Marek Fuchs

Ellen Kingsley Hirschfeld Chair in Writing

BA, Drew University. Executive Director of The Investigative Journalism and Justice Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. “County Lines” columnist for The New York Times for six years and also wrote columns for The Wall Street Journal's “Marketwatch” and for Yahoo!. Author of A Cold-Blooded Business, a book called “riveting” by Kirkus Reviews. His most recent book, Local Heroes, also earned widespread praise, including from ABC News, which called it "elegant…graceful…lively and wonderful." Recipient of numerous awards and named the best journalism critic in the nation by Talking Biz website at The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Regularly speaks on business and journalism issues at venues ranging from annual meetings of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers to PBS and National Public Radio. When not writing or teaching, he serves as a volunteer firefighter. SLC, 2010–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Writing

First-Year Studies: Is Journalism What We Think It Is?

Open , FYS—Year

This class will both investigate journalism as a social, cultural, and historical phenomenon and employ journalism as a practice by which to encounter the world. We will immerse ourselves in journalism’s intricacies and complexities, its strengths and faults, and come to understand it not only as a working trade and history’s first draft but also as a literary art in its own right—one with as many deep imperatives and as rich a tradition as poetry or fiction. We will survey the best (and a little bit of the worst) of short- and long-form journalism and, over the course of the year, craft everything from brief profiles to ambitious investigative pieces. How does a writer know which details to highlight and which to subordinate? What is the nature of good interviewing technique? How does one interview a willing source as opposed to a resistant one? When should one write concisely, and when is it appropriate to expatiate? What are the ways in which a journalist interacts with—and runs the danger of contaminating—his or her subject? We will ask and answer these and many other questions and spend significant time puzzling out the ways in which fundamental journalistic practice leaps from print to television to new media. Prominent journalists will be invited to talk to us and tell us what they do. Readings will range from H. L. Mencken, George Orwell, Janet Malcolm, Joseph Mitchell, and Truman Capote to Joseph Roth.

Faculty

Wrongfully Accused

Open , Seminar—Spring

Long-form investigative journalism has opened many doors, perhaps most literally in America’s penal system where journalists have regularly revealed—and freed—the wrongfully convicted. This class will set out to expose the innocence (or confirm the guilt) of a man or woman convicted of a controversial murder or other serious felony. Working collectively and using all of the tools and traditions of investigative journalism, the class will attempt to pull out all known and unknown threads of the story to reveal the truth. Was our subject wrongfully accused? Or are his or her claims of innocence an attempt to game the system? The class will interview police, prosecutors, and witnesses, as well as the friends and family of the victim and of the accused. The case file will be examined in depth. A long-form investigative piece will be produced, complete with multimedia accompaniment.

Faculty

Previous Courses

Writing About Others

Open , Seminar—Year

A writer's central and essential challenge is to create work that resonates with others, but the themes and threads of our own lives do not automatically captivate readers. Even beyond the questionable resonance of self, looking within offers a limited store of writing ideas. Searching outward—where the writer meets the world and the world, the writer—offers that writerly requisite: a limited store of ideas. But as writers, how do we perform the imperative act of moving beyond self? Where do we look, and how do we know when we find worthwhile subject matter—topics with the minimum requirement of intricacy and complexity? Moreover, once we hone in on a suitable idea, how do we know whether it lends itself to modest treatment or a work of considerable range and ambition? We will write work of limited and complex scope. For guidance, inspiration, and cautionary tales, we will read and discuss works of writing from James Baldwin, Barbara Ehrenreich, Truman Capote, Calvin Trillin, and others.

Faculty

The Yonkers Beat: Covering Politics, Race, and Economics in a Struggling Urban Outpost

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course is part of the Intensive Semester in Yonkers program and is no longer open for interviews and registration. Interviews for the program take place in the previous spring semester.

Yonkers has long been known as the city on the hill where nothing is on the level. Racial strife—in court and out on the streets—as well as a public school system standing on the lip of insolvency, political corruption, and a rotating series of revitalization plans have been part and parcel of life in Yonkers. Media outlets that used to cover this intrigue and these troubles have suffered financial reversals of their own and have mostly pulled out. Working collectively, students in this class will step into the void, creating their own publication to cover the often gritty reality that is Yonkers.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

Made of Mettle

Made of Mettle

When creative and performing arts bring students, faculty, and alumni together with prison inmates and parolees, collaboration provides common ground.

Read the article by Marek Fuchs