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Grad School Program Goes Investigative: Kiplinger Program Changes Direction

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Grad School Program Goes Investigative: Kiplinger Program Changes Direction

Article excerpt

Grad school program goes investigative

An Ohio State University journalism school graduate program for experienced reporters has been transformed into an annual investigative project.

Under the direction of 20-year investigative reporting veteran Mike Masterson, fellows in the Kiplinger Midcareer Program in Public Affairs have already published one project, and is currently in the middle of another - and hush-hush - investigation.

Masterson said he decided to change the way the fellowship program worked after becoming its director last year. Masterson came to the program after heading the investigative reporting team at the Arizona Republic of Phoenix and worked as a reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times.

When he arrived, Masterson said, the usual procedure in the fellowship, which leads to a mater's degree in journalism, was for each of the 10 students to report on one national and one state topic.

"I found them mediocre and the students agreed," said Masterson, who became the director in the middle of the 1989 academic year.

"The [fellows] were like any other reporter: they waited until the last minute and threw something together," he said.

Also, many of the stories tended to be not so much investigative as trend pieces, Masterson said. He, on the other hand, was looking for something "that would prompt some change."

A team approach seemed the best way.

"It only made sense to me," he said. "Here I had 10 of the greatest public affairs reporters in the country and we had all the resources Ohio State University, and the [Kiplinger-funded annual] trip to Washington.

"This is, really, one of the nation's biggest investigative teams."

Masterson initiated the change in the last semester of the 1989 year.

Despite the relatively short time, the team produced a major report on the state of the insurance industry in the United States.

Among the major findings was that a "single major catastrophic earthquake" in a populated section of the U.S. would throw a largely unprepared insurance industry into financial crisis.

The 20-page report also identified 100 "major insurance companies" that have invested more than 100% of their net worth in junk bonds.

Nevertheless, the investigation also largely discounted fears that the insurance industry faces an insolvency crisis. …

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