In the last decade, dozens of stories have been produced out of the Investigative Reporting Program on subjects including the practices of the credit card industry, the sexual harassment and rape of female farmworkers and janitorial workers in the U.S., and a post 9/11 terror prosecution in California. The most successful and most honored of our projects was the 2003 investigation of worker safety in the iron foundry industry. “A Dangerous Business” which appeared as both a print series and a documentary--the only winner of the Pulitzer Prize to also be acknowledged with every major award in broadcasting.
Projects produced by the program have appeared on such national television programs as PBS' Frontline, Frontline/WORLD and the NewsHour as well as ABC's Nightline, CBS’ Evening News and 60 Minutes II. In print, stories for which students were the primary authors or contributors have appeared in the pages of The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle as well as a wide variety of magazines and international and local newspapers.
Projects in which the students' roles were acknowledged and credited have received the Pulitzer Prize, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award, Gerald Loeb Award, Peabody Award, National Press Club Award, George Polk award, the Sidney Hillman Award, Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) award, the Bart Richards Award for Media Criticism, and the Columbia Online Journalism Award.
The IRP’s classes emphasize the history and role of investigative reporting as well as the skills and techniques needed to do it. Instruction focuses on developing sources, conducting research and interviews, using public records, the legal issues surrounding confidentiality and other issues.
In 2007, in response to cutbacks at major news organizations, the IRP established the country’s first postgraduate fellowships in investigative reporting. This yearlong program is without peer at any academic institution. It is designed to enable select journalists with a proven ability to tell complex stories in the public interest to pursue stories for up to one-year, providing them with salary, benefits and editorial guidance.
Symposium and Professional Workshops
Since 2007, the IRP has hosted a “by invitation only” symposium each spring in honor of the Reva and David Logan Foundation, which endowed the program. The only symposium of its kind in the country, it routinely brings together a veritable “who’s who” of top journalists, law enforcement and government officials to address the critical issues confronting this specialized field. Starting in 2017, the IRP began offering biannual workshops to elevate the journalistic standards of independent filmmakers, increase the impact of their stories and help them break new ground.
The Investigative Reporting Program has its own endowed building across the street from the Graduate School of Journalism at 2481 Hearst Ave.
To learn more about the Investigative Reporting Program, please visit its website.
What does it take to produce great investigative journalism? The aim of this course is to answer this question by exploring methods and strategies for conceiving, reporting, writing and fact checking investigative narratives. What are the ingredients to look for when considering story ideas? Where does the reporting start? How do you go about identifying and developing sources? How do you get people to talk? How and when do you engage with the subjects of your investigation? How do you protect whistleblowers? How do you gather, organize and manage documents and notes? How do you carry the factual and psychological burdens that come with investigative reporting? How do you begin converting a mountain of reporting into concise, compelling story telling? How do you make sure your work can withstand the toughest scrutiny? How do you construct a story to convey authority and credibility?
My aim is to give students a thorough grounding in the entire investigative process through a series of lectures and discussions, supplemented by assigned readings. Over the course of this class, students will be asked to produce a fully developed story pitch for an investigative project of their choosing. The pitch will consist of a memo that covers the central hypothesis and importance of the story concept, a summary of what’s already known about the subject, a breakdown of the most pressing questions to attack first, a detailed rundown of possible public records requests, a comprehensive list of possible sources, a detailed discussion of the policy context behind the story idea, and a proposal on what is the best method for telling this story. Course grade will be based on class attendance and participation (40 percent) and the pitch memo (60 percent).
This class is both an introduction to the theory and practice of investigative reporting, as well as an opportunity for students to gain practical experience working collaboratively on a major in-depth reporting project. The seminar is both a place for students to be exposed to potential sources and practitioners of the craft as well as a venue to discuss and debate what we mean by “investigative reporting.”
Application deadline: December 2nd at 8:59 pm PST
Application available September.