The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism is deeply committed to investigative reporting. If you are passionate about this field of journalism, as we are, this is the place you should be.
You’ll learn how to conceive and execute investigative stories from journalists with years of experience digging into a wide range of subjects, from City Hall to corporate boardrooms to global espionage. They’ll teach you how to delve into documents, mine data, identify sources, cultivate whistleblowers, conduct interviews, uncover human drama and present your findings in compelling pieces produced on multiple media platforms.
CUNYJ student and alumni investigative work wins awards and recognition locally, nationally and internationally. Graduates have gone on to investigative careers at major news organizations.
To assist students as they pursue their stories, the school has created an endowment fund that helps pay for obtaining government records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), traveling to interviews and attending investigative journalism conferences.
At a time when many media organizations are slashing investigative budgets, we have established three grant programs that support in-depth reporting projects by working journalists and help sustain the professional community.
Join us and get involved in a journalistic calling we all really believe in.
Our students have an outstanding track record getting investigations published. In the past seven years, they have won the nation’s top prize for student investigative work, given by Investigative Reporters & Editors, and been finalists three other times.
That work included probing shootings by New York police of innocent bystanders, revealing questionable school spending and exploring jailings of pregnant women under controversial drug laws. The top IRE prize went to an examination into how the wrongfully convicted get unequal compensation, despite promises to the contrary.
One student, now a CNN reporter, was singled out by the Society of Professional Journalists for her exceptional use of the Freedom of Information Act, digging into FBI files.
CUNY students also contributed to the PBS award-winning documentary “Crossing the Line At the Border,” examining deaths of migrants coming from Mexico. Another student published her investigation at NBCNews.com, revealing how injured war veterans get inadequate prosthetics. It was one of the major news website’s most viewed stories when it came out.
Students have also worked as a team on class-wide projects. A series of stories on how local political leaders in the Bronx used their clout to win lucrative appointments from judges they helped appoint earned first-place prize for in-depth reporting from the New York Press Association. Other projects tackled by CUNY students include the first in-depth look at how tens of thousands of New Yorkers are the victims of errors on their criminal record histories, mistakes that cost them jobs, loans and school opportunities. Another class-wide effort analyzed how lobbyists and those seeking business or favors from city government continue to evade limits on campaign donations, despite decades of reforms.
Student investigations have been published in local news outlets from City Limits and the Riverdale Press to The New York Times. They’ve also appeared internationally, in places like Cameroon and Pakistan, and won grants from The Nation Foundation.
Our students get to learn from a wide range of guest lecturers and panel discussions. In 2014, the school was proud to host IRE’s regional watchdog conference, featuring presentations by top professionals who probe business, health, sports and politics. It was one of the best-attended regional events in the organization’s history.
INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING GRANTS
The CUNY J-School supports investigative work by professional journalists through several new grant programs.
The Urban Reporting Grants offer up to $15,000 to professional journalists conducting investigations in New York City on subjects such as poverty, criminal justice, government and education.
The Ravitch Fiscal Reporting Fellowships award up to $15,000 to reporters seeking to dig deeply into budgets, debt, pensions and other post-employment obligations, tax policy and how fiscal stress changes government priorities.
The McGraw Fellowships, part of The McGraw Center for Business Journalism, provide stipends of up to $15,000 for ambitious reporting on U.S business and the global economy. This helped freelancer Nathan Halverson of the Center for Investigative Reporting produce a two-part PBS NewsHour series on the Chinese acquisition of a giant U.S. food producer, Who’s Behind the Chinese Takeover of the World’s Biggest Pork Producer?, which won an Emmy on Sept. 28.
- Tom Robbins, Investigative Journalist in Residence Robbins is a dean of investigative journalism in New York City, having worked as a columnist and staff writer at the Village Voice, the New York Daily News, and The New York Observer. His stories on political corruption and urban issues have been cited by many organizations, including Investigative Reporters and Editors, the New York Press Club, the Deadline Club, and the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, which gave his political columns in the Voice its top award in both 2009 and 2010.
- Andrew W. Lehren, Adjunct Faculty Lehren, who teaches the Investigative Reporting course, is an award-winning reporter at The New York Times, and has worked on a range of national, international, and investigative stories. He was one of the newspaper’s lead reporters analyzing the Wikileaks trove of diplomatic cables, Afghanistan and Iraq war logs and Guantanamo detainee dossiers.
- Benjamin Lesser, Adjunct Faculty Lesser, who teaches research methods in the Investigative Reporting course, spent more than a decade as an investigative reporter with a focus on computer-assisted reporting at The Record in Hackensack, N.J. and the New York Daily News. He is currently a researcher at the CUNY Research Foundation.
- Marshall Allen, Adjunct Faculty Allen, who teaches Investigative Health Reporting, is a reporter for ProPublica. His “Do No Harm: Hospital Care in Las Vegas,” written in collaboration with Alex Richards for the Las Vegas Sun, was honored with several journalism awards, including the Harvard Kennedy School’s 2011 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. It was also a Pulitzer Prize finalist for local reporting.
- Jarrett Murphy, Adjunct Faculty Murphy, who teaches Urban Investigative Reporting, has been editor-in-chief of City Limits since April 2010, having served as its print editor and investigations editor since early 2007. Prior to joining City Limits, Murphy worked as a metro reporter and media columnist at the Village Voice, where he ran the Power Plays political blog. From 2000 to 2004, Murphy served as a producer at CBSNews.com.
Investigative Reporting – 3 credits
This is an intensive capstone course that explores the advanced reporting, writing, organizational, analytical, research and data skills that are the foundation of investigative journalism. Using New York City as a laboratory, each student is assigned an investigative project. Some projects will require a team of two or three students. By the end of the semester each student or team will produce a 2,500 word investigative article or a 15-minute broadcast.
Investigative Health Reporting – 3 credits
Students gain the tools necessary to expose sub-standard patient care and financial irregularities. Each student will investigate a local nursing home that has scored poorly on official quality measures. In addition, the class will undertake a group reporting project, with the professor acting as editor, to learn how large investigative stories are developed from the ground up. This is one of the choices for students in the Health & Science Reporting concentration.
Urban-Investigative – 3 credits
This course will give students in the Urban Reporting concentration the opportunity to do investigative reporting on behalf of local city and ethnic media looking for in-depth coverage of unsolved problems in their communities. Depending on the specific project(s) chosen by the class, students will learn freedom of information request techniques, analyze data, and conduct on-site interviews and research at courthouses, government agencies, businesses and organizations.
Data-driven Interactive Journalism – 3 credits
We swim in a world of data – from election results, budgets, and census reports, to Facebook updates and image uploads. Journalists need to know how to find stories in data and shape them in compelling ways. This course teaches students to gather, analyze, and visualize interactive data-driven stories. This emerging discipline touches on information and interactivity design, mapping, graphing, animation tools, and data analysis.
Scraping for Journalists – 1 credit
In this five-week course, students learn to extract information from websites by web scraping. Scraped data is being used more and more to identify and document stories that would otherwise be impossible to produce. Students learn how to use Python to create web scrapers of their own or to adapt a range of sample scrapers, and then write a story based on that data. Students don’t need to be skilled developers already, but should be comfortable with website structure.