We focus here on the skills of investigative reporting, of finding stuff out, and creating a compelling set of stories about what we learned through text and multimedia. There's a brief, formal syllabus available but really you want to check here often for updates, assignments, and general musings. We're also likely to use eLC and, probably, Slack. More on that later. A class calendar should be at the bottom of this page for those of you who like to keep up with things or, you know, do the actual readings.

2 - 3:15 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays, Room 241 of Journalism (a room pretty much like every other room, only more so)



Texts and Materials

There is no big, fat, expensive textbook that costs 150 bucks that you can't sell back to the bookstore when you're finished. You're welcome. Instead, you must join as a student Investigative Reporters & Editors, and, once a member, buy this $10 book that comes in e-format. We'll also use the IRE site for lots of material and I'll take care of the rest through lectures and generally making stuff up. Early on we'll focus on the skills of investigative reporting and exploring how other investigative reporters did their work. After that, we do our own stories.



You will get a grade at the end of the semester, somewhere between A and Z. It will come from small assignments, your major assignment, and a random letter generator. The last one is much easier on me. I also reserve the right to grade on whether you did the readings for a given day, via pop quiz or telephathy. Expect lots of small assignments early on as we practice skills to use later in our stories.



There are a lot of policies, such as don't cheat, don't plagiarize, don't spit into the wind, don't drink light beer, and never make stuff up. The university has its own rules you should read, but if a problem arises I tend to use my own special judicial hearing in which I act as judge, jury, and executioner. I love the executioner role. Hey, we all have our hobbies.



Early on we'll meet every day, and hopefully as you work on stories we won't meet as often. That said, this class is scheduled for twice a week, so you get two free misses. There are no excused or unexcused absences, so don't tell me why you missed. You get two free misses to spend as you choose (though they don't exempt you from assignments due on the day you miss). On the third miss, you lose a letter grade. On the fourth, another letter grade, and so on and so on until we run out of letters. So miss three classes, you start with a B as the best grade you can get. Good news is, I know there are a couple of days I'll be out of town early on.


Other Stuff

  • There is a theme to our investigative class -- Downtown Athens. We'll cover it from all kinds of angles. More later.
  • Also on our theme, we may use teams. I hate teams. I also hate spunk. But teams are often the most efficient way to handle this kind of class. In the team approach, you'll have a broad topic and generate a main longish story and sidebars, as well as visuals such as photos, video, graphics. And data. We want data.
  • More stuff to come, I'm sure. Or maybe not. We'll see. Definitely probably.



    Helpful Links

    IRE (vital for this class,see above)
    IRE Extra Extra (latest investigative stories, note categores to left)
    Journalist's Toolbox (lots of great stuff we will shamelessly steal)
    Links to Georgia's records law (just because)





    We're gonna squeeze a lot of stuff early in the semester so we can focus on stories later in the semester. Expect a high reading load and lots of small exercises to ensure you're absorbing and able to use what you've read. Check here often as I will add stuff for you to read or do. Keep in mind eLC will be used for uploading any assignments.



    Week 1 (8/14): Before class, see eLC for a reading you are to have done. On Tuesday I'll intro the class, discuss the reading, hopefully we're out quickly because I hate first days. Plus there's a good chance I'll ask you about takeaways from the reading.

    By Thursday you must be a card-carrying member of IRE. Also, get the e-book for ten bucks or so. We continue and talk about sourcing and ethical investigative reporting and I'll get a sense of where you are and talk about where we're going. Hell, I may even -- out of meanness -- give you a brief writing assignment to judge your skills. Oh, and read this AJC story done by a couple of students in last semester's investigative reporting class.



    Week 2 (8/21): Open records and FOIA

    For Tuesday, read this and this. Also, backgrounding people, places and things. There's this on backgrounding candidates, for example, and this for more general folks. I'm also a big fan of this list of verification tools. In other words, stalking for beginners. I'll try to wear my trench coat. Yes, that's all for Tuesday except this -- using all your new knowledge, background a local public official (ACC commissioner, school board member, etc.). Upload this to eLC in a Folder called Background1. Deadline is Tuesday (8/22) noon. No late work accepted. PDF only, all other forms will be deleted and not counted as having been done. Just create a Word file, fill it full of interesting stuff you found about your person online, and turn that into a PDF file for upload.

    On Thursday, anything we didn't finish a coupla days ago, plus more stuff, especially on Georgia's open records/meetings law, which you should all be experts on from my previous class.



    Week 3 (8/28): Interviewing and sourcing. There's this. More to come.



    Week 4 (9/4): Data Journalism. I may make this two weeks. Because I can.



    Week 5 (9/11): Crime and punishment, cops & courts, etc.



    Week 6 (9/18): Local and state government, from city hall to schools to, well, all this stuff, including how to read budgets and audits.



    Week 7 (9/25): No class on Tuesday as I'm out of town. On Thursday, a visit from Google. Not the site itself, one of its people and how to use their resources to find stuff out.



    Week 8 (10/2): Businesses and non-profits. This and this on backgrounding companies.



    Week 9 (10/9): Energy, utilities, environment, transportation, and other special topics


      From here on I will mix special topics with work on your team projects and individual stories. We will continue to talk about or elaborate on some of the topics above, or add new ones. My plan at the moment is to use Tuesday for special topics and Thursdays to talk about your stories, but this may change.  

    My Contact Info

    E: barry@uga.edu
    P: 706-542-5027
    Twitter: @barryhollander
















































    Stuff we'll eventually use, parked here

    Web and social media search (IRE)

    Art of the Interview (IRE)

    More Interviewing (IRE)

    Data State of Mind (IRE)

    Google Fusion Tables for Beginners (IRE)

    Too Many Useful Storytelling Tools (IRE, via Medium)

    Negotiating for Records (IRE)


    Stories we may read/watch

    Waycross Georgia

    Houston Chronicle -- Denied series

    Where's the Party At? (Daily Wildcat)

    Turnpike vendors, by Action News Pittsburgh

    Seabreeze (LA Times)

    Black Drivers (Minnesota NPR)

    NBC stuff on campus. Three links, listed below




    State Sanctioned Loan Sharking for student loans (Propulica and NYT)