Course Description

David Fahrenthold shares the techniques of his trade, career advice and inspiration for the future of investigative journalism on a beat. 

Like David says, "there is nothing in journalism that is as exhilarating as being lied to. That is the sound of after 50 feet of digging your shovel hits the top of the treasure chest."

This lively lecture contains many real life examples from David's work, from reporting on the "National Muskrat Skinning Championship" to crowdsourcing his investigation of the Trump Foundation on Twitter. You can also skip to the case studies for an in-depth look at his coverage of Trump business interests, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 2017.

Take this class whether you are a journalism student, a professional journalist or a member of the public curious to take a peek behind the scenes.

This video lecture is made possible in part by a grant from the News Integrity Initiative to "build enduring trust and mutual respect between newsrooms and the public through sustained listening, collaboration, and transparency." 

The series was filmed in the Newmark J-School studio in New York.

Video lecturer

David Fahrenthold

David A. Fahrenthold is a Washington Post reporter covering the Trump family and its business interests. He has been at The Washington Post since 2000, and previously covered Congress, the federal bureaucracy, the environment and the D.C. police. He has been a regular contributor on CNN and MSNBC.He won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2017 for "persistent reporting that created a model for transparent journalism in political campaign coverage while casting doubt on Donald Trump’s assertions of generosity toward charities."During his investigations, he tweeted photos of his handwritten notepads to solicit help from his audience, hereby investigating "in the open."

Course curriculum

  • 1

    1. Introduction

    • Introduction

  • 2

    2. The Trump Foundation

    • Caucus Day in Iowa

    • The filter was still running

    • The lie that changed my life

    • Twitter as a reporting tool

    • "You're a nasty guy"

    • Links

  • 3

    3. Trust and transparency

    • Let people see you work

    • The generous playboy

    • The notepads

    • Trump and the orphans

    • A $7 donation to the Boy Scouts

    • Links

  • 4

    4. Case Study: The portrait

    • The portrait

    • Links

  • 5

    5. The Trump Organization

    • Building a map

    • From data to humans

    • Trump International Hotel in DC

    • Links

  • 6

    6. Case study: The Saudi connection

    • The Saudi connection

    • Links

  • 7

    7. How I got into journalism

    • Writerly dreams

    • The Harvard Crimson

    • Learning from your "elders"

  • 8

    8. The Washington Post

    • Night cops

    • Build your information filter

    • The environment beat

    • The National Muskrat Skinning Championships

    • It's just you on the road

    • Links

  • 9

    9. Covering politics

    • The weirdness of bureaucracy

    • National Raisin Reserve

    • The 2016 campaign

    • Links

  • 10

    10. Lessons for the future

    • It's not the writing, it's the reporting

    • Six lessons

    • Survey: Did you like this lecture?

Reviews

5 star rating

Introductory title is very good, simple and clear

Rose Njoroge

I enjoyed the introductory videos. It helped me connect with the tutor

I enjoyed the introductory videos. It helped me connect with the tutor

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5 star rating

Great information!

Harsha Nahata

Loved getting this insight into another reporter's trajectory and experiences.

Loved getting this insight into another reporter's trajectory and experiences.

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5 star rating

Luca Peluzzi

5 star rating

Informative and useful to any journalist

Evelina Nedlund

This was a very helpful and informative course, and easy to navigate through each section. Very enjoyable!

This was a very helpful and informative course, and easy to navigate through each section. Very enjoyable!

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5 star rating

Shaukat Korai

5 star rating

Thought provoking

Lisa Sheridan

I loved the database concept he discussed. Eventually, random bits connect

I loved the database concept he discussed. Eventually, random bits connect

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5 star rating

Allanis Menuci

5 star rating

Excellent, informative and interesting.

Jennifer Badders

This was an excellent, interesting and informative course. I enjoyed each section and found myself eager to tune back in after every section completed. The f...

Read More

This was an excellent, interesting and informative course. I enjoyed each section and found myself eager to tune back in after every section completed. The format made it easy to tune in when I was available. Great platform, and I hope to see more of these courses. Thanks, I learned a lot!

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5 star rating

John Sok

5 star rating

David Fahrenthold’s workshop is far beyond generic good a...

Dee Dee (Deirtra) Thompson

I’m new to journalism and coming from an arts background. For me, the most inspiring takeaway was seeing how Fahrenthold relies on his creative roots in come...

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I’m new to journalism and coming from an arts background. For me, the most inspiring takeaway was seeing how Fahrenthold relies on his creative roots in comedy to ask, What if? Instead of dismissing absurdist possibilities, Fahrenthold–like the late, great Mark Lombardi–embraces and maps surreal connections in the Trump administration to source and deliver surprising information with immediate impact. Fahrenthold’s guidance is practical (cultivate a beat with a daily gleaning routine), personal (learn to tolerate awkwardness), and Promethean (create using what's readily available); I felt the urgent and exhilarating call-to-action that I’ve only experienced in person with a few gifted speakers. His hard-won and complex knowledge is accessible and illustrated with links to his stories and fascinating hand-written notes. For an aspiring journalist, he models a way of seeing and of being in the world that's hard to find in books, newsletters, or MOOC's. Thank you, Newmark J-School for this wonderful resource.

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5 star rating

Great practical insights

Kushlan Sugathapala

You learn a lot of things that you don't learn in more theoretical courses from academia. Working the angles, covering the more 'boring' sectors and coming u...

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You learn a lot of things that you don't learn in more theoretical courses from academia. Working the angles, covering the more 'boring' sectors and coming up with interesting stories out of these areas.

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5 star rating

Amy Tsui

5 star rating

Victor Leal

5 star rating

Introduction

psy Oly

The collective intelligence as source in reporting...amazing!

The collective intelligence as source in reporting...amazing!

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5 star rating

Amanda Ferreira

4 star rating

Donald Takudzwa Nyarota

4 star rating

How I Got Into Journalism - Fahrenthold

Tripp Robbins

I'm a high school journalism teacher (and former journalist, 35 years ago), and I love this. I am going to try showing it to my students to see how it flies ...

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I'm a high school journalism teacher (and former journalist, 35 years ago), and I love this. I am going to try showing it to my students to see how it flies with them...we'll see! The short, bite-size chunks should make it nice to use with them, though. I am not giving it 5 stars because the visuals are pretty simple. I did like the part where it showed some of his notes from his Trump donations story, for example. More relevant, interesting visuals would be great.

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4 star rating

Good - but can be improved!

Henna Choudhary

I believe this course was extremely thorough in execution and informative for those wishing to pursue investigative journalism; however, I believe several im...

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I believe this course was extremely thorough in execution and informative for those wishing to pursue investigative journalism; however, I believe several improvements can be made to make each lesson/segment more cohesive and captivate the viewer's attention.

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0 star rating

The Power of Investigative Journalism

Sinafi Omanga

The reason, impacts and the extent of stories that is not always on the surface of stories. A journalist has to dig it out and deconstruct it for the audienc...

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The reason, impacts and the extent of stories that is not always on the surface of stories. A journalist has to dig it out and deconstruct it for the audience. Breaking down complexities and illuminating culprits hiding in dark corners. Amplifying the voices of the marginalised too.

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0 star rating

Great!

Leslie Ladowski

Very interesting. Good to share with my students.

Very interesting. Good to share with my students.

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