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Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media

Journalism in the Classroom Hero

Estlow Center for International Journalism and New Media

Journalism in the Classroom

DU's journalism courses embody the vision of Ed Estlow and the Estlow Center in their dedication to ethics, advocacy, and the continual development of new media. Journalism students apply classroom learning in a variety of personal, professional and creative projects throughout the year, demonstrating their communication proficiency in many different ways.

Beyond the classroom, our students shine in their own rights, making significant contributions to the world at large.

Cannabis Journalism

Andrew Matranga shows a student something on a computer screenThe conversation surrounding cannabis in American culture is evolving every day, and the reporting is changing with the times. This course in the University of Denver's Media, Film and Journalism Studies Department seeks to engage students with the reporting on America's New Normal. Offered as a special topic class during DU's interterms, this course meets for a week in the fall, winter, spring and summer sessions. The class period features industry experts as guest speakers and a immersive training in multimedia reporting and production.

With Colorado serving as the petri dish of the marijuana legalization experiment, DU's department of Media, Film and Journalism Studies (MFJS) became the first to offer a course solely devoted to cannabis journalism, during summer interterm 2015. Throughout the course, led by MFJS assistant teaching professor Andrew Matranga, students covered "America's new normal" and examined the legalization of marijuana ­ both medical and recreational ­ in Colorado and across the country.

The legalization of recreational marijuana by Colorado voters in 2012 signaled a historic change that fuels the legal debate across the country. "This historic crossroads provides an opportunity
for student journalists to dig into all the medical and legal issues that legalization poses," said Matranga.

Students interviewed industry professionals and private citizens and engaged with guest speakers like Jane West, founder of Women Grow, an organization that aims to connect, educate and empower female cannabis industry leaders. The course used Bruce Barcott's book, Weed the People, as a lens to examine cannabis journalism, while The Denver Post's Cannabist outlet provided a local angle.

"Students' research not only investigated the scope of the marijuana legalization movement from a political and practical perspective, but also used original data and multimedia elements to push and promote enterprise storytelling on a national level," said Matranga.

Kevin Bartlett, DU economics major and cannabis journalism student said, "I think that having a more responsible conversation can lead to more open conversations for the rest of the country." 

The class gained local and national attention and now continues to be offered as a special topic class during DU's interterms, meeting for a week in the fall, winter, spring and summer sessions.

To learn more about the course, visit, search #CannabisJournalism or watch the story that aired on CBS4 Denver.

Fact Lab

Fact lab students with professor

Fact Lab is an interdisciplinary course, launched in Fall 2014, which covers relevant topics such as messaging, civic and political issues, logic, rhetoric, and image analysis.

Students adopt a newsroom-style approach to the study and craft of fact-checking political messaging. The goals of the course are to further develop critical thinking, research, and writing skills, and to present highly credible and useful fact checks of the most significant political ads of the 2014 election season.

In-depth analyses of issues important to Colorado will be posted onto a web site and made available to journalists and concerned citizens across the state. This is an opportunity to increase knowledge and influence political conversations among politicians and media throughout Colorado.

Read more about Fact Lab on the Department of Media, Film & Journalism Studies website and in the Denver Post

MFJS Reporter

Students in Professor Christof Demont-Heinrich's Newswriting & Reporting classes write news articles about current events, ultimately building an online newspaper called the MFJS Reporter. Take a look at the most recent publications here:

Online & Visual Journalism

Students in Professor Christof Demont-Heinrich's Online & Visual Journalism Course build an active website as part of the course. The website, produced by journalism students, focuses on all aspects of college life and aims to tell compelling, multimedia stories about college and university life. Read Daily College Life.