Journalism Research

Journalism Research

Jour 11200-01

Spring 2017

Prof. Pei Zheng

Office: PK 255

Phone: 607-274-3403

Office hours:  Monday 230-430pm, or by appointment


Catalog Description

Introduction to paper and computer database research, with an emphasis placed on locating and evaluating sources available to journalists, including public records. Students research a topic and develop interviewing techniques to produce a comprehensive, semester-long research project written in journalistic style.

My Description

The class title is self-explanatory in that it describes the two key elements of this class.  You will engage in research skills, as it relates to investigative journalism, information and data gathering, analyzing as well as presenting. You’ll engage in research theories in news and journalism – some basic theoretical frameworks that will help you understand news better and diagnose problems in nowadays news industry. You will find some theories are so powerful in digging into the nature of news that they will inspire and direct you in your own writing. In addition, you have to engage in news writing, as always, you’re going to report what you’ve learned through your research.

Course Outcomes

Upon completion of this course students will be able to:

  • Understand the essence of research as measured by assignments
  • Understand fundamental theories in journalism and news industry and adopt the theory to analyze and produce news as measured by readings and class discussion
  • Understand data/information collection, analysis and the proper way for data presentation as measured by assignments and final project
  • Understand how to process information to produce an investigative report as measured by the final project
  • Understand ethical and legal issues involved in the process of information gathering as measured by class discussion and final project
  • Use the AP style in report writing as measured by semester project

Required text

  1. The Data Journalism Handbook
  2. AP Stylebook
  3. Assigned readings (will be post in Sakai)
  4. You should also have a Twitter account, a YouTube account, and Google/Gmail.

 Recommended text

The investigative reporter’s handbook by Brant Houston and Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc.

Course requirements

Participation (10%)

Presentation (5%)

Research skills assignments (40%)

Mid-term project (20%)

Peer review of news story (5%)

Final project (20%)

  • Participation in class (10%): The participation grade is a combination of attendance and in-class participation. Besides “excused absence” (basically, health emergency, religious events or university authorized events. Refer to “Attendance Policy” for more details), each student is allowed up to two unexcused absences during the entire semester without hurting your grade. Beyond the two absences, each absence will cost 2 points deducted from your entire grade. Students should inform the instructor prior to class for both excused and unexcused absence. Failure of notification will cost 5 points deducted from your entire grade, or drop of a letter grade (e.g., from A- to B+). In-class assignments are completion grades. Failure to complete or submit one assignment before deadline will deduct 2 points.
  • Presentation (5%): You will prepare a 10-15 min presentation on (a) an investigative news article, or b) a comparison of investigative news articles on the same issue that did a good/bad example in journalism research. Also, the presenter should prepare 3 questions and lead a 10-15 min class discussion.
  • Research skills assignments (40%): Assignments are designed to test your research skills and help you finish your final project step by step. Specifically, assignments will focus on the following areas. Most are in-class and others are due after class. Details will be announced when time approaches.
    • Observation research
    • Online information searching
    • Content verification
    • Interview
    • Library
    • Data analytics
    • Data presentation and visualization
    • Three mini reaction papers (about 1-2 paragraphs each) about your thoughts on assigned articles.
  • Mid-term project (20%): Mid-term project will be a content analysis report of news articles on the topic you select. Preferably, the topic is the same one for your final investigative story.
  • Final project (20%) and peer-review (5%): Final project is an investigative story on a topic of your choice. The draft is due in April and we will have a round of peer-review. After that, you will have roughly a month to revise your story and the final project is due at the end of lass class.

Grading breakdown is as follows:

100-94%       A

93.9-90         A-

89.9-87         B+

86.9-83         B

82.9-80         B-

79.9-77         C+

76.9-73         C

72.9-70         C-

69.9-67         D+

66.9-63         D

62.9-60         D-

Below 60      F

Rules of the road for all stories

  • Stories must quote at least three people (NOT your friends) in a meaningful way.
  • Class assignment should differ from stories for The Ithacan/ICTV/Radio. If you know that your story is being broadcast/published in student media before they complete the assignment for class, then you need to change the story. Sometimes, however, you can submit class assignments to student media only after it has been turned in.
  • Journalisms work with deadlines. All assignments must be completed by or before deadline, regardless of your attendance in class. Failure to submit on time will receive a zero.
  • If an emergency prevents a student from taking a scheduled exam or meeting the deadlines of an assignment, the student must notify the instructor prior to the exam or deadline. Make-up exams/assignments will be granted only for a limited time and only for valid, documented reasons, such as serious illness, family emergency, jury duty or military reserve obligation (see “Attendance policy” for details).
  • All assignments must be accompanied with a list of the sources consulted, their contact numbers and e-mails.



Week of 1/23 §  Introductions/Start your observation research assignment

§  No class on 1/25, use the time to finish observation assignment

§  Assignment for observation research DUE 1/28 11:59PM

Week of 1/30 §  Share your observation experience;

§  Essence of Journalism research;

§  Search for information;

§  Start to think of your final investigative story idea

§  Assignment for information search DUE IN CLASS

Week of 2/6 §  The art and logic of interview;

§  Research for interview preparation

§  Assignment for interview DUE IN CLASS

§  PRESENTATION STARTS 2/8 (every Wed)

Week of 2/13 §  Library search;

§  Assignment for library DUE IN CLASS

§  First round of story idea sharing in class

§  Presentation 2

Week of 2/20 §  Data analysis and presentation skills

§  Presentation 3

Week of 2/27 §  Research method: Content analysis (Introduction)

§  Information search and interview preparation for gust speaker

§  Guest speech on 3/1

§  Assignments for data analysis and presentation DUE 3/1  11:59pm (related to the guest speech)

Week of 3/6 §  Research method: Content analysis (Codebook design); In-class exercise

§  Individual meeting with me to discuss your mid-term project

§  Presentation 4


Week of 3/13 §  NO CLASS. Happy Spring Break!
Week of 3/20 §  Work on your mid-term project; Trouble shooting;

§  Mid-term project DUE AT THE END OF CLASS ON 3/20

§  Mid-term project presentation

Week of 3/27 §  Crowdsourcing;

§  User generated content (UGC); Content verification;

§  Assignment for content verification DUE IN CLASS

§  Presentation 5

§  Working on your final investigative story

§  Mini reaction paper on News Framing 1 DUE 4/1 11:59PM

Week of 4/3 §  Journalism research theory: Framing 1

§  Presentation 6

§  Mini reaction paper on News Framing 2 DUE 4/8 11:59PM

§  Working on your final investigative story

Week of 4/10 §  Journalism research theory: Framing

§  Journalism research theory: Agenda-setting

§  Presentation 7

§  Mini reaction paper on Agenda-Setting DUE 4/1 11:59PM

§  Working on your final investigative story

Week of 4/17 §  Journalism research theory: Agenda-setting

§  Final story draft DUE 4/17 BY THE END OF CLASS

§  Peer-review DUE 4/19 BY THE END OF CLASS

Week of 4/24 §  Ethical and legal issues in research; Ed Snowden; WikiLeaks

§  Work on your final project; Trouble shooting

Week of 5/1 §  Work on your final project; Trouble shooting;

§  Final project DUE IN CLASS ON 5/1

§  Final project presentation


*Please note: Schedule is subject to change!