Next week: Long live long form!

A bunch of interesting stuff will happen in class next week: First of all, Rhonda Prast and Jan Colbert from the magazine faculty will be with you on Tuesday to talk about the IPad as a designers’ dream come true and for exciting, long-form stories. If you have an IPad, consider bringing it to class.

Thursday, as I mentioned in class earlier this week, free-lance journalist Petra Bartosiewicz, who wrote an article in the August Harper’s called “To Catch a Terrorist,” will be in class. Professor emeritus George Kennedy will moderate the discussion. The Harper’s piece is long, but you are sure to admire the depth and authority of the reporting and writing.

I’m not sure that there is a journalist in the United States who knows more than Bartosiewicz about the FBI’s methods for catching terrorists — some of which are sure to give you pause. As you read the Harper’s piece, think about some of what Mark Horvit had to say about the investigative reporter’s methods.

Go to Ragtag on Wednesday night and watch “Better This World,” if you want a great warm-up for Thursday’s discussion. (I’m not going to lie to you: This film made me angry.) Petra and the film’s co-director will be on hand after the showing of the film, along with an MU law professor, to talk about it and answer questions.

It’s going to be a fascinating week. I’m going to be at another conference — this time in Minneapolis — so I have to miss it. But I hope you all will blog like crazy about it.

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2 Responses to Next week: Long live long form!

  1. keliza13 says:

    I saw “Better This World” at True/False last year, and actually wrote a piece on it for the Maneater. It showed as “Secret Screening Black” (here’s my review: http://move.themaneater.com/blogs/move-m/2011/3/6/secret-screening-black-provokes-ethical-debate/ ). The documentary is the story of two Austin, Texas boys who go to protest at the 2008 Republican Convention with startling consequences. I agree totally with Katherine on this one: it made me angry, and from the reaction of the audience when I saw it, it made them angry, too. “Better This World” is one of those movies that’ll change you, I guarantee it.

  2. Kip Hill says:

    I admire Bartosiewicz’s ability to take what is a wide-arching and convoluted story with several threads, present it succinctly through the experiences of Aref and Hossain, and still scare me out of my wits. I mean, “preventive measures” to stop terrorism on U.S. soil sounds like a wonderful strategy in theory, but when you start examining the nefarious individuals brought in to incite “potential terror activity” you start to wonder what kind of deals the FBI is making, and whether those deals are in the best interests of the general public. The Bush administration loved to laud their record of not allowing another terrorist attack on U.S. soil following 9/11, but they sure as hell didn’t point out that this was the way they were doing it, or if indeed attacks would have occurred without this policy of preventive law enforcement. I don’t mean to get partisan here, I’m certain the same kinds of operations are occurring under Obama’s auspices. An important function of journalism has always been to take the “official” record presented by those in power (Mark Horvit talked about numbers last week, but narratives told by public officials are just as susceptible to spin) and ask how explanatory it is. This piece is an excellent example of a long line of work pursuing that function.

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