Course Fee: £  (inc vat)  
  Course Date and start time:

Investigative Journalism

A 9 week evening course providing an introduction to Investigative Journalism.

The tutor will be Jamie Elliot, a freelance journalist, researcher, media relations consultant and copy writer who also teaches journalism in London and Brighton. Before going freelance in 2000, he worked as a campaigner for charities including VSO, Oxfam and RNID. His current clients include national newspapers (the Guardian & the Observer), magazines and charities.

Week 1

What is investigative journalism?

An explanation of what distinguishes investigative journalism from everyday reporting. We will analyse an investigation undertaken by the tutor and students will be asked to think about how they would approach some real life investigation scenarios.

Week 2

A brief history of investigative journalism

How the Sunday Times insight team and others overturned the deferential style of reporting that preceded the more robust style of journalism developed in the 1960s and 1970s. Think the Profumo affair, the Thalidomide drug scandal and Watergate.

Week 3

Finding stories

The biggest challenge for any journalist - where do you get the big story that will help build your reputation? We look at sources, contacts, tip-offs and research. Students begin to work on ideas for their own investigation to develop throughout the course.

Week 4

Writing news and intros

The principles of investigative news writing are the same as those for all news writing. So we go back to basics and look at how sharp, snappy news stories are structured and written. Students build simple news stories and practise writing engaging introductory paragraphs.

Week 5

Your investigative article - workshop one

By now you will have identified a news story you think warrants investigation. Together we discuss your idea and suggest how you can take it forward, sharing ideas for sources, interviewees and angles. You begin work on your investigative article with support from the tutor.

Week 6

Interview skills

Investigative journalists must be able to persuade people to talk. We look at how to prepare for an interview, the questions to ask and how to ask them. Students practise planning and carrying out an interview.

Week 7

Investigative journalism and the law

It might sound dull, but understanding the legal risks to you and the publication you write for is absolutely critical. Using recent case studies, we take a practical look at libel law, privacy, injunctions, confidentiality and the 'chilling effect' all this has on the media.

Week 8

Undercover work and subterfuge

How do subterfuge and the use of covert video and recording techniques help investigative journalists? We look at some examples. And what are the ethical and legal considerations when 'going undercover'?

Week 9

Your investigative article - final workshop

Students share progress with their investigation and seek feedback and guidance from the tutor and each other. Continue work on article with support from tutor. Also, how to pitch your story for publication.