Investigative Reporting (CCJN 3365) Spring 2012 2-3:20 pm/TTh/Umphrey Lee Bldg., Rm.


³For nothing is lost, nothing is ever lost. There is always the clue, the canceled check, the smear of lipstick, the footprint in the canna bed, the condom on the park path, the twitch in the old wound, the baby shoes dipped in bronze, the taint in the blood stream. And all times are one time, and all those dead in the past never lived before our definition gives them life, and out of the shadow their eyes implore us. That is what all of us historical researchers believe. And we love truth.´ -- Robert Penn Warren, All the King¶s Men

³In a society that is more connected than ever, investigative journalists that were once shrouded in mystery are now taking advantage of their online community relationships to help scour documents and uncover potential wrongs « in many respects, social media is enabling watchdog journalism to prosper.´ -- Vadim Lavrusik, Instructors: Jake Batsell Office: #282C, Umphrey Lee Phone: (214) 768-1915 Email: Office Hours: 11 a.m.-noon, T/Th/Fri. Course blog: Twitter hashtag: #j3365 Course Objectives and Requirements: * Students will demonstrate knowledge regarding some of this country¶s best investigative reporters. To meet this objective, you must be prepared at each class to discuss the work of these reporters and their impact. * Students will show they possess the skills needed to produce quality investigative stories for multiple platforms. To meet this objective, you must produce two enterprise stories that are solidly researched and well-written, while also empowering readers to experience the story in at least one multimedia format. * Students will demonstrate competence in data-driven and social media reporting methods using online tools such as Google Fusion Tables, Twitter and Storify. Craig Flournoy #211, Umphrey Lee (214) 768-3395 1-2:30 pm, Monday & Wednesday.

2 Course description: The purpose of this course is to teach you how to do stories that can make a difference²how to find them, report them, write them, and empower your readers to dig even deeper by using online tools. You will learn by doing investigative pieces. This is the technical or ³how-to´ part of this course. This course also will acquaint you with some of this country¶s best investigative reporters. You will see how an unlikely collection of characters²a novelist, a biologist, an oil trader-turned-investigative reporter, students at a nondescript Texas college, reporters at a small North Carolina newspaper²wrote killer stories that exposed injustice and brought about reform. You also will keep your finger on the pulse of the best investigative journalism produced worldwide this semester by regularly monitoring the Twitter hashtag #muckreads. These elements are the content part of this course. An essential part of investigative reporting cannot be taught²passion for your subject. This is entirely up to you. If you don¶t care about something, we strongly suggest you get out of this course. By the same token, if you are interested in preserving the status quo, this course has nothing to offer you. By its very nature, investigative reporting involves challenging the status quo on behalf of the little guy²comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. It is not about attending meetings or covering speeches. It is about doing the story that no one else will do. Required Texts: * Muckraking! The Journalism that Changed America, Judith & William Serrin, editors. * Chapter 9: Collecting and Using Data, from Producing Online News: Digital Skills, Stronger Stories, by Ryan Thornburg. $4.25 for full chapter and online module. * Online readings will be specified on the course blog. Required Online Accounts: * Twitter (public), Google Docs, Scribd, Storify. Class Policies and Procedures The following policies have been adopted by the Division of Journalism. By enrolling in this class you are agreeing to the following terms and conditions. Attendance: We take roll every day. If you miss the first day of class, we may drop you. If you have more than three unexcused absences, we may drop you or give you an ³F.´ You are responsible for contacting us within 24 hours of an absence. We will consider the absence unexcused unless you provide a doctor's note or other valid reason such as participation in a SMU-sponsored activity or observance of certain religious holidays. The SMU Health Center¶s policy on giving forms for excused absences can be found at SMUpolicy. There is a PDF file you can download and submit to us for consideration of an excused absence. This form must be filled out fully for us to consider your absence as excused. If you consult a physician for an illness and receive specific certification for a recovery time, absences will be excused if we are given a form from the physician¶s office. Turn off cell phones and pagers before class. The SMU honor code governs course work.

3 Deadlines: Cast in stone. If you fail to meet a deadline, you will get one letter grade off for each day the assignment is late. After four days, an automatic F. If you have an excused absence, you must turn in the assignment at the next class. Grading: Based on three stories, an oral presentation, and a participation grade. Investigative piece #1 30% (Draft 1=10%; Draft 2=15%; Multimedia element=5%) Investigative piece #2 (Draft 1=10%; Draft 2=15%; Multimedia element=5%) Profile of investigative journalist (Profile=10%; Oral presentation=5%; Storify=5%) 30%


Participation 20% (Includes attendance, readings, homework, guest speakers, weekly #muckreads voting and presentation, class data assignment) The first two stories will be investigative pieces. You may work with a partner. You are to submit a first and a second draft. After submitting your second draft, you have 48 hours to submit a multimedia element such as a Web video package, interactive graphic or ³How I Got the Story´ recap on Storify. Each of you also will write a profile of an investigative journalist. It will count for 10 percent of your grade. You also will make an oral presentation about this person and provide a Storify recap of your journalist¶s career highlights. Grading Scale: 93-100=A 80-82=B67-69=D+ 90-92=A77-79=C+ 63-66=D 87-89=B+ 73-76=C 60-62=D83-86=B 70-72=CBelow 60=F Additional grading information: As are awarded for excellent work. Very good work receives a B; average work a C; below average a D (per university regulations). We will be happy to discuss your work with you. A formal process is available to protest a grade. Story Preparation: Submit an electronic copy of your first draft with your name, the course name and a ³slug´ (a one- or two-word title that identifies the piece) single-spaced in the upper left-hand corner. Put your nut graph just below this. Failure to do this will cost you three points. Double-space the story. Number each page. Submit an electronic copy of your second draft. Submit a hard copy of the second draft with the first draft attached. Failure to do this will cost you three points. Sourcing: We require multiple sources on each reporting assignment. You also must provide attribution for the information in your story so we know where you got it. To help us fact-check stories, you must turn in a list with each source¶s name and phone number (or email address). For paper and online sources, include a general reference in

4 your copy (³according to an online journalism Web site´) and a more detailed explanation in your list ( Failure to do this will cost you three points. You are required to use at least five hyperlinks in your stories as a way of citing online sources. At least two of these links must be primary documents. Participation Grade: Your grade will be based on these areas: Do you come to class regularly? Are you on time? Have you read the assigned readings? Do you do a satisfactory job on the brief written homework assignments? Do you participate in class discussions? Do you ask questions of guest speakers? During class, do not use computers to surf the Web, check e-mail or log on to Facebook for reasons unrelated to class. If you do, it will lower your participation grade. #muckreads: Make a habit of monitoring the Twitter hashtag #muckreads, an ongoing collection of watchdog reporting curated by ProPublica. Every Sunday by 7 p.m., visit and nominate your #MuckRead of the week. We¶ll begin each Tuesday class with a 10-minute discussion of the weekly winner, led by an opening synopsis/presentation by a member of the class. When preparing your #muckreads presentation, consider the following questions: 1) What¶s the upshot of the story? 2) What impact is it having? 3) Does the story empower readers with online tools to dig deeper? If so, how? The objective of the #muckreads assignment is to inspire you by highlighting current examples of watchdog reporting. Your weekly #muckreads votes and your opening presentation will factor into your class participation grade. Plagiarism & Fabrication: Plagiarism is stealing someone's words or ideas and passing them off as your own. Fabrication is making stuff up. Both strike at the heart of the journalistic process, where proper attribution and fact checking are paramount. If you plagiarize an assignment or fabricate information in this class, you will fail that assignment. In addition, I will refer the matter to the SMU Honors Council. Disability Accommodations: Students needing academic accommodations for a disability must first contact Rebecca Marin, the coordinator of services for students with disabilities (214-768-4557) to establish eligibility for accommodations. Then schedule an appointment with one of us. (See University Policy No. 2.4.) Excused Absences for University Extracurricular Activities: Students participating in an officially sanctioned, scheduled University extracurricular activity will be given the opportunity to make up class assignments. It is the responsibility of the student to make arrangements with the instructor prior to any missed scheduled examination or other missed assignment for making up the work. (University Undergraduate Catalogue) Religious Observance: Religiously observant students wishing to be absent on holidays that require missing class should notify me in writing at the beginning of the semester. We will discuss ways of making up any work missed. (See University Policy No. 1.9.)

5 Class Schedule This schedule may change during the semester. Any changes will be discussed in class. Week 1²Finding stories. 1. Tues., Jan. 17 Course introduction. Syllabus review. Homework: Come up with one or two story ideas and be prepared to discuss at next class. Read the Introduction to Muckraking and the Introduction to Homestead by William Serrin. Be prepared to discuss the following questions. Write an answer to one and post as a comment on the course blog by 9 pm Wed., Jan. 18. a. In Homestead, Serrin said that after several years as the labor reporter for the New York Times, he concluded he had done a poor job. Why? b. What is Serrin¶s main point in his Introduction to Homestead? c. In the Introduction to Muckraking, William and Judith Serrin challenge one of the central standards of contemporary journalism²objectivity. They say all good reporters have agendas. Do you agree or disagree? Why? d. What is the central point in their Introduction to Muckraking? 2. Thurs., Jan. 19 Discuss story ideas. Discuss readings. First story assignment distributed in class. First draft due Thurs., Feb. 9. Homework: Write a summary of your proposed story. Include the thesis or nut graph (aka the most important thing). Also include a list of sources (paper, electronic and human). Upload your work to Google docs by 9 p.m. Mon., Jan. 23. Bring a copy to the next class. Read Nate Blakeslee¶s ³An Isolated Incident´ in Texas Monthly (Feb. 2009). What is the main point of the story? Blakeslee focuses on Tom Stiles²why? What does the story suggest about how SMU deals with controversy? Be prepared to discuss. Week 2²Asking the right question. 3. Tues., Jan. 24 Discuss story ideas. Discuss reading. Batsell on boiling your investigation down to a single question and the ³ethic of the link.´ Homework: Read Charles Russell on convict leasing in Georgia in 1908 (pp. 343-346); William Shepherd on the Triangle fire in New York in 1911 (pp. 29-31); John Steinbeck on migrant families in California in 1936 (pp. 9-12); and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the Centralia mine disaster in Illinois in 1947 (pp. 37-39). What do these stories have in common? How do the authors use detail and description to make their stories more powerful? Be prepared to discuss. Also, provide a story update. 4. Thurs., Jan. 26 Discuss readings. Homework: Read Vadim Lavrusik, ³How Investigative Journalism is Prospering in the Age of Social Media´; Mercedes Bunz, ³How Investigative Reporting Makes Use of the Internet´; Talking Points Memo, ³TPM Needs YOU to Comb Through Thousands of Pages´; The Guardian, ³Investigate Your MP¶s Expenses´; Texas Tribune government salaries.


Week 3²Crowdsourcing, Transparency and Investigative Reporting as a Process 5. Tues., Jan. 31 Discuss readings. Discuss your stories. Homework: Work on your story. Bring an electronic draft to the next class. 6. Thurs., Feb. 2 Work on preliminary draft of your story in class. Homework: Our class has the opportunity to join The Texas Tribune and other journalism students for the 2012 Light of Day Project, a statewide investigative collaboration that will examine the finances of college athletics at Texas universities. For Tuesday¶s class, all students must read SMU j-student Steve Thompson¶s 2010 story, ³$93 Million and Counting´; Taylor Branch¶s ³The Shame of College Sports´ from The Atlantic; and the Newsday article ³NCAA Talks Realignment, Paying Athletes´. If you are interested in taking part in the Light of Day Project, please also read two writers¶ ideas on how to reform the system -- Joe Nocera in the New York Times Magazine, ³Let¶s Start Paying College Athletes,´ and George Dohrmann in Sports Illustrated, ³Pay For Play.´ Week 4²³What the hell has happened to college sports?´ (Dec.16, 2011 banner headline in the print edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education) 7. Tues., Feb. 7 Discuss reading. When it comes to college athletics, what are some investigative angles that would interest SMU readers and/or a general college audience? Homework: Complete first draft of story. It¶s due before the next class. Also read J-Lab press release, ³Storify Wins $10,000 Knight-Batten Award.´ 8. Thurs., Feb. 9 Turn in first draft of your story. Discuss reading. Class exercise on using Storify as a tool for journalistic curation and transparency. Homework: Readings on beat-based investigations. Read American Journalism Review, ³Slow to React´; Watch ³Breaking the Penn State Scandal´ on CNN¶s Reliable Sources; Read Nicholas Kristof, ³Fighting Back, One Brothel Raid at a Time´; Watch PBS NewsHour segment ³Reporters Win Pulitzer for Exposing µCorruption on Steroids¶ in Bell, Calif.´ Week 5²Beat-based investigations; Guest speaker Emily Ramshaw 9. Tues., Feb. 14 Discuss readings. First draft of your story returned in class. Second draft is due Thurs., Feb. 23. Homework: Read investigative articles by Emily Ramshaw, editor of The Texas Tribune and a guest speaker at our next class. Ask a question. 10. Thurs., Feb. 16 Guest lecture by Emily Ramshaw. Homework: Read selections from two series of stories in the Dallas Morning News, ³Separate and Unequal´ and ³Rewarding Neglect.´


Week 6²The value of local muckraking/Rachel Carson 11. Tues., Feb. 21 One series was awarded a Pulitzer Prize, the other is the work I am proudest of. Homework: Complete second draft of your story and turn in at next class. Read selection from Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (Muckraking, pp 252-254). At the next class, we will watch a documentary (57 mins) about Carson and Silent Spring. After watching the film, explain what most surprises you about Carson. 12. Thurs., Feb. 23 Turn in second draft of story. Second investigative assignment will be distributed. First draft due Tues., March 27. Watch Rachel Carson¶s Silent Spring. Discuss film. Homework: Come up with a story idea and be prepared to discuss at the next class. Read George W. Smalley on Antietam in 1862 (Muckraking, pp. 269-280); Edward R. Murrow on the German blitz of London in 1940 (pp. 281-283); Seymour Hersh in 1969 on the My Lai massacre in Vietnam (pp. 288-293); and Dana Priest and Anne Hull in 2007 on the ill-treatment of Iraq War veterans. What differences do you see in the war coverage of Smalley and Murrow versus that of Hersh and Priest/Hull? What lesson do you find in the work of Priest and Hull? Type up a brief answer to each question and hand in at next class.

Week 7²³In war, truth is the first casualty.´ --Aeschylus 13. Tues., Feb. 28 Second draft of your story returned. Discuss story ideas. Discuss reading. Homework: Write a summary of your proposed story including nut graph and sources. Upload your work to Google docs by 9 pm Wed., Feb. 29. Bring a copy to the next class. Also, read Mark Dowie¶s 1977 piece on cars with exploding gas tanks (pp.66-70); Jonathan Neumann & Bill Marimow¶s 1977 story on tortured confessions (pp. 360-363); Eileen Welsome¶s 1993 account of humans as atomic guinea pigs (pp. 76-79); and Houston station KHOU¶s 2000 report on Firestone¶s killer tires (pp. 79-82).What do the stories have in common? What changes did they bring about? 14. Thurs., March 1 Discuss story proposals. Discuss reading. Homework: Read Sam Houston State University rape stories. What strikes you about the stories? This was not a planned series. How did the students decide what to do next? Week 8-³Don¶t expect much of these students. They couldn¶t get into UT or A&M.´ -- Dr. Bobby K. Marks, president of Sam Houston State University, April 15, 1997 15. Tues., March 6 Hicks? Absolutely. Kickass reporting. That too. The pure f . . . ing joy of college students whose work made a difference. Homework: Work on your story. Bring an electronic draft to the next class.

8 16. Thurs., March 8 Work on preliminary draft of your story in class. Homework: Nada.

Spring Break Mon., March 12 ± Fri., March 16

Week 9²Mapping, Data-Driven Journalism and Other Digital Tools 17. Tues., March 20 In-class mapping and data exercises. Google Forms. Using hashtags and ³Open Facebook´ searches as investigative tools. Homework: Read Chapter 9: Collecting and Using Data, from Producing Online News: Digital Skills, Stronger Stories, by Ryan Thornburg. 18. Thurs., March 22 Discuss readings. More class data exercises. Homework: Complete first draft of story²due at next class. View stories by Mark Smith, an investigative producer for Channel 8 (WFAA) in Dallas and our guest speaker at the next class. Ask a question.

Week 10²Mark Smith/Nellie Bly/Katherine Boo ³A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." --Ghandi 19. Tues., March 27 Turn in first draft of second story. Guest lecture by Mark Smith. Homework: Read Nellie Bly on life in a NYC lunatic asylum in 1887 (pp. 142-146) and Katherine Boo on life in a Washington, DC home for the mentally retarded in 1999. How would you compare the two reporters? What do you find surprising in their work? Be prepared to discuss. 20. Thurs., March 29 Discuss reading. Homework: First draft of story returned. Second draft due Thurs., April 5. Read ³The 30-Year Secret´ by Nigel Jaquiss. What is this story about? What is unusual about the story? About the author? Week 11²Who the hell is Nigel Jaquiss and what does he know about investigative reporting? 21. Tues., April 3 Discuss reading. Homework: Complete second draft of your story and turn in at next class.


22. Thurs., April 5 Turn in second draft of your story. Third writing project explained²a profile of an investigative reporter. Each of you will do an oral presentation, written profile and Storify recap of your reporter. Homework: Write a brief description of who you will be profiling. Bring three copies to the next class. Week 12² Investigative History 23. Tues., April 10 Second draft of your story returned. Students discuss who they will be profiling. Homework: Work on your profile. Get in touch with the person you plan to profile and arrange an interview. Read selections from the Winston-Salem Journal¶s Against their Will series: ³Lifting the curtain on a shameful era´ (Part one main story) ³Records unexpectedly available´ (Part one sidebar) ³All aboard: newspapers jumped on sterilization bandwagon´ (Part three sidebar) ³Wicked silence: state board targeted blacks but few cared´ (Part four main story) What is this series about? Why is it unusual? 24. Thurs., April 12 Discuss reading. Homework: Work on your profile. Bring an electronic draft to the next class. Week 13²Profiles in kicking ass 25. Tues., April 17 Work on preliminary draft of your profile in class. Homework: Finish oral presentation. Or else. 26. Thurs., April 19 Oral presentations, part I. Homework: Finish written profile and Storify recap. Week 14²What was the most important thing you learned in this class? 27. Tues., April 24 Oral presentations, part II. Homework: Deadline time, baby. 28. Thurs., April 26 Oral presentations, part III. Adios

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