CHICAGO – Alex Kotlowitz sat at the head of the room, a hand on his broad forehead, another holding a pen poised over a student paper. Around him sat the 19 undergraduates at Northwestern University who had registered for his class, "The Journalism of Empathy." He's been teaching this at the Medill School of Journalism for about two decades. He's not a jokey sort of instructor; he's not a professor who indulges long digressions or small talk about what everyone did last weekend. He takes his seat, and the class takes theirs, silently.