This class focuses on in-depth and investigative reporting, where science and technology meets public policy and society. We will cover essential skills of investigative reporting, including obtaining documents through Public Records Act requests, using online reporting resources, computer-assisted reporting, and ethical and legal issues. After 10 weeks, students will complete an article of ~2000 words, concentrating on an issue of societal/political importance.
An introduction to data-driven journalism, with examples; Basic online resources for science reporters: databases of scientific literature, patents, grants, clinical trials etc.
Discussion with five students to refine your story ideas.
Discuss examples of investigative reports selected by students, studying methods employed.
Tips, tricks and tools for pulling unruly data down from the web: extracting data from web tables, automating bulk downloads of multiple files, and web scraping — without having to write any code. We’ll then use Open Refine to clean and process data — and learn how to save the steps so in future it can be done with one click!
Beyond the spreadsheet: Using databases to interrogate data and find the story. (We will use SQLite and the SQLite Manager add-on for Firefox.)
Data visualization in reporting and storytelling. After a discussion of basic principles, we will put them into practice using Tableau Public.
Guidestar and CitizenAudit.org for researching non-profits; SEC filings and other tools for researching companies. Who sent that email? Who runs this website?
Ben will talk about how the LA Times integrates data journalism into the newsroom. Preceded and followed by individual meetings with Ben to discuss your projects.
After initial edits and Ben’s feedback, a catch-up with five students to make sure everything is on track to deliver the best article possible!
Who sent that email? Who runs this website? Also: The tracks you leave, and how to cover them, if necessary. Setting up encryption, to protect yourself, and your sources, from prying eyes.
Reporting on scientific misconduct and research ethics. Case studies in journalistic ethics. What would you have done?