June 22nd, 2013 | University

Woodward says he plans to teach immersive reporting

Award-winning journalist Bob Woodward ’65 is returning to his alma mater to teach a seminar this coming academic year.

Woodward will run the spring section of “Journalism,” an intensive journalistic workshop offered in the English Department each spring and fall. Woodward said he hopes to teach his students about the intensive and immersive reporting method he developed throughout his prolific journalistic career.

“I think that even in the era of impatience and speed, which defines the news media now, that there is a place for ['total immersive journalism,']” Woodward said. “I’m going to try to share 40 years of experience.”

With his colleague Carl Bernstein, Woodward drew national acclaim for conducting much of the original reporting on the Watergate Scandal in the 1970s. Woodward was also the Post’s principal reporter covering the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and he now serves as an associate editor at the newspaper.

Woodward said he thinks journalism is “the best job in the world,” adding that he hopes to equip his students with the tools necessary for tackling challenging questions persistently and thoroughly.

“Most jobs deal with the routine, but with journalism, by definition, you are dealing with the non-routine,” Woodward said. “When you go into the newsroom of the Washington Post, in the morning, the questions are, ‘What’s going on?’ ‘What don’t we know?’ ‘How can we advance this story?’”

Steven Brill ’72 LAW ’75, who teaches “Journalism” in the fall term and was involved in bringing Woodward to Yale, said he has discussed the syllabus and selection process for the seminar with Woodward. Brill said that for his session of the course, he solicits writing samples and a statement of interest from students. Each year, he said he has around 80 applicants for his fall seminar, from which he selects 15. Brill added that he anticipates Woodward will receive even more applications in the spring.

Though the tentative English Department course listing says that students who have taken the journalism seminar in prior semesters can still receive credit for taking Woodward’s section, Brill said the list is incorrect, and that only students who have not taken “Journalism” will be eligible to receive credit for the course. English Department Director of Undergraduate Studies John Rogers did not respond to request for comment.

Brill added that Woodward’s presence on campus will benefit the Yale Journalism Initiative, which was launched in 2006 with a grant from Brill and his wife. The initiative aims to encourage Yale students interested in pursuing journalism as a career, as the University does not offer a journalism major.

“This allows the Journalism Initiative to continue to do great things,” Brill said. “This helps us expand the offerings.”

Mark Schoofs ’85, who taught the seminar last spring, will teach a more specialized journalism seminar in the spring, Brill said.