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Business, Politics & Society

Introduction

Bob Woodward

Lesson time 6:19 min

Meet your new instructor: Bob Woodward. In this chapter, Bob underscores the vital role of journalism today. He also shares his belief that there are no boundaries to searching for what he calls "the best obtainable version of the truth."

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Bob Woodward
Teaches Investigative Journalism
In 24 lessons, learn how to uncover the truth from the greatest journalist of our time.
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Everyone has their own version of the truth. But there are facts. There is reality. And as a reporter, you can come up with the best obtainable version of the truth. the climate, whether the media is revered or reviled, we should and must persist. The story has gone way beyond what we ever really wrote and predicted or had any notion of. I think anyone can be a journalist. I think we are journalists sometimes without knowing it. And that is we get data. We ask about it. We test it. And we talk to other people about it. This is the living business of assessing information. In a sense, we're all whistleblowers, aren't we? That we see things we don't like, and we talk and we complain. The sister who sees her brother doing something he's not supposed to do goes to Mom or Dad and blows the whistle. That's journalism. My concept of this master class is to use dozens and dozens of examples of experience I've had over 46 years, the things that worked, the things, the painful things that didn't work. So there are lessons about the importance of human sources of interviewing another human being, whatever it might be on, and techniques to demonstrate to them that you're really listening, that accompanies the effort to get written notes or documents or vivid evidence that something happened, and then to go have experiences or go to the scene to see if that validates what you obtained from human sources and the documents. That best obtainable version of that truth takes priority over everything. Political party takes priority often, even having the same personal life. Because if you're going to practice journalism, there are going to be periods of intensity when you are not just going to be working on the story. You're going to be living the story. The public often gets to just see the journalists shouting questions at the press secretary, either in the mayor's office or in the White House or in the Pentagon. And it's not a pretty picture of journalists. And it's kind of everyone's got their hand in the air, and they're screaming. And that isn't journalism. Journalism is trying to take and understand something in a comprehensive way. What is surprising about journalism, you wake up in the morning or go to the office, and the air is so often electric. Look what happened, what went on. Somebody just came up here an hour ago and told me. You won't believe what happened. That happens in the news room all the time. You're never really, as a journalist, in a situation where you can't really try to find out something, even if it's private, even if it's highly classified. The biggest secrets in the US government, the biggest secrets that people have, journalists may go make the inquiry because there is such concentration of power in government, particularly in the presidency. But the real important liberation for journalists, I think, is the S...


Find the real story

Bob Woodward was just 29 when he changed a nation. His Watergate reporting with Carl Bernstein helped expose the corruption of the Nixon presidency. Two Pulitzer Prizes and nineteen best-selling books later, the legendary journalist is teaching his first-ever online class for anyone who wants to find the truth. Learn to investigate a story, interview sources, and understand how the news is written. The next history-making story might be yours.



Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

As a reference librarian for a LAPL, it is critical that I provide accurate information. Mr. Woodward shared, the good, the bad, and the ugly of investigative journalism.

How to gather information that may lead to the truth. Who to interview & how to maintain integrity in all you do.

Love! Amazing! Elegant! So much knowlege and insight. I thrive on unearthing those ah ha moments and had one like every... few minutes :)

What an incredible privilege to be able to sit with Bob Woodward for that period, and hear his heartfelt wisdom and excellent teaching face to face.


Comments

A fellow student

Democracy Dies in Darkness is a great motto for WaPo because it is full darkness and that darkness is killing democracy. Or trying to.

A fellow student

The Supreme Court gets a LOT wrong and they got Ellsberg wrong, or Pentagon Papers. First, you're not held accountable, and the court knows this very well. Second, by the time you've pretended you're doing "journalism" and just printed all the papers wholesale, because you believe it backs up your political view, it's already done a lot of damage. It's like Vindman and his buddies exposing all kinds of information about Ukraine to help attack Trump, or like Michael Morell saying on national television that the U.S. is incapable of finding nuclear sites in North Korea, these involve classified information that undermine national security, and WORLD security. So Bob is sophomoric here. Makes me wonder exactly what did he do with Nixon. He uncovered a cover-up and wrecked the government (I was in Vietnam theatre at the time reading Stars and Stripes), destroyed a good man (who was getting a lot of Dilantin for some reason). Basically his story wasn't making sense and he and Bernstein came up with an explanation that delighted the Democrats and ruined the presidency basically forever.

A fellow student

So I'm an experienced journalist. I actually, when attending a reception for AAJA at WaPo's headquarters was held up in the elevator while Bob called out David Broder in the hallway with a question. But I strongly disagree with him that press conferences where hands are in the air aren't journalism. Where I do agree is that the fake news are not capable of processing that. They're trying to get a quote for their news outlet, more often than not totally unrelated to the purpose of the press conference. The worst part is, out of the entire STORY (because there is a story, Bob) they just write an angle they think will amuse their readership or viewership, audience, whatever. So they're entirely faithless to the story and so we are left with a vacuum. Filling that vacuum IS journalism.

A fellow student

What Bob is leaving out here is any notion of what the story IS. So he's said there's "data" and you check it out, you validate it, you make it the most vividly supported version. But version of what? And this is the shallow aimless fake news journalism which has been creating it's own purpose (pack journalism) and undoing its purpose in the First Amendment. Just saying.

A fellow student

We all need to be journalists now especially with the kind of governments we have here in the UK and the USA.

Salma S.

Sometimes we don't need to explain everything, just feel it and enjoy the lesson

John P.

When a sister tells on her brother: that's journalism. Is it? Perhaps it is revenge, resentment, or envy; perhaps a need for recognition, or a way to feel important. I like how Mr. Woodward says that although everyone has a different story to tell, the facts matter; fact finding and sharing is for me what makes good journalism almost an end in itself. Here are the facts: make what you will. (Especially when those facts are not personally palatable!)

Joel Kirk R.

He tells me ANYONE can be a Journalist... We are all whistleblowers! OK! I'm ready to believe that Bob!

Tanja B.

I think it is great to learn from such experienced voices in these unquiet times.

Dwight H.

This is my intro remark for Mr. Woodward's class Looking at the double standards of Sky and Chris Hughes. Two different tones from the Hughes associated with the Shameful Whore letter and how the Hughes wanted Jodi and Travis together but later on said that they didn't want them together. http://thetroublewithjustice.com/2014/06/25/the-infamous-trial-of-candy-crush/ In the spot from the article below during the trial both Hughes had this too say about Travis and Jodi. They realized she was not good for his bottom line. They said on the radio that Travis was not making as much money since he was dating Jodi and that he was neglecting his business. If they depended on him for making money for their PPL business, they had to get rid of her. Here is an email prior to the death of Travis where Sky tells Travis the following about Jodi. "Know that I would love to see you marry Jodi, but just because you have never seen her cry, doesn't mean she hasn't been crying," she wrote. "SHE LOVES YOU, so much that she is afraid that bringing up anything that is bothering her or letting you know she doesn't think you are 'perfect' would ruin all chances to be with you." Here is the Shameful Whore letter supposedly written by Jodi and sent too Lisa Andrews. If we break down the structure of the two parts the first part sounds the exact same mannerism of Chris and Sky Hughes on the radio regarding Travis not having anything to do with Jodi. The second part is more compassionate sounding like Sky's letter too Travis expressing how much Jodi loved Travis and how Travis' future would be perfect being married to Jodi. “You are a shameful whore. Your Heavenly Father must be deeply ashamed of the whoredoms you’ve committed with that insidious man. If you let him stay in your bed one more time or even sleep under the same roof as him, you will be giving the appearance of evil. You are driving away the Holy Ghost, and you are wasting your time. You are also compromising your salvation and breaking your baptismal covenants. Of all the commandments to break, committing acts of whoredom is one of the most displeasing in the eyes of the Lord. You cannot be ashamed enough of yourself. You are filthy, and you need to repent and become clean in the eyes of God. Think about your future husband, and how you disrespect not only yourself, but him, as well as the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Is that what you want for yourself? Your future, your celebration, and your posterity is resting on your choices and actions. You are a daughter of God, and you have been a shameful example. Be thou clean, sin no more. Heavenly Father loves you and wants you to make the right choices. I know you are strong enough to choose the right. Your Father in Heaven is pulling for you. Don’t ignore the promptings you receive, because they are vital to your spiritual well-being.” They match nearly identical in their emotional abuse of both Jodi and Travis as well as setting a future for Travis with someone else that Sky would have preferred Travis to be with. When being an investigative journalist you have to have the ability to match up keywords that the shark that you are trying spear uses. In this case the kewyord, future, is used in both of the Hughes remark about Travis and Jodi as well as the word future being found in the Shameful Whore Letter supposedly sent by Jodi to Lisa Andrews.