Policy & Investigative Reports

Our spring-quarter course in Policy and Investigative Reporting, taught by veteran prize-winning journalists Peter Aldhous (BuzzFeed News) and Martha Mendoza (Associated Press), deepens each student's reporting toolkit. The substantive articles require students to consult public records, submit requests to public agencies under the Freedom of Information Act, obtain and analyze original data, visualize the data accessibly, and conduct often challenging interviews. A prominent guest editor—most recently, investigative reporter Ben Welsh from the Los Angeles Times—also critiques each piece. The stories below are examples of published assignments. (Some stories contain additional reporting conducted after the students graduated.)

"Will banning trade in fins help endangered sharks? Experts are divided" by Ula Chrobak '17 and Sukee Bennett '17 (Mongabay, July 21, 2017)

"California's struggle over the chemical BPA continues" by Ramin Skibba '16 (San Jose Mercury News, July 2, 2016)

"State to address pesticide use near schools" by Leslie Willoughby '15 and Kerry Klein '15 (Salinas Californian, May 29, 2015)

"Burning issues with medical pot" by Matt Davenport '14 (Detroit News, July 17, 2014) (story no longer available online)

"Lyme disease often overlooked in Northern California" by Molly Sharlach '14 (San Jose Mercury News, July 12, 2014)

"Breast-feeding rates depend largely on hospital where a woman gives birth" by Jessica Shugart '13 (San Jose Mercury News, July 8, 2013)

"A mixed bag: Are California's bans on plastic bags working?" by Paul Gabrielsen '13 (Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 16, 2013)

"Climate war looms over US coal exports to China" by Sarah Jane Keller '12 (New Scientist, October 11, 2012) (subscription required)

"In Vietnamese community, treating taboos on cancer" by Erin Loury '12 (Los Angeles Times, August 11, 2012)

"FDA calls for 'judicious' antibiotic use on farms" by Beth Marie Mole '12 (San Jose Mercury News, May 7, 2012)

"Is stress to blame for preterm births?" by Mark Johnson and Tia Ghose '10 (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 16, 2011)

"Cyclists Find No Safety in Numbers" by John Cannon '08 (Bicycle Times, May 27, 2009)

"Is local food really miles better?" by Roberta Kwok '08 (Salon, June 24, 2008)