Summer Investigative Reporting Course | Columbia Journalism School

Summer Investigative Reporting Course

Application for summer 2023 now open! 

Over three weeks in the summer, participants learn to recognize when a story should be a long‐term project, how to use data to form the backbone of a story, and the multiple ways of reporting a deep investigation.

Join our upcoming Information sessions to learn more! March 21 at 12pm and April 25 at 10am (all times ET).

UPCOMING COURSE: July 10-28, 2023



The Program

The course covers the fundamentals of investigative reporting including:

  • how to develop investigative story ideas and the stages of an investigative project;
  • how to develop a hypothesis and test it through reporting;
  • how to find documents and data internationally to substantiate claims and support findings;
  • how to understand and use financial documents to investigate companies;
  • how to interview sources for stories, including those reluctant to talk;
  • how to bulletproof information for an investigation, both legally and ethically;
  • how to tell an investigation across media platforms;
  • how to structure and write the long-form narrative.

Throughout the program, faculty provide instruction on using digital tools for researching and finding sources including:

  • how to find data and acquire, clean, and analyze it;
  • how to use data to build an investigative story and drive shoe-leather reporting;
  • how to find the human face behind the data and connect findings to people on the ground;
  • how to mine social media, video-sharing feeds, and other open sources for information.

Another critical component of the program will explore how journalists and media partners collaborate on investigative projects to produce more ambitious stories with wider impact. 

Participants should arrive with ideas for stories they can start or continue when they return to the workplace, using skills they learn throughout the course lectures. Participants will also be encouraged to work with colleagues in the course on strategies for how to report their stories, find potential sources and ways to develop the project.

Who Should Apply & Program Fees

The Summer Investigative Reporting Course is for journalists worldwide who report stories as well as editors who manage investigative projects or teams. Workshops focus on developing a major project but lessons are intended to be used by journalists in their everyday reporting. Beat reporters from all departments are encouraged to consider attending.

Fellows from every media platform – newspapers, magazines, television, radio, wire services and digital news outlets – are encouraged to apply. Participants annually come from nations around the world and cover topics ranging from politics and the environment to sports and the arts to local and international news.

University journalism educators who wish to teach investigative reporting may apply.

A strong competence in spoken and written English is required. This workshop is not for beginners. It requires that participants have an extensive background in journalism. Participants should arrive with basic Excel skills to better utilize the data training. Application requirements include a CV, a letter of support from a direct supervisor or manager (freelancers can submit a letter from an editor with whom they have worked), a statement outlining experience and interest in the program, three (3) work samples, and a complete story pitch following the format outlined in our story memo. 

Tuition is $7,500. This covers the cost of the course itself, as well as lunch on class days. It does not include travel, lodging, or other expenses associated with living in New York City for three full weeks.

The Faculty

Instruction is provided by professors who are part of Columbia Journalism School’s full-time and adjunct faculty and by other professional journalists around the country with extensive experience conducting investigations and teaching. Faculty members are multiple winners of the most prestigious journalism awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, Alfred I. duPont Prize, Maria Moors Cabot Prize for coverage of the Americas and many more.

They have reported for media organizations including the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, The New York Times, PBS-Frontline, and Columbia Journalism Investigations.

The Summer Investigative Reporting Course is designed in conjunction with Columbia Journalism Investigations, the school's post graduate reporting program and investigative reporting unit. The program is directed by Kristen Lombardi, the CJI investigative editor and adjunct faculty member. Under her editorial leadership, CJI investigations have won national and regional accolades from the Association of Health Care Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists and the South Carolina Press Association, among others. Before joining Columbia, Kristen spent 11 years as an investigative reporter at the nonprofit newsroom, the Center for Public Integrity. She has been a journalist for 27 years. In addition to directing CJI and leading the instruction for the Summer Investigative Reporting Course, Lombardi advises graduate students in the school's investigative reporting program on their master's projects and has taught the investigative skills class.