ENG1151 Fall 2023

Weeks 9-10: The History and Aims of Investigative Reporting


I’m recommending the above event for those interested in issues relating to New York and Brooklyn.

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We’re heading into the final 6 weeks of the course, so be sure to check your mid-term grades (Pass, Needs Improvement) in this and all your classes.

As we continue with the topic of press freedom, I want to introduce to you the history and aims of investigative journalism in the US.

 Investigative Journalism (an essential component of the “fourth estate”) is vital to our democracy which can only happen in a society that values press freedom, open government (and access to its records), and respect for the media.

Its origins in the United States dates back to Ida B. Wells exposure of southern lynching in the 1890s and the “muckrakers” of the early 1900s, like Ida M. Tarbell who exposed the corruption and monopolization antics of the Standard Oil company in 1904. 

Here is an interesting timeline of important examples of investigative reporting.

On this list is the important investigative work of two journalists (Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein) who broke the Nixon Watergate scandal in the 1970s, leading to President Nixon’s impeachment.

More recent is the investigation of Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein, brought down by New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey in 2017. These reporters exposed Weinstein for a long history of allegations of sexual assault and harassment of women in the industry.

Two extraordinary films capture the stories behind these two momentous investigations.

All the President’s Men (starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman) [1976] and She Said (starring Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan) directed by Maria Schrader, which takes aim at Weinstein and the #MeToo movement that followed.

Post Assignment (Due: Monday, Nov. 20). As you continue working on your own OpEd pieces, I ask that you watch ONE of these films and comment on what you learned and found most compelling about the film.

All the President’s Men

She Said

If you cannot watch one of these films for any reason, let me know and I can help you find a good free alternative.

Please also continue to email me your OpEd topics. I am available on zoom on Tuesdays (3-5 pm) to brainstorm your topic. The final version is due Wed., Nov. 22, but try to upload a draft before then (so I can review it).

Upload your OpEd Assignment: HERE

Tips and Directions for the OpEd Assignment

22 Comments

  1. Christopher Willis

    I enjoyed watching the movie “She Said.” It was informative as to how Non-Disclosure Agreements can be used in negative ways. I found it interesting how journalists can contact people reasonably quickly about something that happened years ago. It shows how incredible journalist’s research skills are. What I found compelling about the film was that the journalists were able to inspire three women whom Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted to overcome their fear and use their names and include their statements in a journal article to get released to the public. After they spoke out, within one month, 82 women accused Weinstein of sexual assault.

    Hearing the hotel recording with Weinstein and one of the women was disturbing. Imagine how uncomfortable the situation must have been for the woman to go back into a room with Weinstein after she was previously groped. Even after admitting to touching her breast (“ I am used to that),” the recording wasn’t enough evidence. Was it because he knew someone at the District Attorney’s office? It also sheds light on what young aspiring actresses may face today in movie/television productions. 

  2. Edmond Lee

      After watching the movie “All the President’s Men” I found out how difficult it was for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to reveal the truth on how the Nixon administration broke into Watergate to steal documents and bug the room. This was important because it showed how reporters had a great responsibility to report the truth and have the government be accountable for their actions. This was all possible because of their source, Deep Throat. These reporters wanted to get the truth out to the public without putting their source at risk. The most compelling thing about this film is watching these reporters uncover the truth and helping keep the government in check for when they mess up. This helped show people that not even the government is safe from its own actions.

  3. Christine

    The film “All the president’s men” explores the complexities of the Watergate affair, a pivotal period in the political history of the United States. I found it interesting on how It reveals the intricate network of criminal activity, cover-ups, and official corruption, offering a profound comprehension of the scandal’s importance.The film provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse at investigative reporting and the commitment needed to unearth a significant political scandal. It emphasizes how crucial careful investigation, sourcing, and fact-checking are to journalism. Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford, among others, give outstanding performances as the real-life journalists they represent in the movie. Their acting adds to the authenticity and gravity of the movie. Overall, the film provides an engaging examination of the relationship between politics, journalism, and power, which makes for an interesting and thought-provoking cinematic experience.

  4. Elan Gan

    After watching the movie,” All Presidents Men” I was informed of the struggle and the conflicts that Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein experienced. The whole plot of this film was very interesting, one day a security guard by the name of Frank Wills was walking down the Watergate complex and he by accident saw a door bolt with tape all over it so the door doesn’t lock. He realizes that this is not just a coincidence, he starts thinking and realizes that this is a robbery. He immediately calls the police and from there the film’s key points occur. When the police came they arrested five men and some even included former CIA agents who carried bugging equipment. Skipping to the aftermath of the film, I think the events that occured in this film was very important to journalists and the importance they have on news articles we read or hear from on the news. Even Though we were told about this famous robbery from this film, the first person eye witness perspective from Frank Wills himself, gave us a clear perspective on what happened that night, what he felt about his job, and future actions in his life that he committed and why. This makes these history events even more powerful and interesting for the reader to listen and understand. One of the exciting moments in this film was when Woodward and Bernstein were told to continue their investigation even after the post editor didn’t know about how dangerous they can be.

  5. Cui Zhang

    The film “She Said” talks about the history of gender-based abuse and misconduct. It’s basically highlighting the experiences of women affected by these kinds of issues. This movie overall is very interesting to watch. Something that disturbed me was knowing the total amount of women Mr. Weinstein was being accused of due to his inappropriate “pedophile” criminal behavior. As I watched up to 43:13 the movie mentioned something about women will speak out if they know they’re not the only ones. In my opinion, that’s the right thing to do. Women should be speaking up for themselves when they ever encounter this issue. However, I know for a fact many women won’t have the courage to speak up because they’re afraid more trouble will come after they ever have a chance to. Then comes the disturbing part at 45:02. It’s extremely disgusting knowing that a woman felt extremely uncomfortable in the hotel and the guy (Harvey Weinstein) is just saying things like, don’t make me feel embarrassed, he’s very famous, I won’t do anything to you, I’m used to it when the women ask why he touched her breast and a lot more. Acting like he’s very innocent but in reality, he’s not.

    It’s very disturbing hearing all these knowing that many other women out there in the world have been either sexually abused or assaulted by these kinds of shameful men. As I kept watching the movie, it was heartbreaking seeing and knowing how much sexual misconduct these women had encountered with Mr. Weinstein. Something that caught my attention was at 1:32:43 when Rowena Chiu said to Jodi, that she was young at that time and she was afraid. She couldn’t do anything about it or even tell her family or her own husband. This is all because she was trying to protect her family as an immigrant at all costs which to me is quite understandable. If it’s me, I wouldn’t let my family know either because it would really make them worry and sad.

  6. Odalis Cruz

    I watched the film “She Said” where a New York Times investigation takes place and reporters work together to expose a Hollywood scandal and corrupt system. The film talks about the lives of many women who have experienced sexual harassment under Harvey Weinstein. Many of those women weren’t able to speak out as they would get shut down, Weinstien was a powerful man who would get his way around. Which made it harder for women to speak out with that being said he would convince this woman to sign disclosures. These women were scared to speak out knowing that when they spoke no one seemed to care. In the film, the two reporters did everything in their power to bring this story to light. They wanted the truth to be told. They worked together and gathered as much evidence as possible to make the story come alive. 

    I found the film quite interesting and disturbing at the same time. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like for those women to be living in fear. Seeing how many women were sexually harassed and abused was just so crazy and sad how no one has stepped up and put a stop to Weinstein. Also, the fact that this has been going on since the 90s, and no one has commented about it is even crazier. Hearing these women’s stories was just so sad and especially hearing that tape of the women in the hotel room with him was just so disturbing and sad. In the end, Ashley Judd came forward and was prepared to be a named source in the New York Times article that they were writing, she took a step forward and was tired of hiding she didn’t want to be afraid anymore. When the article was published many more women came up and told their stories. It just took one brave person to tell the truth to get everyone else to come and stop being afraid and tell their story. 

  7. Thierry Prosper

    Certainly! The movie “She Said,” inspired by the investigative work of New York Times journalists Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, delves into the exposure of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Expected to depict the challenges, impact, and broader cultural consequences of their reporting, the film provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the investigative process and the courage needed to bring such stories to light. Starring Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan as dedicated reporters, the movie sheds light on the struggles, traumas, and demanding lifestyle of investigative journalism, offering audiences a realistic portrayal. Notably, the film goes beyond news articles, providing a more detailed perspective on the individuals involved in the Harvey Weinstein cases and encouraging women to speak out against sexual mistreatment. The journalism look everywhere to find whoever was sexually harassed and was determined to solve this case in the most professional ways

    one of the victim was waiting for 25 years we can see in their faces the shame and the pain they went through

    Listening to the narratives of these women was profoundly disheartening, particularly encountering that recording of the women in the hotel room with him, which was both distressing and sorrowful.

  8. Thierry Prosper

    I like watching “She Said”based on the investigations by New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor that exposed allegations of sexual misconduct against Harvey Weinstein.

     The film will likely explore the challenges they faced, the impact of their reporting, and the broader cultural implications of the revelations. It’s expected to provide a behind-the-scenes look at the investigative process and the courage required to bring such stories to the public eye.

    This movie talks about sexualised females at workplaces. And both the leading ladies, Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan pulled off superbly in their roles as reporters for The New York Times, the trauma they faced and hectic lifestyle of being an investigative journalist, giving the audience a glimpse into the real life of what journalism is about and the struggles they faced in getting their job done for oneself as well as the community.

    And what that is so good about this film is that viewers can get to see a more detailed view of the players and those involved in the Harvey Weinstein sexual assaults cases than just reading it in news articles. At the same time it gives a shout out to all females out to go on the record if they faces any sexual mistreatment.

    Listening to the narratives of these women was profoundly disheartening, particularly encountering that recording of the women in the hotel room with him, which was both distressing and sorrowful.

  9. Efaz Kareeb

    I enjoy watching “All the President’s Men” because the film focuses on journalists Carl Bernstein (played by Dustin Hoffman) and Bob Woodward (played by Robert Redford) as they investigate the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex. They piece together a web of corruption that extends to the highest levels of government through a series of anonymous tips, secret meetings with their enigmatic source, and meticulous investigative work. The film focuses on the tireless efforts of Woodward and Bernstein, reporters for The Washington Post, as they pursue leads, sources, and evidence to uncover the truth behind the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex. The narrative is driven by their journalistic tenacity and commitment to uncovering the corruption at the heart of the Nixon administration.

    The film demonstrates the power of a free press in holding those in power accountable, as well as the importance of transparency and accountability in government. It’s a classic film that’s still relevant today in its examination of the role of the media in democracy and the pursuit of truth. The movie not only serves as a compelling historical document of the Watergate scandal, but it also serves as a timeless exploration of journalism’s fundamental principles: truth, integrity, and the pursuit of justice. The film is an engrossing and meticulously crafted cinematic experience that has stayed with audiences, shedding light on the critical role of the Fourth Estate in a democratic society.

  10. Coumba Diallo

    The suspenseful political thriller “All the President’s Men,” helmed by Alan J. Pakula, explores the investigative journalism of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward as they unearth the Watergate crisis that forces President Richard Nixon to resign. This cinematic classic is a potent illustration of the critical role that the press plays in preserving democracy in addition to offering a gripping tale of political intrigue and corruption. The movie highlights the changing role of women in the workplace and provides a nuanced perspective on the difficulties experienced by journalists in that age from the viewpoint of women. As a woman reading this historical account, it makes me think about the life-changing power of committed reporting and emphasizes the crucial roles that women have had in determining the course of media and social transformation.

  11. Gabriel

    As I watched the film “All the President’s Men”, there were quite a few points that stood out to me that caught my attention. One main point being the trust between Woodward and Bernstein, as they received their information and sources from an anonymous informant, who kept their identity a secret throughout as they continued receiving information and sources. With the identity of the informant being hidden, this would also connect to the fact whether or not the sources received are credible and trustworthy, leading into the practice of fact checking. This is really important for any journalist because of how easy it is to provide false or inaccurate information that can lead to an untrustworthy source only causing more harm than good. The public needs to hear information that is relevant and trustworthy in order to spread a message of changes depending on the context of the sources being provided. Having strong and credible sources as well may cause a change of beliefs, where people would demand for a change, big or small based on what the reporters are trying to reveal or expose. The film highlights the expectations and practices a journalist should take to maximize their efficiency on delivering a trustworthy, credible and accurate source of information.

  12. QiTing

    After watching the film named “She said”, I feel upset, mad, and supportive of the characters. This film type is violence, alcohol use, foul language, and sexual content. I feel upset and mad because the women had bad experiences in sexual harassment, but powerless against to resist because of afraid. They don’t speak out because they will worry and get revenge in Weinstein’s status and power. I feel supportive because the reporters help them and support them to support to speak out the facts and the bad things happen on them. And to showing women don’t have to be afraid and save more victims. 

  13. Mamadou

    I am grateful to have watched the movie “She Said”. Not only was it powerful but it shed light on the very controversies that pollute our justice systems, the willing to speak out vs censorship. And I truly believe that the levels of censorship displayed in the real world is the very deterrent in America. The movie expounds upon the women, Megan Twohey and Jodi Kanter, taking a stand for what they believe is right when investigating through the allegations brought across from Harvey Weinstein.

    Amongst the many different challenges they have had to encounter, the act of speaking out was probably one of the biggest. These women that were sexually harassed are afraid to speak out because they don’t know what’s truly coming to them if they do. Part of speaking up is what gets your voice heard but unfortunately with cases that present themselves with extremity, you’re bound to consider all of these options to stay safe. Towards the end of the movie, it made me happy knowing that Megan and Jodi’s story was published and exposed on the NYTimes for everyone to witness the allegations against Weinstein. It also takes into account the reality of this case at hand because this is based off a true event. Harvey Weinstein is a convicted sex offender and is behind bars because of his inhumane actions. Part of what made me happy to see the ending was due to the fact that these girls did something that most wouldn’t do to protect their own image. Excellent.

  14. Sphear Forde

    “All the President’s Men” is a great political thriller film.It follows the story of Washington Post reporters, Bernstein and Woodward as they uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that led to President Nixon’s resignation.The film also highlights the First Amendment and freedom of the press in protecting democracy and ensuring that the government is held accountable to the people.I found the film particularly interesting because it offers insights into the journalistic process and the hard work that goes into investigative reporting. While investigating the Watergate scandal Bernstein and Woodward  were under  pressure to meet deadlines, verify sources and the risk of retaliation from those in power. Journalists today face similar challenges, including the pressure to meet deadlines, verify sources, and the risk of retaliation from those in power. However, with the development of  new technologies journalists have access to resources that can aid them in their investigations. 

  15. Cindy

    I didn’t know about the film “She said” until now and it was hard to watch because the pursuit for justice came a long way. It was hard to watch that many women suffer in silence for years. I’m grateful that the journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey were able to gather and dig deep for information and collect as much evidence exposing the appalling history of sexual abuse and harassment perpetrated by influential Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. I still can’t believe that there were non-disclosure agreements that were made and other powerful connections that were shielding and covering for horrible acts of Harvey Weinstein. It’s unimaginable how challenging it must have been for these women to remain silent out of fear, feeling powerless against Weinstein’s influence. Speaking out publicly requires immense courage, and their bravery not only empowers others to come forward but also sheds light on the magnitude of this issue.

  16. mareefa

    From the movie “She Said,” can learn how very brave it is to go up against powerful systems and how important investigative news is for making social change. It shows how important journalists are as watchdogs for society and how their hard work and commitment to the truth have an effect. The movie shows how strong the human spirit is and how powerful it is for people to speak together, especially when things are hard. It also shows how coming out can help bring about healing and change by showing how important it is to listen to and believe survivors’ stories. “She Said” also serves as a lesson of how important it is to be responsible and how systems need to change to stop and deal with abuse and harassment. It shows how important it is to understand others, stick together, and keep fighting for justice even when things get hard.

  17. Kiana Rodnell

    “She Said” is a film that provides an in-depth look at the investigative process and courage required to bring stories of sexual misconduct to the public eye. The film explores the challenges faced by journalists, the impact of their reporting, and the cultural implications of revelations. The leading ladies, Carey Mulligan, and Zoe Kazan, portray the trauma and hectic lifestyle of investigative journalists, giving viewers a glimpse into the real life of journalism. The film also encourages females to report any sexual mistreatment and highlights the incredible research skills of journalists. The film also highlights the inspiring story of three women who were sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein, inspiring them to use their names and statements in a journal article to get released to the public. Within one month, 82 women accused Weinstein of sexual assault, highlighting the widespread sexual misconduct faced by women worldwide. The film is heartbreaking, as it highlights the importance of reporting and the courage required to bring such stories to the public eye.  I also feel like “She Said” is a powerful movie that sheds light on the controversies surrounding justice systems and the role of censorship in deterring women from speaking out. The movie follows Megan Twohey and Jodi Kanter, who investigate allegations against Harvey Weinstein. The women face numerous challenges, including fear of facing consequences if they speak out. The movie highlights the importance of speaking out and the NYTimes’ exposure of their story, which is based on a true event. Harvey Weinstein is a convicted sex offender and is currently behind bars due to his inhumane actions. The ending is a testament to the courage and courage of these women in protecting their image.

  18. Richard Morales

    After watching the movie “All the President’s Men” it tells the story of investigative reporting by The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, which was instrumental in revealing the Watergate scandal and finally forced President Richard Nixon to resign. The Democratic National Committee’s 1972 break-in at the Watergate office complex serves as the opening scene of the movie. At first, the story seems ordinary enough, but Woodward is tasked with reporting on the court cases relating to the break-in. He soon forms a partnership with Carl Bernstein, and the two of them begin to look for clues and peculiar that point to the possibility that the break-in is a component of a bigger political plot. In the movie I learned that through their investigation, Woodward and Bernstein find several government sources as well as the Committee to Re-elect the President. They deal with a lot of difficulties and problems, such as resistance from public servants, pressure, and mistrust from peers. Still, they pursue the leads tenaciously, frequently depending on tips from an unidentified source known only as “Deep Throat.”

    Woodward and Bernstein discover a complex web of illegal activities as they investigate more, including attempts to undermine political rivals, wiretapping, and violations of campaign financing laws. The Nixon administration, which rejects the pair’s reporting as unfounded, as well as their editors at The Washington Post are constant sources of pressure and criticism. The thought I found most compelling about the film is as Woodward and Bernstein get closer to the truth, the suspense increases and their investigation turns into a race against the clock. The movie emphasizes the difficulties and dangers of investigative reporting while highlighting the determination needed to find and document political wrongdoing at the highest governmental levels. Eventually, a number of pieces that reveal the Watergate scandal and its cover-up are the result of their reporting. Following the leaks, there were Senate hearings, court cases, and, in the end, President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974.

  19. kevin halley

    After watching the film, “She said” by author Rebecca Lenkiewicz I thoroughly did not like the film at all actually. I found the way that it was executed to be very confusing and derivative of the purpose of the film by making it harder to engage with. I say this because it was hard to understand what was going on in the plot while simultaneously having to figure out what is going on in the film. But i also learned that in between each article that is written there could be days or years worth of research in the making to create one piece. For example in the film it seems as though the main character had three children and still did not have a solid lead in order to start the article on sexual harassment and rape in the workplace surrounding Harvey Weinstein. I also learned that NDA’s are used heavily and on top of sexual harassment is another reason as to why many people do not come forward with such allegations and their truths.

  20. Riley Gatto

    The movie “She Said” has been on my list to watch ever since I saw the trailer when it was first released, so I was very excited to finally sit down and give it a chance. I was mesmerized and horrified at the same time. Based off of a true story, two reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey have to dig deep in order to uncover an ultra-successful wealthy powerful man’s abusive past and support the survivors he harmed. It really showed me how much work journalists and reporters have to put in to tell their stories as accurately as possible. They have to persevere to not only find all of the correct elements but also battle against sexism, racism, xenophobia, etc. that prevents important stories from being told. They sometimes have to fight society to unearth what the powerful would like to keep quiet. I had no idea that NDAs were so legitimate and binding and could be such a powerful weapon to keep people who have been abused silent. The movie “She Said” was one of the best movies I’ve seen that have actually showcased the struggles reporters go through to tell their stories and also proves how the struggle is worth it and doing this hard work could be life-saving and life-changing.

  21. Kobe

    The film “She Said” is a film about two journalists from the New York Times who bring down a Hollywood film producer named Harvey Weinstein due to the crimes that he committed such as sexual assault and harassment towards women. When watching this film something I found interesting was the process of a journalist when creating a paper. In other words the time, research, and obstacles they have to face when creating the article. Also, I was able to analyze that it was a group effort, with one another helping each other build confidence. They were able to gather different ideas and resources to help bring the story to light.

  22. Aaron Gan

    After watching the movie “All the President’s Men” the narrative starts with the arrest of five men in 1972 for breaking into the DNC headquarters located in the Watergate office building in Washington, D.C. After being tasked with reporting the story, Bernstein and Woodward quickly discovered a slew of illicit actions, including attempts to conceal the break-in and the participation of senior Nixon administration officials. Through a mix of relentless investigative work, key source interviews, and anonymous tips, the journalists were able to link the break-in to a larger network of political corruption and espionage. In their quest for the truth, the reporters encountered many difficulties and roadblocks, including attempts to discredit their reporting and threats to their personal safety.Eventually, the pattern of power abuse, obstruction of justice, and political malfeasance that reached the highest echelons of government was exposed by their reporting. The Watergate crisis was exposed thanks in large part to investigative reporting, which also prompted congressional inquiries, the resignations of a number of high-ranking individuals, and President Nixon’s resignation in 1974.

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