a timely manner enabling their Reporters to rewrite their drafts. Reporters must file their final stories in time for the rest of the class to carefully review them prior to class meetings. All class members must read all assigned material and allocate time between Monday at 5:00 pm and Wednesday at 2:15 pm to read, take notes and formulate specific questions about the contributions of other class members. Finally, all students must be willing to engage actively in discussion during class meetings. The success of Economic Journalism depends upon the class' interdependence and, hence, on each student's commitment to making the course a worthwhile experience.

III. Readings

  1. Economic Journalism does not have a traditional Reading List or a required textbook. Specific assignments often are tied to particular readings. These readings will be available off of the internet or will be provided in class. Options for purchasing the two books we will review will be discussed in class. Students are expected to make use of their macro, micro and econometrics texts from previous courses. Course assignments may relate to material in development, international, labor, public and other applied fields of economics.

  1. Throughout the semester, students are encouraged to read economic reporting by reading coverage of economic news, for example, in The Economist, New York Times and Wall Street Journal. The “Economic Focus” in The Economist and “Economic Scene” and “Economic View” features in the New York Times, respectively, illustrate excellent economic reporting and analysis. Articles from The Economist, New York Times and Wall Street Journal can be accessed from the Wellesley College Library homepage.



FINAL SCHEDULE – Spring 2008






Jan 28



Listen to State Of the Union Address; 9 pm


Jan 30


Introduction to Econ 335, Economic Journalism;

Reporting on the State of the Union Address


Feb 6


Official Report: Bureau of Labor Statistics,

The Employment Situation: January 2008 (release date:

Feb. 1); http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf


Feb 13


Official Report: GAO (Government Accounting Office), “Long-Term Fiscal Challenge: Additional Transparency and Controls Are Needed,” Testimony of David M. Walker, Comptroller General; http://www.gao.gov/special.pubs/longterm/d071144t.pdf


Feb 20


Journal Article: Quarterly Journal of Economics (May 2001), John Donohue and Steven Levitt, “The impact of legalized abortion on crime”


Feb 27


Journal Article: Journal of Economic Perspectives (Fall 2006), Claudia Goldin, Lawrence Katz and Ilyana Kuziemko,

“The Homecoming of American College Women”


March 5


Plenary and Viewing of Nicholas Stern Lecture,

“The Economics of Climate Change”



March 12


Covering an Economic Lecture: Nicholas Stern


March 19


Book Review: Lant Pritchett, Let Their People Come



March 26


Spring Break


March 31



Goldman Lecture, Wellesley College, 8 pm, PNW 212:

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, "U.S. Policy Challenges."


April 2


OPED (Joint By-Line)


April 9


Covering an Economic Lecture: Douglas Holtz-Eakin


April 16


OPED (Joint By-Line)


April 23


Book Review: Paul Collier, The Bottom Billion


April 30


NO CLASS, Ruhlman Conference


May 7


Interview with Academic Economist (Joint By-Line);

Economic Journalism Portfolio Due

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