Story-Based

Inquiry

Our courses are highly interactive and highly honed.

Story-Based Inquiry Method

This four-part (online) course gives you the basics for starting, deepening, organizing and writing an investigative report or story. It sets out the Story-Based Inquiry (SBI) method, which has been successfully used by thousands of journalists, academics and NGO researchers since its publication by UNESCO in 2009.  

The method can be used for feature writing or documentary filmmaking as well as reportage. Its language and approach have been integrated into leading journalism organisations and NGOs worldwide.

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN

From question to hypothesis
A hypothesis is a technique to imagine the story and discuss it before you set off to investigate. With a hypothesis, you can assess the interest and viability of your idea and identify potential sources before investing your time in further research. Our colleagues at ICIJ call it a core skill in contemporary investigative projects.

Nailing the timeline
A timeline offers a useful structure for your story as well as for your research. It enables you to see not only what happened, but what must have happened between known events, and how the story may end. It allows you to focus on dramatic scenes that deepen the impact of your work. In the process, it creates one possible structure for your narrative.

Mapping the stakeholders
A stakeholder map shows you who is involved in your story – as actors, witnesses, and victims. The map leads you to further sources, and enables you to spot relationships among everyone involved. It also indicates the core audience for your story, which is essential to promoting its impact. Not least, it captures an alternative way to structure the story.

From Masterfile to masterpiece
Organisation is a core process for depth reporting. A Masterfile is a simple yet effective database that we use to collect and analyze our material. We leverage organisation to facilitate the composition of final reports. The time you spend in this session will save you thousands of hours across your career. You will also learn writing techniques that enhance the power of your work.

COURSE MATERIAL

The course fee includes not only the lectures, but also a PDF workbook of presentations with space for notes, and two Logan/CIJ handbooks that dive deep into the techniques covered in the lectures. The workbook will be distributed in advance of lectures, so we can focus on interaction aimed at advancing your personal projects.


From webinar participants since June 2020:

“I found the course to be interactive even though it was online. The presentation slides were clear and helped participants keep on track. Questions in the chat were answered in a timely manner.”

“The overall methodology that the two instructors have developed is very clear and it was helpful to have each of four sessions dedicated to going over a different element of the methodology. The additional reading materials are also very helpful to reinforce the content that was presented.”

“I found the presentations and the use of slides well paced and effective.”

“As a student journalist, who wants to specialise in investigative journalism, I learned so much that I would never be taught at university.” 

“I really enjoyed all of it to be honest. From theorizing, to organization, to writing the story, Mark and Luuke gave a lot of helpful tips and tricks that will help me immensely going forward.”

“I love these guys!”

“I like their approach!”

“Pleasant tone, took students seriously, expertly.”

“Just very good, clear and respectful to the participants.”

“I learned a lot from the course and it made me aware of how important it is to get the initial hypothesis and timeline right before pitching the idea to editors.”

“I really enjoyed this course and look forward to making use of the methodology presented in my work.”

“Very helpful advice, with clear examples. I still have to put it into practice, but I have the feeling that this makes very difficult and large projects a lot more feasible and clear.”

“Practical and fits in well with one's own experiences and practice.”

“I particularly enjoyed learning that with this method it becomes a manageable process of a few weeks, rather than a few months or more.”

“The lessons hit the nail on the head. [...] Education doesn't always pay off very well. In this case I was pleasantly surprised.”

“Mark and Luuk, the workshop was fantastic. Thank you for sharing your important work with us!”

“Thank you! My students will be going through this process right now, so thanks again”

“Love it”

“Amazing. Thank you so much!”

From delegates of the CIJ Summers Conferences, 2017-2019:

“Most useful. Very concrete and practical and I feel that most definitely the knowledge obtained [during the classes] will be used.”

“A complete walkthrough on investigative story writing, further reading tips and lots of invaluable info.”