The Centre for Investigative Journalism
The Centre for Investigative Journalism

#CIJSummer: Story-Based Inquiry Method – Online

This four-part online course, which takes place over four days, gives you the basics for starting, deepening, organising and writing an investigative report. This course is part of the #CIJSummer Investigative Journalism Conference 2021

Dates: 5-6 July 2021
Time: 10:00 till 11:30 AND 12:00 till 13:30 (BST London, UK time).
Group size: max 40 people.
Class duration: 1hr 30min x 2 times a day x 2 days
Level of participation: high, with regular Q&A sections.

The course 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.

This is one of our most popular courses at #CIJSummer Conference.

“This method is a must for any investigative journalist. It will give you the tools to organise your material for the better. The manual equips with you a number of skills, but most importantly it structures your investigation. So when it comes to filing your story you are fully prepared and not looking for that quote in the cloud”

#CIJSummer 2020 feedback

“This was the most useful course I have ever attended. Clear, hands-on, and superbly delivered.”

Feedback 2021

“It was great. I’d do it again and I’d recommend it to people. I wanted to learn how to organize my reporting process and the course gave me just that. I’m already using some of the techniques in my work.”

Feedback 2021

The course fee includes not only the lectures, but also two Logan/CIJ handbooks that dive deep into the techniques covered in the lectures.

Technical Requirements

This course will be hosted on Zoom.

Our Zoom account’s default settings have been modified to maximise information security and ensure all training participants’ data protection and privacy. See details of our Zoom infosec settings HERE

5 July 2021 – Part 1: From question to hypothesis.

A hypothesis is what you think happened -- a provisional story based on available evidence. It enables rapid assessment of the interest and viability of your idea and potential sources before investing your time in further research. Our colleagues at ICIJ call it a core skill in contemporary investigative projects.

5 July 2021 – Part 2: Nailing the timeline.

Timelines provide a backbone to your story, allowing 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.

6 July 2021 – Part 3: 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.

6 July 2021 – Part 4: 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 analyse 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.

Dr Mark Lee Hunter

Dr Mark Lee Hunter is a founding member of The Global Investigative Journalism Network, the principal author of Story-Based Inquiry: A Manual for Investigative Journalists (UNESCO 2009) and the recipient of many awards for his reporting.

Luuk Sengers

Luuk Sengers is a journalist and lecturer. He investigates how large corporations affect the environment and climate change for the leading Dutch magazine De Groene Amsterdammer. Luuk is also co-developer of Story-Based Inquiry: an acclaimed and effective method for producing investigative stories.
  • 5 July 2021 10.00–11.30 Timezone: BST (UK Time)
  • 5 July 2021 12.00–13.30 Timezone: BST (UK Time)
  • 6 July 2021 10.00–11.30 Timezone: BST (UK Time)
  • 6 July 2021 12.00–13.30 Timezone: BST (UK Time)
Timezone: BST (UK Time)
Location: Zoom meeting