Write an essay using the following questions as your pivot, reflecting the research you did, whether what I listed or beyond:
– Why is CORA important? 
– There is no single avenue to pursue an Open Records request. How would you determine which agency or office to approach? 
– How reliant should you be on CORA? In other words, to what extent and how would you supplement information gathered via CORA? 
– Can you just cite it as a law without officially bringing it into play? (They will know you’ll get the information, anyway.) 
– There are official open-records exceptions under the law. How compliant should you be in accepting claims that what you’re asking for falls into those categories?
– Can you allow human sympathy to affect your approach? Do you back off if someone might be “hurt” by the public disclosure of information?
– If possible, find examples of Colorado media coverage that brought CORA principles into play, whether the journalists actually mentioned CORA or otherwise. (For example, “…in documents obtained by 9News…”
Please do NOT just drop the questions into your text and answer them in order. This is not a quiz. Show some ingenuity in putting together a piece about CORA and how it might fit into your investigative reporting.


Write an assessment of the role in American journalism of the Washington Post coverage of the Watergate Scandal. Suggested length: 800 to 1,000 words, but you can go longer or shorter. Why is it still relevant a half-century later? What can you, as young journalists, learn from it? Or given much excellent and impactful investigative work we see every day in the contemporary marketplace involving multiple platforms, is this get-off-my-lawn oversentimentality from your cranky elders, whether in the journalism world or otherwise?
For the sake of simplicity, I’ll use the generic term “All the President’s Men” to include:
–The Post’s coverage of the scandal itself, mainly the work of reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. The break-in at the Democratic Party national headquarters in the Watergate complex took place on June 17, 1972.
–Bernstein and Woodward’s books All the President’s Men, published in June 1974, and The Final Days, essentially a sequel, published in May 1976. Context: Richard Nixon resigned the presidency in August 1974 — two months after All the President’s Men hit the bookstores. Also, the reporting and writing methodology of The Final Days (it mostly was Woodward’s work) was considered a deviation from the standards of All The President’s Men. In my opinion, that has been underplayed in the discussion of the investigative reporting involved in the projects.
— The April 1976 film “All the President’s Men,” directed by Alan J. Pakula, with the adapted screenplay by William Goldman, and with Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman and Jason Robards in the leads.
I’m actually assuming many of you, as young and idealistic journalists, already have seen the movie and perhaps also read the book. Maybe not. But the movie was especially influential. Again, there’s a generation of journalists, some still working, for whom this was an important part of their decisions to go into the business.
If we were meeting in a classroom twice a week, I’d have made the book a required text and would show the complete movie in two sessions. I’ll suggest — not require — that you acquire the book and watch the full movie, whether because of this specific assignment or otherwise. Good cheap used copies of the book are all over the place online and a new 50th Anniversary (of the break-in) paperback edition came out in 2022. I bought it at Barnes and Noble.
If it’s not realistic for you to read the book and watch the movie, there’s a lot on the web about this material and offshoots. You can find it pretty easily and I’ve come across a lot that I either had forgotten about or didn’t know. Below, I’ve included links to pivotal scenes from the movie, starting with the “trailer.”
I found jarring the depiction of the newsroom, which was a faithful reproduction of the Washington Post newsroom, and also such antiquities as typewriters and rotary dial phones; and the apparent lack of self-consciousness about not recording interviews and relying on memory or handwritten notes. I believe the technology to record phone interviews was imminent, and my memory is that computer terminals were in newsrooms very soon after this, also. I first walked into the Rocky Mountain News newsroom as a college sophomore in late 1974.


IMDB, including original trailer
Links to an external site.

My favorite scene
Clip: “You’re both on the story”
Links to an external site.
Woodward and Bernstein partnership is born. Great punchline from Harry Rosenfeld, assistant managing editor for metropolitan news at the Post, played by Jack Warden.

Clip: Count to 10
Links to an external site.
Woodward and Bernstein meeting with editors, then one of their few screw-ups
Clip: People’s Lives are in Danger
Links to an external site.

Clip: “Follow the Money.”
Links to an external site.
Woodward with Deep Throat
Clip: Woodward following the money
Links to an external site.
How a check made it into the account of a Watergate burglar
Clip: Campaign funds scene
Links to an external site.
Woodward makes another pivotal discovery

Clip: “I hate trusting Anybody”
Links to an external site.
Bradlee meeting with Woodward and Bernstein after John Mitchell profanely threatens Post Publisher Katherine Graham

Clip: “Somebody Got to Her”
Links to an external site.

Clip: People Sure are Worried
Links to an external site.

PBS Saturday Night at the Movies feature, leading up to showing the film
Links to an external site.
(10 minutes)
Interesting material about Bernstein not being particularly cooperative with screenwriter Goldman.

How to rent or buy the full movie
Links to an external site.


Denver Investigative Reporters. Due Friday, March 8, 6.m. Explore, assess, critique and write about Investigative Reporting in the Denver media — one outlet or, preferably, several or all. Are they any good? Who’s the best? Why? Cite specific examples of the good and bad. From there, I’m leaving this fairly open-ended and you can make of it what you make of it. Put effort, thought and ingenuity into it. You’d likely be tracking the outlets’ investigative work mostly online through station web sites. One catch will be the paywalls for the Denver Post and Denver Gazette, so do what you can. (I could make the case that as journalists, you probably should be subscribing to one or both, anyway, under the bargain introductory rates usually available, but won’t enforce that as mandatory.) You can critique the next 11 days or also go back farther to their body of work. Suggested length: 800 to 1,500 words.
Here are the outlets and their investigative reporters:
Links to an external site.
Jeremy Jojola
Links to an external site.
, Steve Staeger
Channel 7
Tony Kovaleski
Links to an external site.
Channel 4
Brian Maass
Links to an external site.

The Investigators
Channel 31
Problem Solvers
Rob Low
Links to an external site.

Shaul Turner
Links to an external site.
Colorado Watch
Links to an external site.

Denver Gazette’s Investigative Team
Denver Post
Links to an external site.


Theoretical. Think of this as a movie “based on a true story.” But it’s a composite that reflects reality.
You’ve been hired as a reporter for the Delford Dispatch in Delford, Iowa.
The city’s population is 500,000. The metropolitan area’s population is 750,000. That’s roughly the same as Colorado Springs.
This is your second job after graduating. Your first was at a small paper and its web site in Montana. You did well there and are excited about your apparent advancement. You caught yourself dreaming about walking into the Washington Post newsroom in a few years.
Through several generations, the Delford Dispatch was independent and owned by the area’s Arnold family. Unfortunately, the family five years ago sold out to the Hamilton Group, a mass-media holding company that controls roughly 50 U.S. newspapers. It is widely criticized for its ruthless bleeding of newspapers and profits, including an aggressive paring of staffs and slashing of newsroom budgets.
You’re not in Delford long before you realize the public has noticed all of that and that the Dispatch’s reputation has suffered locally.
“You work for the Dispatch?” says your landlord. “What the hell has happened there?”
After many voluntary and involuntary departures of staffers, including through buyouts, the Dispatch has hired a few younger writers — at lower salaries than for their predecessors — to make the newsroom appear more like a newsroom and less like a ghost town. As you understand it, there once were 15 copy editors and page designers in the building. That’s history. It alarms you that the paper is designed and edited in the chain’s universal newsoom in Atlanta, making the copy deadline for the print paper in Delford an aggravating 2 p.m. It makes the emphasis on the paper’s web site even more important.
In the hiring process, editors were frank. You’re one of only three newsroom general reporters, expected to cover virtually the entire news scene in the Delford area. County courts. Public school districts. Delford State University. The massive Delford Meat-Packing Plant. The Arnold Performing Arts Center, with concerts and Broadway road shows.
You’re also close enough to the State Capitol in Des Moines that you’re sent there frequently to cover the state legislature from the Delford angle. You crank out both news stories and columns. You find it hard to believe that there was a time newspaper writers just wrote and had tightly defined beats — such as “education.” You write, shoot video, take photos when the staff photographer can’t be there and you post frequently on social media. About everything. Anything.
You’re spread thin, but despite all this, you love the job. It’s energizing, you’re prideful about your versatility, and as much as you respect veteran reporters who preceded you, the page must be turned.
OK, that’s a classroom “lecture.” That’s the real world. In 2024. Not everywhere. But as a composite, it’s valid.
Here’s the Investigative Reporting “Assignment” that goes with it.
“ASSIGNMENT”: You’re a reporter in Delford, Iowa. A theoretical exercise. Due Tuesday, April 2, 6 p.m.
Compose an essay telling me:
Based on the above about Delford, from the Investigative Reporting angle:
— How would you go about making contacts in the community?
— Whom would you prioritize?
— How aggressively would you seek to be a watchdog, making frequent public records requests and pushing for following open meetings laws? Is there time for that or do you just wait for someone to tell you about out-of-line behavior?
— If someone tells you, without getting specific, that you should check into what’s going on with the Delford School Board (or any of the other public entities), what’s your next step? Or if you get wind of issues at the Delford Meat-Packing Plant, a private entity and major supplier of meat products nationally that is a major component in the Delford economy? I’ve been to a meat-packing plant. You don’t want to see what goes on there. But if it shuts down because of your or anyone else’s reporting, it’s destructive to the local economy.)

Background: Please read the following. This isn’t as daunting as it looks.
No Notoriety
Links to an external site.
9News story on No Notoriety and differences in coverage between Columbine and Aurora theater shootings coverage
Links to an external site.
USA Today’s quibbles with No Notoriety approach
Links to an external site.
My 2024 interview with Columbine principal Frank DeAngelis
Links to an external site.
Adapted excerpt from my 2009 book project collaboration with “Columbine’s Boy in the Window”
Links to an external site.
My commentary on the lessons of Columbine that were forgotten at Uvalde
Links to an external site.
Or anything else you come across about the issues involved.
Assignment: This is not meant to be an extensive assignment, but more of a reflection. In my opinion — and I said this from the start — the initial Columbine coverage unfortunately and disgustingly too often was a fixation on the killers and their warped motives and gave relatively short shrift to the 13 murder victims. The killers made it clear, most notably on the infamous “Basement Tapes” discovered after their deaths, that they sought fame and notoriety, and that’s what they got. One killer’s mother even got a book deal. I realize this is tricky issue involving prioritization, and nobody was arguing for the exclusion of the victims’ stories from the coverage, but I believe “we” — the media — learned from the experience. Local media bragged about winning awards for their Columbine coverage (and also the Aurora theater shootings coverage), and that also was unfortunate in the sense that too many awards require tragedies to cover.
OK, I’ve said too much. I should leave it vague and let you draw and express your own opinions. Please do that. I asked you to be blunt with me on the subpoena / deposition assignment earlier, and I’m asking the same now. This could be like round-table discussions in an office, with give and take in the marketplace of ideas. As an investigative reporter in the wake of tragedy, you likely would be part of a team effort and could divide up responsibilities. But in general, how conscious should the media (including you) be of downplaying the killers and emphasizing the victims? Is that responsible or irresponsible journalism? It has “worked” to an extent. I couldn’t even tell you the name of the Aurora theater killer’s name for a million dollars.
Again, I’m giving you a lot of freedom to take this where it and you want to go. I do not expect a deeply researched, scholarly treatise, but a reaction. I’m trying to provoke thought and have you write about a challenge you might face if you become an investigative journalist.


You don’t need to make this a deeply-researched and lengthy treatise. I’ll be looking for something in the range of 250 to 500 words. Tell me what your personal standards would be for allowing a quoted source to remain anonymous and how you would describe why that anonymity was requested and granted? (Case-by-case circumstances and editors’ input would be involved, of course.) What boxes do you have to check off before you’ll write the story that way? For one quoted or paraphrased source or more?
I’m assuming you’ve seen or even experienced the various ways to describe the source and perhaps explain why he or she is remaining anonymous. These stories are a tad bit old, but still are pertinent as other outlets — the Bangor Daily News and Washington Post — take a look at New York Times policies. I hope the Post link will work.
Links to an external site.
Links to an external site.
(Plus AP Stylebook reading on anonymous sources, part of this week’s assigned readings.)
How would you go about deciding how to describe the reason the source has been allowed to remain anonymous?
Between us, largely thanks to social media, the deterioration of standards has been glaring in recent years. “…a source” or “an NBA source” or “per source” all are deemed good enough, even at reputable outlets. I have worked with people who make reasonable guesses and cite “a source.

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