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Investigative Journalism: Proven Strategies for Reporting the Story

by William C Gaines CQ Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 291 pages
AU$86.00 NZ$88.70
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
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Investigative Journalism is a “how-to” primer for beginning investigative journalists. Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter William C. Gaines uses a unique case-study method to teach readers what investigative reporting is, why it is important, and how it is practiced. The case studies are punctuated by reflective questions and answers that systematically guide readers through the narrative. This clever pedagogical device mimics the path of a reporter gathering information and working on a story. Readers will get a first-hand, real-life look at investigative journalists doing their job.

Recognizing that most instructors involve their students in writing actual stories right away, Investigative Journalism is concise and practical. Gaines reveals many strategies to generate story ideas, choose subjects to investigate, and uncover and sift through information and data. Along with the case study exercises, Investigative Journalism is loaded with specific resources used by practicing reporters, plus chapter-specific assignments for student reporters to launch their own investigations. Each chapter concludes with a chapter summary and class assignments.

The cases are based on real investigative stories. Only the names and places have been changed to protect reporters, their sources, and the secrets they have revealed to the author. Students will find these how-to cases widely applicable to the entangled bureaucracies, the free-wheeling local governments, or potential medical insurance fraud scandals they may find in their first jobs in countless cities and towns across the country.

Table of Contents
1. The Investigative Reporter
What is Investigative Journalism?
Investigative Reporters: Who are they?
Legal Issues: Investigative Reporters and the Law
Tools of Investigative Reporting
Case Study: A Public Document Denied
Choosing a Subject for an Investigative Report
Chapter Recap
Class Assignments

2. How to Investigate and Pitch a Story
Using Documents
Gaining Access to Public Records
Searching Databases for Previous Stories
Case Study: Mayor Mixes Public and Private Business
Rubbing Two Documents Together
Getting Attribution
Promoting a Story Idea
How Not to Do It
Chapter Recap
Class Assignments

3. Investigating a Person, Place or Entity
Investigating a Private Person
Investigating a Public Official
Investigating a Business Entity
Investigating a Place
Ethics: Written and Unwritten Rules
Case Study: Waste in City Government
Chapter Recap
Class Assignments

4. Using the Internet During Investigations
Where to Look Online
Surfing the Net
The Internet Audience and Bloggers
Case Study: Military Guns Sold on the Internet
Chapter Recap
Class Assignments

5. Investigating Those Who Guard the Public
Issues of Safety
Fire Protection
Case Study: The Firehouse
The Investigative Interview
How Not to Do It
Chapter Recap
Class Assignments

6. Examining the Police and the Courts
The Police
The Courts
Case Study: A Look Behind the Judicial Robe
Chapter Recap
Class Assignments

7. Investigating Charities, Non-Profits and Foundations
Regulating Non-Profits
Case Study: Everybody Loves a Carnival
Charting an Investigative Project
Chasing a Telemarketer Complaint: How TV Presents Investigative Findings
Chapter Recap
Class Assignments

8. Investigating Government
Investigating Voting and Elections
Investigating Local Misbehavior
Reviewing Documents, FIOA, and Open Records ACY
Finding and Understanding Political Campaign Reports
Reviewing Minutes of Meetings
Researching Property Ownership
Case Study: Stolen Documents
Chapter Recap
Class Assignments

9. Reporting About Consumer Fraud
The Defenders
Fraud Schemes
Survey and Going Undercover
Case Study: Deal of a Lifetime
How Not to Do It
Chapter Recap
Class Assignments

10. Investigating Health Care
Medical Professions
Medical License, Discipline, and Privacy
Government Inspections of Medical Facilities
Insurance Claims and Fraud
Case Study: Investigating Licensed and Unlicensed Professionals
Reporters as Ombudsman
Chapter Recap
Class Assignments

11. Investigating Business
Document-Based Investigations of Privately Held Companies
Case Study: Sports Equals Big Business
Document-Based Investigations of Publicly Held Companies
Original Surveys
Case Study: Auto Mechanics, Routine Checkups
Case Study: Speeding and Tailgating Trucks
Chapter Recap
Class Assignments

12. Special Topic and Tricks of the Trade
Back-Pocket Documents
Case Study: School Food, Lowest Bid
How Not to Do It
Chapter Recap
Class Assignments
Websites and Readings to Investigate

Federal Freedom of Information Act
Law, Tax Exempt Organizations, and IRS 990 Filing
How TV, Newspaper, and Internet Writing Styles Differ


“Investigative Reporting gives students a semester’s worth of immersion in the mindset, practices, issues, resources, ethical dilemmas, and reporting and writing solutions that will give them a solid grounding in the importance of and approaches to investigative reporting. These elements are nicely integrated in the book’s accounts of real and hypothetical reporting situations: the stories are especially valuable in allowing students to see concepts in action and in holding the reader’s interest. Finally, the presentation of dilemmas with yes-no solutions should provide lots of opportunities for class discussion and debate.”

- Ira Chinoy, University of Maryland
William C. Gaines is an investigative journalist who spent his career at the Chicago Tribune (1974-2001). He won the Pulitzer for investigative reporting in 1988 for a series of stories about corruption in the Chicago City Council and shared the prize in 1976 for special local reporting on a series of stories about unsafe medical practices in some Chicago hospitals. He was also a finalist for the prize in 1995 for stories about financial dealings of the Nation of Islam. Gaines has been teaching reporting courses since 1975, first at Columbia College in Chicago, then at University of North Dakota, and since 1999, at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Gaines has also written an investigative biography of jazz composer and performer, Jelly Roll Morton.