IMA Number: IMA 78060/MEDP 372 | 3 credits

Course Type: Production

Professor: Andrea Bernstein

This class meets WED 6:10-8:55pm in Roosevelt House - Rm: 204

Full Course Description:

Course Description: Uncovering Power In New York.

Forty years ago, a real estate developer in New York, through guile and carefully cultivated political connections, managed to convince state officials to create a special law so he could get a toehold in Manhattan real estate.  Through public subsidies, favorable tax rules, and generous gifts of public infrastructure, the developer was able to amass a real estate empire, and eventually, to become President of the United States.


The developer, of course, is Donald J. Trump.


In this course, we will learn how to investigate how that process happens, today: how power really changes hands in New York City, who wins, and who loses. We’ll investigate recent land deals, including those that made possible the development of the new Yankees Stadium and Barclays Center. And we’ll ask: what did the developers get from the city?  What promises did they make to the community in exchange?  Did they keep the promises?  Who won? Who lost?


This course was created to honor Jack Newfield, a journalist who displayed a singular combination of moral courage, unyielding dedication and superior investigative skills to his decades of work in the Village Voice, the Daily News, the New York Post and several books.


Whether it was taking on corrupt politicians, exposing dirty boxing promoters, hunting absentee landlords, hammering shady nursing home magnates or pursuing the deeper issues of anti-Semitism and racism, Newfield applied the same approach: He let no obstacle prevent him from amassing the arsenal of facts he needed to tell his readers a truth they otherwise would not have known.


Through reading, watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, and most of all, gathering documents, interviewing sources, attending public meetings, reporting and writing, the students who take this course will have a rigorous introduction in the sources, methods, and practices of investigative reporting in the tradition of Jack Newfield.  And we’ll then apply those techniques to produce a publishable multi-platform narrative investigation on major land deals that affect life in New York City today.


This course will demand close and careful reading of texts and original documents, shoe-leather reporting, creativity, and a dose of moxie. Like all great investigative reporting projects, the rewards will be commensurate with the effort.




Selected Course Readings:


Selected chapters from Wayne Barrett’s Trump, The Deals and the Downfall

Selected chapters from Jack Newfield & Wayne Barrett’s City for Sale

Selected chapters from Robert Caro’s The Power Broker


Nicole Hannah-Jones “Living Apart: How the Government Betrayed a Landmark Civil Rights Case”

ProPublica “The Rent Racket”

Jim Dwyer, selected columns


Selected Film Viewings:


Battle for Brooklyn



Selected Podcasts/Audio


Nicole Hannah-Jones: “The Problem We All Live With”

Jim O’Grady “Yankees Parking Garages Driven to the Brink of Financial Collapse”

Andrea Bernstein “Bridgegate Fall Guy Was Inside Man”

Andrea Bernstein “No Limits Contributions Boost Cuomo”

Robert Lewis “NYPD Inc.”

Permissions: Cleared with IMA Program Assistant