Here’s How to Turn Students into Sleuths in 15 Weeks

Paulette Desormeaux runs the investigative journalism course at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. She has designed a program, the Advanced Journalism Workshop (Taller de Periodismo Advanzado, in Spanish), that she said can turn students into muckrakers in just 15 weeks. She shared tips on how she did it. Desormeaux encourages her students to develop a “document mindset” by using open sources and government records for investigations, rather than acting “as a microphone” for a whistleblower or leaker. The course takes advantage of Chile’s Freedom of Information law. Desormeaux has assembled a team of professional reporters and editors to help students hone stories and craft pitches (in exchange for free breakfast). Students have to demonstrate to these professional journalists why people should care about their story, set out key sources and explain which FOI requests they are going to file.

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