Roundtable debates and seminars in data scouring seem like scenes from a Robert Redford movie. However this scene was the School of Journalism’s Carolina Reporter room, filled to the brim with aspiring investigative journalists.
The first Pre-Collegiate Workshop in Investigative Journalism took place before the Carolina Journalism Institute. The faculty, with Ernest Wiggins as director of the workshop, included professors from the j-school as well as professional journalist Chris Davis from the St. Petersburg Times.
I had heard about the workshop at the SIPA convention in March. Then I heard about it again at the SCSPA conference in April, and then about ten more times from my advisers and emails from Karen Flowers, director of the scholastic journalism organizations at the j-school. Finally, I decided to apply because I thought the workshop would be a great way for me to learn, from journalists, a craft that could help me better my publication.
When I applied, I imagined a class of 20 or more students sitting aournd listening to lectures. Whoa, I was wrong.
When I got to the workshop the morning of June 13, I saw a group of nine socializing and thought it was a small percentage of the participants, a mere platoon in a larger army of investigative journalists. Those nine people were my only classmates.
Having a class that size helped me not only focus on what was being taught, but also get to know the other students.
The workshop focused on how to find data, read data, and apply data to find story ideas. The work we did helped me learn how to refine searches to reveal specific, credible sources and how to use the data found to create statistics.
The teachers explained the material with timely and relevant real-world examples.
The workshop taught me not only about data management and investigative journalism, but it also allowed me to trade ideas about ethics, data, and investigative story ideas with journalists my own age.
When the next “call for applications” comes out, don’t wait as long as I did. Send it in ASAP. The combination of the workshop and CJI (although attending CJI is optional) will help you prepare for your future as a journalist or just an informed citizen.