Below are links and descriptions to syllabi from various investigative journalism courses (In alphabetical order of university, then professor’s name).
Allegheny College, Investigative Reporting, Caley Cook
This course will teach you the practical skills and ethical principles of investigative reporting. We will learn the fundamentals of investigation: choosing subjects, identifying sources, conducting research and interviews and organizing large amounts of material in an interesting and fair way. While we will focus on learning practical skills, you should also develop a better understanding of the history and application of the First Amendment and the role of the investigative journalist in American society, culture and politics. By the end of this course you should: * Understand how and where to access important investigative documents including property records, court records, search warrants and police reports * Be able to use interviewing skills to obtain sensitive information * Endeavor to organize large amounts of information into a coherent news narrative * Comprehend the First Amendment and how it applies to investigative journalists * Have the ability to write an investigative piece through your own research
Ball State University, Investigative Reporting and Writing, Gerry Lanosga
The goal of this course is to ground you in the heritage, tools and techniques of investigative and in-depth reporting. You will learn the practical skills of the investigative journalist both by studying professional investigative work and by doing your own work – both individually and as a class – using tools you will learn, including public records laws and computer-assisted reporting. This semester we will be working in tandem with students at five other universities on a six-state pilot project to report and publish a broad-based student investigative project. Over the course of the project you will learn to conduct intensive backgrounding work using public records, to cultivate sources, to find and analyze data, and finally to produce a multi-platform investigative story in a compelling and understandable way.
Boston College, Prof. Stephen Kurkjian, Investigative Journalism Critical Thinking
Whether your interest lies in the human interest story, breaking news, the exposé or in honing your critical thinking and writing skills, this course offers the practical skills necessary for mastering journalistic form, drawing on credible sources, reporting the facts, and sharpening your inquiry and interpretive skills. It also introduces students to the sources for public information including city and town halls, State House, court houses and regulatory agencies on both state and federal levels of government. Class will review the critical role that investigative reporting plays in in democratic societies. Students read, analyze and critique investigative journalism using Pulitzer Prize Feature Stories.
Michigan State University School of Journalism, Jim Detjen, Knight Chair in Journalism, Advanced Environmental Reporting
The purpose of this course is to teach students how to effectively report and write articles for the news media about environmental issues. The final goal of the course is to publish an in-depth newspaper or magazine article. Among the topics to be discussed are: 1) an historical overview of environmental journalism; 2) some of the key federal environmental laws and important local, state, national and global environmental issues; 3) examples of excellent (and some not-so-excellent) environmental reporting; 4) the use of the federal Freedom of Information Act and government records; 5) how to translate scientific jargon, use numbers and evaluate environmental risks; 6) how to cover environmental emergencies; 7) the use of computer-assisted reporting techniques in environmental journalism; and 8) ethical debates such as the issue of advocacy vs. objective reporting.; and 9) a review of some of the fundamentals of ecology and environmental literacy.
NYU: Joe Calderone, Investigative Reporting
Be you a blogger, a Tweeter, a UTuber, an aspiring TV talking head, print journalist or some combination thereof, a knowledge of how to ‘go deep’ on a story will make you better at what you do – and a more valuable commodity in any media environment. This course will seek to give you some of the skills necessary to produce exclusive, hard-edged, original, ground-breaking reporting that matters.
NYU: Prof. Alyssa Katz, Investigations in Depth
Students will complete a three-part investigative series during the course of the semester, each focusing on an un- or under-examined issue affecting residents of the New York region. All of these projects will be reportable at least in part through the use of public records. In the course of the semester, students will master the use of public documents including government contracts, financial filings, property records, statistical data, environmental reports, legislation and related documents, campaign contributions, and court files.
NYU: Prof. Mike McIntire, Business Journalism Investigative Reporting
Your objective will be to master basic investigative tools and techniques, as well as how to apply them to everyday reporting and major enterprise pieces. We will explore how to take advantage of the two main sources of information – documents and people – and discuss when and how to use computer data to both enhance a story or provide the foundation for a major project. Throughout the course, the goal will be to constantly delve beneath the surface. Going deep is the essence of investigative reporting, which pulls together all publicly available information, as well as harder-to-find material, to present the fullest possible picture. Corporations and powerful individuals employ armies of PR experts, lawyers and lobbyists to ensure that only their version of reality prevails, and it is the lonely duty of journalists to dispel this fog of self-interest.
Penn State University, Dr. Peter Kareithi, Advanced Reporting
This is an advanced course in tools and techniques of contemporary in-depth reporting. It is a hands-on course designed to reflect the professional newsroom. Students learn sophisticated investigation and narration techniques and practice working both as individual reporters and as part of a team in the newsroom. The first part of the course emphasizes strategies for gathering and analyzing information, and developing background. This is designed to introduce students to some of the research and analysis techniques used in in-depth reporting and investigative journalism. The second part emphasizes competence in the different narration techniques used in in-depth news writing and reporting.
Southern Illinois University Carbondale, William Freivogel, Advanced Public Policy Reporting
The purpose of this course is to teach advanced public policy reporting skills to journalists. Students will learn new reporting and investigative skills and will combine to produce an investigative reporting project worthy of publication or broadcast.
Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Eileen Waldron, Investigative Reporting for Electronic Media
This course is designed to expose students to the best investigative journalism today in all media: TV, Radio, Print and Online. We will have special presentations from award winning investigative reporters and experts in the field of criminal justice, the environment and media law. I will also show some of my own award winning investigative work from my 20 year career in TV news and discuss techniques and strategies in investigative reporting. Finally you will learn about the history of investigative reporting and how it sets the stage for, and will be changed by, the WikiLeaks controversy today.
UCLA Extension Journalism Department, Fred Mamoun, Investigative Reporting Techniques
This course serves as an invaluable tool for journalists, attorneys, business people and others who need to know how to get bottom-line information. Instruction presents the fundamentals of investigative journalism as well as practical experience in investigative research and writing; methods of gaining access to public and private record sources and techniques for gathering information about people, businesses, institutions and government.
University of Illinois Urbnana-Champaign, Brant Houston, Investigative Reporting
This course will show you how to do investigative and in-depth reporting with a special emphasis on using digital tools and electronic information. It will teach you how to go beyond the day-to-day journalism and how to bring context to your stories. It will teach you how to improve your credibility and accuracy by effectively searching the Web and downloading databases and documents, reading and analyzing those documents and databases, by interviewing people more effectively, and by getting out into the field and observing and recording what you see. You will use primary and secondary sources – people sources, paper sources, electronic documents and databases, both online and offline. You will learn how to organize your material and then write a compelling story that covers not only the “who, what, when and where,” but also the “why” and the “how.” After taking this course, you should be capable of doing better research and analysis than most practicing journalists. This course is intended to be extremely practical while at the same time causing you to think deeply about the stories you do and why you do those stories. This course will also deal with the daily ethical questions investigative journalists face.
University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Prof. Steve Fox, Investigative Journalism and the Web
In this hands-on class you will learn the tools and techniques of in-depth investigative reporting. Students will work both as an individual and as part of a reporting team. We will use advanced reporting methods, including interviewing, Freedom of Information requests, database searches and other techniques. This class will analyze and pursue answers to questions related to the South Hadley bullying case and the death of former South Hadley high school student Phoebe Prince. Students will gain practical knowledge in researching, reporting and writing news articles, analysis and narratives. Classes will run much like a newsroom operation.
University of Missouri, Associate Professor, David Herzog, Computer-Assisted Reporting
Computer-assisted reporting (CAR) refers to the analysis of public records that are stored electronically instead of on paper. Think of it as an extension of traditional investigative reporting, with its emphasis on using public documents. This is largely a skills course with a heavy hands-on component. By successfully completing this course, you will be able to identify, obtain, evaluate, clean and analyze computerized records. You will be expected to think like a journalist by evaluating information critically and applying what you learn to news stories, information graphics or web applications. You’ll learn how to use software tools, such as spreadsheets, database managers, text editors and data-cleaning programs.
University of North Carolina Pembroke, Dr. Anthony Curtis, Investigative Journalism
This capstone experience for journalism students is an advanced course in tools and techniques of contemporary in-depth reporting. It is a hands-on course reflecting the values and experiences of the contemporary professional newsroom. You will be exposed to sophisticated investigation techniques and you will practice working both as an individual reporter and as part of a newsgathering team. This course emphasizes: ▪ Strategies for gathering and analyzing information, and developing background. You will be introduced to the research and analysis techniques of in-depth research and reporting, and investigative journalism. ▪ Competence in the different narration techniques used in in-depth news writing and reporting.
These links offer further resources:
Society of Professional Journalists – syllabi for environmental journalism classes http://www.sej.org/textbooks-and-syllabi
Webjournalist.org – Collection of tools and technology for journalists http://webjournalist.org/topics/tools/
IRE Syllabi – Computer assisted, online research, and investigative reporting syllabi. http://www.ire.org/education/syllabi.html