Medill launches specialization in national security journalism

The Medill National Security Journalism Initiative is offering a National Security Journalism Specialization in the school’s Graduate Journalism Program, a unique offering among journalism schools nationwide.

The Specialization gives you the opportunity to develop the skills, knowledge and hands-on reporting expertise needed to excel in covering some of the most crucial stories of our times – those affecting the national security of our country. They range from increased use of drones to patrol U.S. borders and communities around the country and cybersecurity attacks on domestic infrastructure like oil pipelines to the refocusing of the military to the Asia Pacific region and the problems facing today’s veterans.

The National Security Specialization capitalizes on the teaching and training already being done by faculty affiliated with the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative in Evanston, Chicago and Washington as well as existing reporting classes, the Global seminar and a select number of security-related non-Medill classes.

Students who complete the specialization will it have noted upon graduation.

To complete the specialization, students would be required to take 5 units of national security classes. Some are mandatory; for the others, students have a menu from which to choose. That menu will be updated and distributed each quarter.

Here is a typical specialization course plan

2nd Quarter (1 unit)

Required: National security reporting focus within the Business, Urban Issues or Health & Science reporting class. Students coordinate with their instructor to develop a beat with a national security focus, like homeland security as part of a law enforcement beat, or pandemics as part of a health beat, or aviation companies as part of a business beat.

3rd Quarter (1 unit)

One of the following: National security reporting focus within the Advanced Business Reporting, Advanced Public Affairs Reporting or Advanced Health & Science Reporting; U.S. Security and Civil Liberties Reporting; Global Journalism Seminar

4th Quarter (2 units)

Required: Covering Conflicts, Terrorism and National Security (Washington), which includes Hostile Environment Training course, and Washington Politics & Government Reporting (Video or Reporting), with the National Security Beat


4th Quarter Alternative (2 units)

Required: Global Seminar and either U.S. Security and Civil Liberties Reporting or National Security focus in Advanced Reporting (Business, Health or Public Affairs).

(We strongly encourage those intending to participate in the Specialization to choose the Washington 4th Quarter option.)

5th unit – to be taken in 2nd, 3rd or 4th Quarter in addition to other classes

Required: An elective in 2nd or 3rd Quarter from outside of Medill, including PoliSci 490 International Law and International Politics (Fall Quarter); PoliSci 445 International Security (Winter Quarter); PoliSci The Politics of Conflict/Contemporary Africa (Spring Quarter)

Students in the National Security Journalism Specialization will be given priority status as applicants for the 5th Quarter Program in National Security Reporting in Washington. And they can take advantage of the initiative’s relationship with the Roberta Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies and Roderick MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern, the National Strategy Forum in Chicago and the Military Reporters and Editors organization in Washington.

Students who complete the 5 units have the Specialization noted upon graduation.

The Medill National Security Journalism is part of Medill School at Northwestern University. The initiative is funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

If you are interested in this Specialization, please contact:

Ellen Shearer

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