Teaching investigative journalism is a core mission of The Journalism School. Some of the best investigative journalists in the country teach at Columbia and many other professors use investigative techniques in courses not explicitly labeled with the “I” word.
In 2006, the Journalism School expanded and consolidated its investigative offerings by establishing the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.
The Center administers an exclusive track for students who want to specialize in investigative journalism. Fifteen to 18 students are selected for the Stabile program every year. In addition, we have high-level investigative courses for those not enrolled in the program. These students take shorter, but just-as-intense, courses in investigative skills and techniques.
The Stabile Center is funded by a generous endowment from Toni Stabile, an investigative reporter in the 1960s and ‘70s, whose pioneering work uncovered the harm being done to consumers by the then completely mysterious and unregulated personal-care products industry. Toni Stabile’s three books and numerous articles in wide-circulation magazines put these issues on the national agenda, resulting in congressional hearings and tighter regulation.
The Stabile Center administers the Stabile Investigative Project Fund, which supports the projects that its students work on during the school year. The Fund supports students even after graduation so they can complete their reporting projects for publication.
From 2007 to 2012, 30 Stabile student projects were published or aired in outlets like The New York Times, USA Today, National Public Radio and PBS. In addition, two student projects have been published as book-length investigations and one as an e-book. Student projects supported by the Stabile Center have gone on to win a Polk Award, a Sigma Delta Chi Award and citations from the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism and the IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors) Awards.
Some of the student stories have had dramatic impact, including the reversal of government policy, investigations of erring officials, and in one case, inspired new legislation by the U.S Congress.
The Stabile Center strives be part of the innovation and experimentation that is taking place in investigative reporting. Its students have collaborated on projects with a range of news organizations: They’ve done crowdsourcing with the Huffington Post Investigative Fund, mapped methadone prescriptions with The New York Times and co-published an investigation with Pro Publica and The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Stabile students have also done cross-border investigations, including a class project on the shady deals of Chinese company in Africa, which was published in Beijing by the Chinese magazine Caixin. A student project on a mysterious epidemic of kidney disease that is killing thousands of farm workers worldwide was published in the U.S. and Central America.
Stabile alumni are in the top newsrooms in the country and overseas. Many of them are in full-time investigative reporting positions in newspapers, TV networks and wire agencies as well as the newer investigative reporting nonprofits.