Investigative Radio

Course Details

Permission of instructor is required.

In recent years, the investigative audio feature has taken center stage. Think Serial in 2014, and more recently, the Center for Investigative Reporting’s new show Reveal. Last year, Malcolm Gladwell’s hit podcast, Revisionist History, took his signature brand of think pieces for the New Yorker and brought listeners on a journey uncovering concepts, events, and issues we thought we knew—all while presenting interviews, data, and reinterpretations to back up Gladwell’s theories (and editorializing). Investigative radio isn’t new. NPR and the BBC have always conducted in-depth reporting, particularly as special series for their signature daily news programs. However, in the last few years, we’ve seen more podcasts dedicated to this vital form of journalism. And, in our current political times, this genre of reporting and storytelling is likely to experience an even bigger push from outlets–both traditional radio and otherwise. In this course, students will work individually or in pairs to create well-researched and fact-checked investigative audio features. Students will learn to file FOIA requests, develop CAR skills, and solid ethics working on sensitive material and with sensitive sources. Emphasis will be placed on developing a sophisticated understanding of narrative tension and arc as it pertains to creating a well-told story that reveals situations, facts, and understandings that are new, not well understood, or hotly debated. Students will begin the semester by analyzing the work of seminal investigative audio work from NPR and the BBC, as well as other international audio work from Australia and Germany, and developing a critical ear for what makes investigative radio a compelling, educational, and vital journalistic form.