This is a distinctly practical course aimed at engaging students into a journalistic research and investigation project whose end-result will be an in-depth report that will be published on the online platforms of the Center for Media, Data & Society (CMDS) and shared with the media organizations with which the center is partnering across the world.Some of them are expected to republish parts of the report or the entire work. For example, the work of the class in the 2020-2021 academic year was published by Politico.
The project will also explore the potential for policy recommendations related to the topic covered by the project.
The course will introduce students to the basics of investigative journalism, focusing on research and data gathering techniques. It will also offer an introduction to journalistic writing and discuss some of the key ethical considerations that journalists should keep in mind when they do their work.
In the first session of the course, key concepts and rules about journalism and journalistic research will be introduced and discussed. Students are encouraged to consult the recommended list of readings and resources throughout the entire duration of course, particularly those that are directly relevant for the work that will be carried out as part of the class.
The remaining sessions in the course will be organized as practical workshops where the team of students will present and discuss data and information collected for use in the final report. This final report will be drafted collectively by students under the editorial supervision of the professor.
The final, edited report will be published at a date agreed during the last sessions of the course. Those last three-four sessions will be used mostly to identify gaps in reporting and polish the final report. The work carried out during the class will be used to generate other media products, be they podcasts, short videos, short interviews, or other forms of content that will be made public along the main piece.
Although during some parts of the course, students will work individually on collecting data and information or on drafting parts of the report, the course requires team work, collaboration and constant exchanges of information. The final report will bear the byline of all participating students and professor.
By having this journalism experience, students will familiarize themselves with some of the key techniques and rules used in producing journalistic output. The course is by no means designed to prepare students for a career in journalism, but rather to stimulate their critical thinking, spur their intellectual and creative curiosity and encourage them to engage in incisive writing and analysis.
On a more general level, the course will give students an understanding of the practicalities behind the journalistic investigation from the stage of topic selection to the publication phase when the journalistic report enters the public domain. This understanding can be useful for students planning to make a career in organizations that use journalism in their work (human rights organizations, think tanks, risks assessment companies, etc.) or in fields that engage with journalists on a regular basis (policymaking and government, academia, technology, etc.).
Presence and active participation in collecting the data and information needed to complete the report (50%)
Presence and active participation in drafting and reviewing the final report (50%)