The Centre for Investigative Journalism
The Centre for Investigative Journalism

Story-Based Inquiry Method

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 now SOLD OUT.  –> Register your interest here and we’ll inform you as soon as places become available.

Price: £45 for the entire course, including two handbooks and a PDF workbook.
Group size: max 30 people.
Class duration: 2hrs x 4 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.

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

Delegate feedback 2019

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

Delegate feedback 2017

Technical Requirements

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.

NB The workbook will be distributed in advance of lectures, please print it out, you will need it during the course.

We also recommend you read the Logan/CIJ Handbooks provided ahead of the course.

This course will need you to have the following software/apps/tools on your computer:

  • Zoom app
  • Camera and audioThis course will be hosted on Zoom. To find out more about how we use Zoom, please check out our Zoom InfoSec page.

13 July 2020 – Day 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.

14 July 2020 – Day 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.

15 July 2020 – Day 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.

16 July 2020 – Day 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 an experienced teacher and investigative journalist. He lectures at universities and in newsrooms and writes data-driven stories for the leading Dutch magazine De Groene Amsterdammer. He is also the co-developer of Story-Based Inquiry.
  • 13 July 2020 17.00–19.00
  • 14 July 2020 17.00–19.00
  • 15 July 2020 17.00–19.00
  • 16 July 2020 17.00–19.00
Location: Zoom Meeting