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Investigative Journalism for the Digital Age

Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas via Independent

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Overview

This course was planned as a training program for journalists, but it is open to anyone who has an interest in learning about the basics of investigative reporting. You don’t need any previous experience with the concepts, tools or resources of investigative journalism. Just bring your enthusiasm to learn from some of the best trainers in this field of journalism in the United States! 

This course cover topics such as:

  • How to identify human sources for an investigation
  • How to interview and how to cultivate sources
  • How to follow a document trail
  • How to use data for an investigation
  • How to verify information
  • How to present a convincing investigative story 

Syllabus

Module 1:  THE BASIC STEPS IN DOING AN INVESTIGATIVE STORY

  • How to conceive of and carry out an investigation
  • Examples of good investigative stories large and small
  • What is a people trail?
  • What is a document trail?

Module 2: THE PEOPLE TRAIL

  • Understanding institutional structures to identify sources
  • Understanding what kind of humans sources you will deal with
  • The art of cultivation of sources
  • The art of the interview
  • Verifying sources and content found on social media

Module 3: THE DATA TRAIL

  • Finding the right databases for a story
  • Basic analytical techniques
  • Visualizing data

Module 4: THE DOCUMENT TRAIL

  • Identifying documents you need
  • Following the leads that one document provides to another
  • Making sense of the documents through cross-referencing
  • Dovetailing documents with interviews

Module 5: PRESENTING THE INVESTIGATIVE STORY

  • Deciding on the best story you have and how to tell it
  • Ethical considerations and fairness
  • Line by line accuracy of the story
  • Checking and verifying the integrity of data
  • Preparing for and dealing with responses, compIaints and tips on new investigations

Taught by

Lise Olsen, Mike Berens, Brant Houston and Stephen Doig

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