Tag Archives: investigative journalism

Mark Feldstein Talks About Investigative Reporting on National Press Club Podcast

Eaton Chair Mark Feldstein

Mark Feldstein.

COLLEGE PARK (6/25/18) — Mark Feldstein spoke about investigative journalism, leaks and the role of social media in journalism in a recent interview with The National Press Club’s Update-1 podcast.

Feldstein, Richard Eaton Chair of Broadcast Journalism at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism, said reporters who receive, verify and publish leaked information are doing a public service and should not be punished.

Exposing corruption and abuses of power, he said, has been a key tenant of journalism for more than 300 years.

“It’s not that we as journalists are somehow a sacrosanct class,” Feldstein said. “It’s that the public needs the information we dig up about malfeasance, about wrongdoing, so that it can be an external check on abuse of authority.”

Feldstein spent 20 years as an award-winning on-air investigative correspondent at CNN, ABC News and various local television stations.

His exposés led to resignations, firings, multi-million dollar fines, and prison terms — and more than 50 journalism awards, including two George Foster Peabody medallions, the Columbia-DuPont baton, the national Edward R. Murrow broadcasting prize and nine regional Emmys.

For more information, contact:
Alexander A. Pyles

Capital News Service, Kaiser Health News Investigation Published by The Washington Post

"Home Sick" Baltimore asthma project

A months-long investigation by the Philip Merrill College of Journalism‘s Capital News Service and Kaiser Health News has been published by the The Washington Post.

CNS and Kaiser reporters reviewed some 10 million cases of inpatient and emergency room cases in Maryland to show how housing conditions and hospital policies contribute to illness in some communities.

The review found that residents in one Baltimore neighborhood — a short distance from world-renowned medical institutions — suffer from asthma at more than four times the rate of people in the city’s wealthier areas.

Capital News Service has also published a full package of related stories. The project, called “Home Sick,” delves even more deeply into the conditions that lead to high rates of asthma in some Baltimore neighborhoods.

The project grew out of Merrill College Professor Sandy Banisky‘s urban affairs reporting class and Capital News Service director Sean Mussenden‘s data bureau.

Capital News Service is the college’s student-powered news organization at the University of Maryland. CNS has bureaus in College Park, Annapolis and Washington — all run by professional journalists.

Banisky and Mussenden worked with Tom Bettag, the college’s Eleanor Merrill Distinguished Visiting Fellow, and Merrill College students Naema Ahmed, Helen Lyons (M.J. ’17), Talia Richman (’17) and others.

The investigation was conducted in partnership with Kaiser Health News, including senior correspondent Jay Hancock and reporter Rachel Bluth (M.J. ’16). Douglas Birch and Doug Kapustin also contributed.

“Home Sick” Stories Seek Answers to These Questions

Merrill Professor, Alumna Win National Science Journalism Award For Superbug Series

Deborah Nelson and Yasmeen Abutaleb

Deborah Nelson (left) and Yasmeen Abutaleb

An investigative series co-authored by a Philip Merrill College of Journalism professor and an alumna has won a national science journalism award.

The Uncounted” — by associate professor of investigative journalism Deborah Nelson, Reuters health care reporter Yasmeen Abutaleb (Merrill College ‘14) and Reuters reporter Ryan McNeill — won gold this week in the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards.

The five-part series exposed government agencies’ failure to track the tens of thousands of deaths caused each year by antibiotic-resistant infections — so-called superbugs. The lack of such data cripples public health agencies’ ability to prevent, detect and respond to superbugs.

Warren Leary is a former New York Times science writer who helped judge the contest. In announcing the award, he said the series “broke new ground on a major health issue threatening the country.”

Nelson, a Pulitzer Prize winner, said she “was thrilled to have a chance to work with one of our own grads on an investigative project” outside of the classroom. Nelson’s students have produced award-winning stories on human trafficking, rising seas, the working poor and other topics as part of her investigative journalism course at Merrill College.

Abutaleb double-majored in journalism and microbiology at the University of Maryland. Already interested in science, she discovered a passion for reporting when she joined the staff of The Diamondback her freshman year.

By the end of her sophomore year, Abutaleb was the newspaper’s editor in chief.

She decided to combine her interests. That paid off in 2015, when Reuters editors assigned her to join Nelson in investigating infection-related deaths in hospitals.

“Her combined journalism and science background gave us a huge leg-up,” Nelson said.

Abutaleb said it was her “first big project,” and she was grateful to have Nelson as a guide.

“There were parts where I would get stuck and called Deb to pick her brain,” Abutaleb said. “She was kind of like my teacher through this whole project.”

Abutaleb said she was proud of the entire series, but especially Part 1 — “it laid out the scope of this massive problem,” she said — and Part 2, which she called the “most challenging reporting and writing experience I’ve had.”

In Part 2, the Reuters team tells the story of a man who contracted multiple drug-resistant infections while recovering from transplant surgery. The man died.

In reporting that story, Nelson said Abutaleb showed “an amazing ability to get people to open up and to trust her with some of their most painful memories.”

“Through many patient and sensitive interviews over many months, Yasmeen produced a powerful narrative about the human and financial cost of these infections,” Nelson said.

By the time the series published, Abutaleb had found a new interest: investigative journalism.

“It’s a different level of fulfillment when you do something like this,” she said.

Merrill College: Fearless Journalism

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – What does Fearless Journalism mean at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism? We’ve given that a lot of thought – and we think that for our potential – and current – Merrill journalists, there’s a lot to say about what we will teach you and ultimately, how you will practice as a working journalist going into the future. Never has there been a time that required more from journalists. The training you will receive here – everything from investigative journalism to sports –  will make a difference. It will make you a fearless journalist.

Here’s what Fearless Journalism means:

  • The relentless search for what is true and meaningful;
  • The willingness to question conventional wisdom;
  • The courage to ask tough but fair questions;
  • The ability to set our own news agenda, and not follow that of others;
  • The perseverance to not give up when there are those who would deter you from pursuing a story;
  • The spirit to experiment with various modes of storytelling on many platforms;
  • The independence to hold the powerful accountable;
  • The wisdom to give voice to the powerless;
  • The vision to shape the agenda.

(Thanks to Jay Kernis ’74 and Chris Frates ’00)

There’s more!

Watch our new Fearless Journalism video that explains all the great classes, tools, experiences – in and out of class – that you’ll have here at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism:


Thanks to Ralph Crosby ’46 , John Seng ’79, David Butler (Butler Films) and Alanna Delfino ’14 for making this video possible.


Associate Professor Deborah Nelson In Lillehammer: Learning by Doing with Students

Deborah Nelson and Sheila S. Coronel

Deborah Nelson and Sheila S. Coronel. Used with permission.

By Olivia Knudsen & Agnete Bråtun
Olivia Knudsen and Agnete Bråtun are journalism students at the University College of Volda. They were on special assignment covering the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Lillehammer, Norway earlier this month.

Reprinted with permission.

(LILLEHAMMER, Norway) – Oct. 22: Are muckrackers born or made? The question was asked by Sheila S. Coronel, academic dean at Colombia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, in the session Investigative Journalism with Students.

“We believe they are made, that is why we are teaching investigative journalism. We also believe they come in all sizes and shapes.”

Coronel and Deborah Nelson, associate professor of investigative journalism at the University of Maryland, discussed how they teach their students to produce high quality stories and what they expect from them.

Coronel highlighted that the only way to learn investigative journalism is by doing.

Deborah Nelson
thinks investigative journalism is crucial and that all journalism studies should focus more on this type of reporting and writing. “When I interview them, I try to scare them. If they still want to study here, they know what investigative journalism is all about. They are very talented,” she said.

Nelson explained that they chose the cases to work on depending on the level of difficulty and importance. The students need inner strength and curiosity to work on the project, but also, constant guidance from professors.

Journalism teachers “should read investigative stories to their students, analyze them, and talk about them step by step,” she said. And they “should be available for the students so they can ask for help while working.”

Check out Deborah Nelson’s presentation here.

Read the entire story on the Global Investigative Journalism Conference website.