Investigative journalism involves reporters researching important topics of public interest to uncover crimes, injustice, corruption, and other forms of wrongdoing. In this activity, you act as an investigative journalist to explore a political topic of interest and importance.
Investigative journalists have helped to create social and political change throughout history from improving worker conditions in the early 1900s (the early muckrakers’ work of Ida Tarbell, Ida B. Wells, Upton Sinclair, and others) to releasing the Pentagon Papers (Daniel Ellsberg; 1971), exposing sexual harassment in the 2010s (#MeToo), and uncovering the workings of the January 6, 2021 Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
You can go here to learn more about investigative journalists, past and present, including Nellie Bly (hailed by many as the first investigative reporter), Rachel Carson, and current examples such as the Pandora Papers and the Facebook Files.
Given journalism's potential to affect social change, what contemporary issues would you investigate?
Activity: Investigate an Issue of Importance
Partner up with a classmate and select one political issue of interest to you both.
Then, on your own:
Interview at least three credible sources that you think will provide valuable information about the issue.
Conduct additional research, including evaluating online sources, reviewing government documents (e.g., proposed laws), and exploring historical artifacts (e.g., supreme court case transcripts), to expand your understanding of the issue. Make sure to evaluate the credibility and accuracy of the information that you find.
Create a 1-2 minute video presenting your findings about the topic.
The video should establish four key things to the viewer: 1) Why the topic matters, 2) Why the topic is important to you, 3) What key information the audience needs to know about it (taken from your sources), and 4) What social action you recommend to help address the issue.
Finally, watch your partner's video about the same topic and discuss how the media can provide competing information and views about government and politics.
Designing for Learning: Student-Created Activity Example