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The Storyteller as an Investigator: How to Turn a Tip into an Investigation

About This Course

In the fall of 2011, the Tampa Bay Times got a tip about possible abuse at a boys’ military school in a remote part of the Florida panhandle. One year later, the Times published a three-part series about what reporter Alexandra Zayas learned: that children had, for years, been subjected to extreme discipline, bizarre punishments and physical abuse in private, religious group homes across Florida that state child welfare workers did not regulate and had no power to shut down. The series, called “In God’s Name,” led to a statewide crackdown and a new law, won three national awards, including a Livingston Award, and was a finalist in the Pulitzer Prize.

In this Webinar, which is sponsored by the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists, Zayas will share the lessons she learned about how to pair storytelling techniques with an investigative mission that delivers stories with impact.

What Will I Learn?

  • How to turn a tip into the foundation of an investigation
  • How to find sources to expose the private and secluded
  • How to adjust the frame of a story for a harder hit
  • How to gain access when you think it’s impossible
  • How to organize mountains of documents and notes into stories
  • How to use narrative techniques for investigative impact

Course Instructor

Alexandra Zayas

Alexandra Zayas

Alexandra Zayas is an investigative reporter at the Tampa Bay Times. In 2013, she won the Livingston Award for Young Journalists, the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting, a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism and the America’s Promise Journalism Award for Action for her yearlong, three-part series “In God's Name,” which uncovered abuse at unlicensed religious children’s homes across Florida. Zayas has taught classes at the Poynter Institute about developing sources and telling untold stories. She graduated from the University of Miami and has written for the Miami Herald and the Star Tribune in Minneapolis.


The Livingston Awards

The Livingston Awards for Young Journalists and the University of Michigan honor outstanding achievement by professionals under the age of 35 in local, national and international reporting. The largest all-media, general reporting prize in American journalism, the Livingston Awards judge print, broadcast and online entries against one another, a practice of increasing interest as technology blurs the traditional distinctions between the branches of journalism. Many of today's top journalists were recognized by the Livingston Awards early in their career.

The University of Michigan

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