Will Work For Impact: Fundamentals of Investigative Journalism (Summer 2020)


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Will Work For Impact: Fundamentals of Investigative Journalism (Summer 2020)

A seminar for reporters with ambition to do investigative journalism that functions as an important part of democracy.


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This online group seminar will help you build an investigation, from the seed of an idea to a powerful execution.

Investigative reporting can seem daunting. By definition, it involves uncovering a problem someone would prefer to keep secret. It requires critical thinking, persistence, courage and optimism. It can be lonely work.

The good news is, there’s a roadmap you can follow. Over the course of four weeks, award-winning investigative journalist Alexandra Zayas will break down the process to help you think about what kinds of stories to choose, how to build a bulletproof case and how to maximize the chance your work will create change.


Live video sessions

Tuesdays, Aug. 4, 11 and 25 and Sept. 1 at 2 p.m. Eastern

*If you’re unable to attend a live session, there will be a recording available.

Week 1: Choosing the right story, and the right frame, by answering an essential question: What’s the harm?

Week 2: Sniffing the ground and eating the stuff. Creative approaches to reporting beyond public records.

Week 3: Putting it all together. Using your findings to build a spine, and the narrative gems in your notebook to give your story heart.

Week 4: Planning for impact. Strategies to help your investigation make a difference.

Course learning outcomes

  1. How to select the right story by asking the right questions before you start
  2. How to access information that isn’t available to the public
  3. How to utilize the power of human reporting
  4. How to construct an investigative story around findings to make a powerful case
  5. Strategies you can employ, before and after publication, to help your story make a difference

Who should take this course

Reporters and editors of any level who want to spend time reading, thinking about and talking about successful investigative journalism, and learn from real-world scenarios to give their own work an edge.


Alexandra Zayas navigates complicated, potentially contentious stories every day as a senior editor at ProPublica. She edited part of a series about MS-13 that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing and has overseen high-impact work on immigration, international aid and social services. She spent 12 years at the Tampa Bay Times, ultimately serving as the newspaper’s enterprise editor. As a reporter, her investigation into abuse at unlicensed religious children’s homes across Florida won the 2013 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting, the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting.

About online group seminars

In an online group seminar, you will gather with other participants in a virtual space, logging in from anywhere, day or night, over the course of several weeks. A faculty member guides the group through new material, moderates discussions and provides individual feedback.

Time estimate

The content of this course unfolds over several weeks. There are few scheduled live meeting times. Except for several live discussions, you’ll be able to learn on a schedule that works for you. The minimum time commitment each week is three to four hours.


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