investigative journalism

Formative: 5 Things

  • 1. When I conducted my secondary research, I encountered several challenges.
  • Firstly, I began to question if I had made the right choice regarding my story topic. As my topic is relevant in media currently, there was plenty of general articles to do with it. However, I couldn’t quite find enough information regarding the more specific elements I wanted to cover. After investing more time into my research, I found articles of great use to me.
  • Secondly, a challenge I encountered was making sure I was getting my secondary research from a reliable news source. I did this by using trusted newspapers (e.g. The Guardian, The Independent) when researching articles, or recognized sites to provide statistics (e.g. CSO, HSE).
  • The third challenge was making sure the secondary research I collected stayed relevant to the topics I wanted to cover in my piece. This meant I had to stay focused when working, making sure everything tied in together.

2. Three things the contact sheet and contacting progress have taught me:

  • How to formally contact people you’re interested in speaking to, maintaining a balance between being polite but not dull with your language. As well as something to help you with contacts, this is also a valuable life skill to possess.
  • People are willing to help you with your work, even if you don’t expect a response or get one straight away. Contacting people with a broad understanding of your topic tends to flow the best, as you can ask them a set amount of questions without them struggling to speak on it. Journalist’s tend to be eager to help aspiring journalists, so these are a safe bet to contact.
  • Structuring a clear contact sheet is useful when it comes to being organized. Being able to see all your contacts details (such as their name, location and phone number/email) makes the process of getting in touch more efficient.

3. I don’t think it’s possible to research efficiently using only secondary research. Taking information from other people’s work can only teach you so much – talking to people directly about it is what helps you truly learn and understand your topic. However, secondary research also has a lot to it, and can be a great help while looking for information on your piece.

4. If a contact provides me with information that shows a person or organization in a bad light, I work around mentioning their name(s) so not to upset them. If I decided I wanted to name them anyway, this could land me in trouble with defamation. Defamation is oral or written communication that harms the reputation of a person or company, and making such a statement could backfire more than it’s worth. It’s safer to indirectly describe the type of person or company, but you must be careful that you don’t get into specifics where they can be easily identified.

5. Jim Lehrer’s rules that apply to my work

2. Do not distort, lie, slant or hype.

This rule is relevant to when you collect research. It’s important that you use verified information when adding to your piece, and tell the facts as they are. You should not twist or make up any information to make your piece seem “better”. Spreading disinformation will make your work less credible, and contacts will hesitate to work with you in the future if you are known for doing this.

10. Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories and clearly label them as such.

This is relevant to my topic, as there is plenty of opinion surrounding Covid-19 and young people. One of the reasons I chose to write about this was to separate fact from opinion, as the media can get this blurred frequently. Between conspiracy theories and general speculation, people have a lot to say about this subject, so it’s important for me to be able to differentiate between the two, and clearly state as such.

investigative journalism

P8 and M4: Assess and Analyze Feedback

  1. Formative Peer Feedback

Points that were made to me, either by my tutor or peers, included:

  • To ensure that I was careful with my wording. During presenting, I made my writing confusing by using words such as “responsible”, but not stating the context. The confusion centered around the intention of the word – was I calling young people responsible in a positive or negative way?
  • During an explanation of a point surrounding age categories, the sentence became long and hard to follow. This was due to my writing not being sharp, or using short, punchy sentences.
  • To correct a slide based on primary and secondary research – the meaning of this prompt had been misinterpreted by myself. This intended meaning was explained to me by my tutor once this error was spotted.
  • During my presentation, I mentioned about “ensuring my facts were accurate”, yet did not specify the verification process. After this was brought to my attention, I specified verified websites used for my research.

Summative Feedback

Points that were made to me during my summative feedback by journalist Mick Clifford included:

  • That one of the most important ways to show my research regarding young people being targeted for the spread of Covid-19 is to compare this with different age groups.
  • To provide examples of how young people are being blamed, either in the media or from NPHET briefings.
  • Young people are at a stage of life where socializing is key, which also feeds into my thesis. This is another important element to my piece.
  • My comparison involving how young people in Northern Ireland have been more heavily laid off work as opposed to older people was praised, giving me confidence in my work.
  • Overall, my piece was said to be very well-rounded and well put-together.

2. If I were to do anything differently in my piece after the formative feedback, it would include:

  • Taking more care in my wording of sentences, in order to ensure my work flow clearly and makes sense to the reader without having to reread it.
  • Using shorter, punchier sentences to grab the readers attention
  • Ensuring I have read the task given to me clearly, so I hit all learning outcomes and do not miss out on an achievable grade.
  • Use a verification process while gathering facts, in order to ensure their reliability. This includes using trust-worthy sources for figures and statistics, such as CSO.

If I were to do anything differently in my piece after the summative feedback, it would include:

  • Being specific when using age group comparisons, as this highlights the prompt of my piece and emphasizes the points I am making.
  • Providing examples of young people being blamed, although I believe I carried this out in my piece. However, I could have included more.
  • Emphasizing further on the job loss rates for young people – perhaps even making this a subheading and delving deeper into the topic.
investigative journalism

Young People and Covid-19: Are we to Blame?

man in gray dress shirt and blue denim jeans walking on sidewalk during daytime
PC: Kevin Grieve


The last thing anyone wants to hear is that they are to blame for a global pandemic. For young people, we hear this regularly.

Between the media hounding us, to boomers tutting and shaking their heads while walking past, the stereotype is everywhere. Dr. Ronan Glynn, chief medical officer, acknowledged this before we re-entered phase 5 in October. He said:

Ireland has developed a “blame culture” which is now focused on young people.”

One reason for this is the public growing “tired and fatigued” of the pandemic. The result of this has led to finger pointing, with no real knowledge of the reality surrounding them.

What’s caught my attention, is that while these older people are pointing fingers, they’re rarely innocent themselves. I have experienced those cussing out a neighbor throwing a seventeenth birthday “party” of eight friends, yet organizing a communion “get-together” for thirty people in their back garden.

When cases began to spike during late August, Dublin consultant Laura Durcan spoke on this during RTE’s Today show with Claire Byrne. She said: “We need to think about brunches, lunches, dinner parties and communions too. We have to be able to personalise the message and modify our behaviour.”

On a separate interview on the Today show, minister for Health Simon Harris contrasted video footage released of a group of young people drinking and partying in the streets of Killarney, Co. Kerry, with the “Golfgate” scandal involving past and present members of parliament. Goflgate is the name given to the two-day event held by the Oireachtas Golf Society, and attended in the Station House Hotel in Clifden. 82 people partook in the event, involving top politicians. These included Minister for Agriculture, Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary, Supreme Court Judge Seamus Woulfe and EU Commissioner Phil Hogan.

This event took place the day after new restrictions were put in place late August, stating that no more than six people allowed to gather indoors, and 15 outdoors.

“There were no students in Clifden.” Said the Minister, when comparing the different age groups, and said there will always be people “who do stupid things.”

Restriction Breakers/Anti-Mask

man in black and red hoodie standing in front of people
PC: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona

As of time of writing in October 2020, the Covid-19 case figures categorized by age from the month previous were as followed:

Covid-19 Cases – September 2020 – CSO

15 – 24: 2,008

25 – 44: 2,820

45-64: 1,976

Evidently, the virus is spreading amongst young people. And like Minister Simon Harris said, there will always be people who “do stupid things”, but these people could be young or old. So if young people aren’t to blame, the question is: where are these high figures coming from?

On 2 November 2020, I contacted An Garda Siochana to ask a representative to speak to me about what the situation has been like regarding dealing with complaints over young people breaking restrictions. They said:

“It’s safe to say, the Irish Public and young people have been highly compliant during the restrictions. This has stayed consistent over the past number of months.”

“Throughout the Covid response Gardai have used the 4E’s approach of engage, educate and encourage, and only where provided for and as a last resort, enforcement.”

A group of people who openly don’t support the government guidelines are commonly known as “anti-maskers”. This refers to individuals who do not believe in the benefits for themselves and those around them of wearing fabric face masks to cover their nose and mouth. These people are not refusing to wear them due to being medically exempt – they are either in denial of the virus, want to feel “in control” of what they do, or are filled with conspiracy theories about the government.

Whatever the reason, many of these people are angry about it. Their anger has driven them to a point of mass anti-mask protests, with thousands attending. These protests include banners expressing their beliefs (some photographed include “COVID-19 HOAX” and “NO TO MASKS; NO TO SOCIAL DISTANCING; NO TO COVID TESTING; NO TO COVID VACCINE; YES TO LIFE!”). These protests don’t include the wearing of face-masks or standing 6 feet apart.

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization recommend cloth masks for the general public, and most people have become accustomed to wearing one. Your face and mouth being uncovered means that the droplets spreading will not be caught within a mask if not wearing one, causing a higher spread of the virus.

So how many of these people refusing to take precautions are young people?

I contacted two organizations which organize these protests, Yellow Vest Ireland and Health Freedom Ireland. Despite reaching out on multiple occasions for a comment on this, neither of them responded as of time of writing.

I turned to video footage of these mass protests to see what I could find. One video I found, dated 12 September 2020, was estimated at having 1,500-2,000 attendants. The protest was organized by Yellow Vest Ireland. Video evidence shows no visible signs of young people participating, apart from children holding their parents hands or babies in strollers, who are too young to have a fully-formed opinion.


people sitting on chairs inside room
PC: Andy Falconer

When primary and secondary schools reopened this year late August/early September, after being closed nationwide since March 13th, this was a major cause for concern regarding case spikes.

Safety precautions were put in place for the return of students. For secondary schools, these include:

  • Face coverings to be worn at all times
  • Students sitting at socially distanced desks
  • Desks to be sanitized before and after use
  • No lockers or indoor canteens in use.
  • Increased ventilation (windows must be kept open at all times)

As cases began to spike during September, leading to the closure of restaurants and pubs serving food for the second time, people began to question where these cases were coming from. A section for school outbreaks is not included in the daily figures.

I sourced these statistics from Martina Broe, who runs a Twitter account dedicated to providing parents with information . These have been approved by the HSE. As of time of writing (30 November 2020) there has been:

  • 806 cases in Primary schools, with 478 school impacted (14.8%)
  • 793 cases in Secondary schools, with 378 schools impacted (52.0%)

Young people have no say when it comes to mixing in these situations, apart from students at third level who have majorly carried out their education this year online, apart from those partaking in practical work which requires in-person attendance.

I spoke to Aoife McLysaght, the Trinity College Professor of Genetics, who is unhappy that the blame is being cast amongst young people.

“As I work in Trinity, I have lots of interaction with that young age group. All of my students, from what I have seen, have been really good regarding complacency. Of course, they wish things didn’t have to be like this. They have been very careful – I work in the science labs, so they have those, but what they do on campus has been brought back to a total minimum.”

Public Transport

blue and black bus seats
PC: Lukas Medvedevas

Over the course of the pandemic, we as a nation have been advised not to take public transport unless it’s absolutely necessary. This is due to:

  • Decreased capacity on buses and trains.
  • Lack of frequent sanitization.
  • Essential workers being prioritized in order to get to and from work.

According to The Department of Transport, Oxford and Bristol Universities, a government-backed study reveals under a third of those aged 17-20 hold a driving license.

The likelihood of young people being able to afford transport of their own, especially with the financial strain lockdown’s have put on the country, is unlikely. Lockdown’s have also led to many job losses, the hospitality sector targeted in particular.

The overall minimum cost of learning to drive and getting a 10 year driving license is typically around 690 euro. This does not include any lessons outside of the 12-hour lessons you are required to take, or any insurance premiums which would be necessary if you wanted to drive your own car or a family car.

This means that young people are left with no choice but to compromise themselves in less government-abiding conditions by taking public transport when commuting, unless they are at a financial advantage and can afford to learn how to drive.

Long term effects for young people

woman leaning on door looking outside
PC: Kinga Cichewicz

In the illuminating My World Survey, published by UCD and Jigsaw in November 2019, young people were questioned about the parts of their lives that stressed them out to think about the most.

Following exams and finance, “the future” was among the top three stress providers for young adults. This was just months before our lives around us would change in all three of these aspects.

Due to school closures, the class of 2020 had no “real” leaving cert – only an estimated grade provided by their teachers and approved by the state. This was deemed unfair by many students, as their grades may well have been higher if sitting the exam in June had went ahead. Not to mention the once-in-a-lifetime experiences missed – no “last day”, no graduation, no debs.

As mentioned previously, the hospitality sector being impacted has led to financial struggles for young people employed by it. In Northern Ireland, it is estimated that 45% of under-25s have been laid off work since the start of the crisis, compared to 25%-30% for older age groups.

Young people’s lifelong dreams have been obliterated by the pandemic. Some had plans of studying abroad this year once finishing their school studies, which now cannot go ahead due to safety measures.

I speak for young people when I say, the last thing we want is for this pandemic to continue. We too are being impacted by this. Although we might not take a hit physically, we’re taking it mentally. According to the CSO, people aged 18-34 have the highest rates of those who are nervous, downhearted, depressed and lonely due to the virus. Yet, we all get targeted under the same category of being “selfish“, “inconsiderate” and “putting lives at risk“. Yes, there are people “who do stupid things.” But that statement is applied for anyone, no matter the age.


Coronavirus in Ireland: Blame culture is now targeting young people, says Ronan Glynn | Ireland | The Times

Covid-19: Dublin doctor warns against blaming young people for rising cases (

What is golfgate? Ireland’s political scandal explained | The Irish Post

Harris and HSE chief warn against blaming young people for spread of Covid-19 (

COVID-19 Deaths and Cases Statistics – CSO – Central Statistics Office

What does antimask mean? (

The Psychology Behind Why Some People Refuse To Wear Face Masks | HuffPost Life

Face Coverings and Masks (

Thousands march through Dublin to protest face mask wearing (

Safety tips for returning to school during COVID-19 – Mayo Clinic

(2) Martina B #TogetherWeStandForOurSchools (@MartinaBroe1) / Twitter

Number of young adults with driving licences falls by 40 per cent | Auto Express

Covid-19 and the Irish Hospitality Sector: Impact and Options (

Cost of Learning to Drive in Ireland – Money Guide Ireland

Special Report: Ireland’s young people ‘fear the future more than anything’ amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis (

Coronavirus: Young people ‘face trap of world without work’ – BBC News

Social Impact of COVID-19 by Age Group April 2020 – CSO – Central Statistics Office

investigative journalism

P1 Secondary Research

1. Why blaming young people for the Covid-19 spike could backfire – Podcast by Stephen Reicher and Anushka Asthana, The Guardian (Blame)

2. Report: Young People and Covid – Siofra Mulqueen, Newstalk (Intro?)

3. It’s estimated that 45% of under-25s have been furloughed or laid off since the start of the crisis, compared to 25%-30% for older age groups – http://www.bbccom (NI) – not spreading in workplace and made aware of how real virus is (Pandemic Repercussions)

4. Of the 3,353 cases recorded national between September 7 and 20, 727 of those cases were in the age group. That’s 21.68% of all cases in Ireland. (as of September 22nd 2020) – (Health)

5. Younger people should be treated as part of the solution when it comes to stopping the spread of Covid-19 rather than the problem, according to experts and youth leaders. (Blame/Pandemic Repercussions)

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) professor of genetics Aoife McLysaght said her experience with students was that they display great self-awareness about Covid-19. – (Blame)

6. Minister Harris said there would always be people “who do stupid things” in reference to the scenes of revelry, but added that we should not lose sight of the fact that the majority of people are doing everything that has been asked of them – (Blame/People Breaking Restrictions)

7. Ireland has developed a “blame culture” around Covid-19 which is now focused on young people, the acting chief medical officer has said. – (Blame)

8. “We need to think about brunches, lunches, dinner parties and communions too. We have to be able to personalise the message and modify our behaviour,” said Dr Durcan. Dr Durcan also warned about “finger pointing” at young people when the majority had been “remarkably compliant”. (Blame/ OLDER people breaking restrictions)

9. Job insecurity, no ‘real’ college experience, the lack of a social life impacting on mental health; these are just some of the things young people are worried about because of the pandemic. – Irish Examiner (again, clearly made very aware of pandemic repercussions)

10. In the illuminating My World Survey, published by UCD and Jigsaw in November 2019, respondents were asked to name the aspects of their lives that brought them the most stress.

Alongside exams and finance, “the future” was among the top three most salient endorsed stressors for young adults. This bears thinking about. Though it may seem a world away, the Ireland of November 2019 was one in which most indicators of economic growth were strong, where unemployment was low, and where the country was often praised as a post-recession success story. (Pandemic Repercussions)






investigative journalism

P2 Facts are Sacred

1. Casting young people as irresponsible spreaders of coronavirus is “misleading” as research shows they just as compliant as older people, scientists have said. – The Independent (Blame)

2. Covid-19 Cases – September 2020 – CSO15 – 24: 2,00825 – 44: 2,82045-64: 1,976 (Figures/stats)

3. People aged 18-34 have the highest rates of those who are nervous, downhearted, depressed and lonely due to the virus. – CSO (Pandemic repercussions)

4. Yellow Vest Ireland – Up to 2,000 people marched through Dublin City Centre in protest at the wearing of face masks – Video evidence shows no sight of young people apart from children walking with parents or babies in strollers. (Anti-mask)

5. “Evidence suggests that spikes in cases in some countries are being driven in part by younger people letting down their guard during the northern hemisphere summer,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. (Breaking restrictions)

6. Blaming individuals or specific groups is likely to be counterproductive in the battle to win support and trust for new restrictions. – Stephen Reicher, Social Psychologist, The Guardian (Blame)

7. Stigma is associated with a lack of knowledge about how COVID-19 spreads, a need to blame someone, fears about disease and death, and gossip that spreads rumors and myths. – (Blame)

8. A 25-year-old who contracts this disease is approximately 250 times less likely to die than an infected 85-year-old, according to the most sophisticated estimates of infection-fatality rates. – The Atlantic (Health aspect)

9. Officials said that young people have been social distancing less often and have more contacts – Euronews (Blame? Breaking restrictions?)

10. Government-backed study reveals under a third of those aged 17-20 hold a driving licence, down from nearly half in the early 1990s – Department of Transport, Oxford and Bristol Universities (meaning young people have to use public transport) (Schools/Public Transport)

11. The overall minimum cost of learning to drive and getting a 10 year driving licence is typically around 690 euro. This does not include any extra lessons outside of the 12-hour mandatory lessons or any extra insurance premiums which would be needed if you were to drive your own car or a family car. – (Schools/Public transport)

12. Children were about half as likely to catch coronavirus as adults and therefore less likely to pass it on, a review of global studies by University College London (UCL) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine suggested. (Schools/Public Transport)

13. 132 people aged 15-24 died of the virus (USA – (Health)

14. Researchers in China found that the most common symptoms among people who were hospitalized with COVID-19 include: –

  • Fever: 99%
  • Fatigue:70%
  • A dry cough: 59%
  • Loss of appetite: 40%
  • Body aches: 35%
  • Shortness of breath: 31%
  • Mucus or phlegm: 27% (Health)

15. School outbreaks have not been a prominent feature in the COVID-19 pandemic, mostly due to the fact that the majority of children do not develop symptoms when infected with the virus, or develop a very mild form of the disease. – (Schools)

16. Specific measures to observe in school settings are increased physical distancing, improved ventilation, regular hand-washing, and the use of masks when feasible. – (Schools)

17. Low proportions of antibodies found in children’s blood can be an indication that they are less susceptible to severe infection than adults, and therefore play a less significant role in the spread of the virus. – (schools?)

18. When schools close for extended periods, children and young people are deprived of opportunities for growth and development. These disadvantages are disproportionate for under-privileged learners who tend to have fewer educational opportunities outside of school. (Schools)

19. Doctors have seen a slew of coronavirus patients in their 30s and 40s suffering from sudden strokes, a condition that is most often seen in senior citizens (the median age for a severe stroke is 74). – (Health)


People at high risk from coronavirus include people who:

  • have had an organ transplant
  • are having chemotherapy or antibody treatment for cancer, including immunotherapy (Health)

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization now recommend cloth masks for the general public –

investigative journalism

P1 Key Journalism Skills

Knowledge, Book, Library, Glasses

Hypothesis – a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation (a.k.a. an educated guess).

Research – the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.

Objective – not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.

Research question – a question that a research project sets out to answer.

Converting Story Ideas

Corona Virus Blame: This is a perfect example of hypothesis in society as of now. People are quick to make the assumption that the rise in Covid-19 cases is near to completely down to the irresponsible actions of young people. Although this may be a portion of the cause, I believe that with further research I will find that older people must also take a look at themselves and the decisions that they make. An aspect of this I am particularly interested in, is what rate of anti-masker’s are young people? I, for one, do not see them partaking in these reckless protests that potentially endanger thousands of lives.

Beauty Standard: If we as a society truly practiceda what we preached, the beauty standard would have been something that was outdated and unheard of. However, we still have a long way to go to truly be inclusive of diversity. I would like to research what is keeping this standard alive, and the effect it has on young people’s mental health. Although I do not pay much attention to this on a personal level, I see first hand the effects it has on people around me. In a world dominated by social media presence, have we became more judgemental than ever before?

Skills I would use in my Journalism

Always make your identity clear – This is important to do to make your name known, for your style to become recognizable and for you to get credit on your work.

Be sympathetic with your quotes – Quotes are a useful way to back up your sources. They credibility to your work, and help the reader perceive the context of your piece better. If phrased correctly, the reader will gain confidence that you know what you’re talking about.

Retracting statements – If you do make a mistake, it’s important to be able to admit when you’re wrong. Spreading false information is something that, as a journalist, needs to be corrected ASAP. The sooner you apologize for this, the sooner your statement will blow over and people will move on.

Local can be easier – When covering a story, locality is the simplest way to go about it: interviews are on your doorstep, primary sources surround you and libraries can be full of useful information. Locality is also less time consuming – for example, it saves you having to travel to get first hand information on a story you were highly invested in.

investigative journalism

Identifying Material

The main element regarding the style of “Men in Media” is how conversational the video is. Iman Amrani, Guardian journalist, is a very down-to-earth woman, and the tone of the video is very relaxed. She appears in the first few seconds laid back on her couch, in loungewear, drinking from a mug. When the topic of the “ideal man” is put to her, she giggles in confusion, as if to say “Well, how the hell would I know?” Her informal self makes the video an easy watch, and has a great flow to it, despite the topic of the male beauty standard being a serious matter. Amrani is not remotely insensitive to the topic, and has the perfect balance between banter and intellect.

Story Ideas

Beauty Standard

In a world of diversity, why does this still exist? Has this changed in recent times? Have we as a society became better or worse regarding acceptance?

Gender Equality

Have trolls ruined the concept of feminism? Why are men still bashful about being feminists?

Corona Virus Blame

Are older people too quick to put the blame onto us? What are the rates of anti-maskers amongst young people? Do we really have a choice when it comes to “proper” social distancing?


How will we afford to live? Will we be able to live the lives we had planned to? Will Covid effect us forever?