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We’re all about storytelling — and there are countless stories to be told that can be discovered with data. At Stanford, you’ll learn how to use data to boost your multimedia reporting to the next level.

What You’ll Learn

Beat Reporting Skills

Grace Doerfler (MA 2023) focused on education issues during fall quarter's News Reporting class. Doerfler published several stories including a report on the contentious school board election in Palo Alto, an article about the battle over an affordable housing proposal for teachers in Menlo Park and a multimedia package about how local communities are dealing with school gun violence.

The front of three trucks.

In News Reporting class, Rachel Oh (MA ‘21) followed the effects of California’s gig economy law. Unlike other news outlets, Oh looked at the impacts of the law on people who fall outside of what people normally see as gig economy workers. Oh spoke with truckerspet sitters, translators and other independent contractors who were impacted by the law.

Data Frame of Mind


The Peninsula Press’ Data Hub highlights students' data-driven stories about topics as diverse as vaccination rates to cleantech investment to Airbnb rental regulations.


Multimedia Storytelling

Mandy Barker immersive experience

MA students collaborated with noted British environmental photographer Mandy Barker, using her images to create a virtual reality experience, “Ripple plastic: the unintended life of plastic at sea.” The experience submerges viewers into the sea filled with Barker’s found marine plastic debris items. The project aims to tell the story of the lasting damage of plastics in the environment.

Sophisticated Visuals

An aerial shot of a refinery

 Elissa Miolene's (MA '22) video on Benecia's toxic spill showcases her own drone footage, strong video interviews and b-roll plus After Effects animations. Miolene passed her FAA drone license exam and learned After Effects to create visuals to complement her data reporting. The struggle for clean air and water in Benicia

Data Negotiation and Analysis

A woman in front of her RV

Kavish Harjai (MA 2022) wrangled and analyzed three data sources using Python to explore mobile home park rebuilds in Paradise, California in the aftermath of the 2018 Camp Fire. The result of that analysis, combined with on-the-ground reporting, resulted in an in-depth piece featuring former mobile home park residents who survived the fire. “I just miss having them next door”: Paradise’s mobile home community hasn’t been rebuilt 3 years after Camp Fire

Investigative Reporting Techniques

A man holds on to his shoulder

Students in the Investigative Watchdog Reporting Course in Spring of 2021 looked at use-of-force data from Bakersfield as part of the California Reporting Project. They found that between 2016 and 2019, Bakersfield police officers used force that broke at least 45 bones in 31 people. Docs show Bakersfield police broke bones in 31 people


Three students in the Spring 2015 investigative reporting course, pushed for data, records and documents when key sources wouldn’t talk to them for an investigative report about the difficulties of hazardous waste regulation in California. “Sims Recycling plant shows difficulties of hazardous waste regulation”

Building a News App

Özge Terzioğlu (MA 2023) and Tracy Zhang (MA 2023) were part of a team that created Campus Crimewatch for the Building News Applications class. The students wanted to create a centralized and accessible picture of crime and safety on college campuses. 

Chris Giles (MA 2022) and Elena Shao (MA 2022) created visualizations depicting Russia's attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukrainian. They used thousands of verified social media posts to create the website Ukraine, Documented.  

Localizing an International Story

A man near his two children. A third child is in the background.

Elissa Miolene (MA '22) localized an international story — about the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the subsequent influx of refugees into the US — to tell the story of how one Afghan family is faring in the Bay area.  "Afghan family begins to rebuild in Bay Area, after three months of life on hold"

Feature Storytelling

Hannah Bassett (MA 2023) profiles a man who was wrongly imprisoned for more than three decades. The story includes a video and text. Man Wrongly Imprisoned for 32 Years Sues San Francisco

A couple stands on a road

As part of her master's thesis Ashlyn Rollins (MA 2019) returned home to Butte County to chronicle the recovery efforts in Paradise in the aftermath of the Camp Fire — the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. ‘When will this end?’ Months after Camp Fire, living in Paradise still feels like ‘everybody’s in crisis’


Matt Hansen (MA ’14) shared the story of gay rodeo participants in a character-driven narrative. “For gay competitors, a rodeo to call their own”


Software and Platforms You’ll Gain Experience In:

  • Hindenburg Audio Editing
  • GitHub
  • The command line
  • HTML, CSS and Javascript
  • Databases and SQL
  • Python
  • R
  • Advanced spreadsheet techniques
  • Twitter API
  • Tableau
  • ArcGIS Mapping
  • Tabula and data cleaning
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • WordPress CMS
  • Social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram


The Graduate Degree in Journalism requires a minimum of 45 units. In addition to seven required courses, students have to take two specialized writing courses, chosen from a list of eleven, and three approved electives from among graduate-level courses in the Department of Communication or from among courses across campus. We encourage students in the program to take courses outside of the department in everything from statistics to coding to design thinking.

Except for COMM 289P Journalism Master’s Thesis, all courses must be taken for a letter grade. To remain in good academic standing, students must maintain a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better. Graduation requires a GPA of 3.0 or better.

Required Courses

Specialized Reporting Courses (choose at least two)

Electives in the Department of Communication

Sample Schedule

Autumn Quarter (sample)

  • COMM 225: Perspectives on American Journalism (4)
  • COMM 273D: Public Affairs Data Journalism I (4)
  • COMM 275 Multimedia Storytelling (3-4)
  • COMM 279: News Reporting + Writing Fundamentals (3-4)

Winter Quarter (sample)

  • COMM 216: Journalism Law (4)
  • COMM 274D: Public Affairs Data Journalism II (4)
  • Specialized Reporting Course
  • Elective Course

Spring Quarter (sample)

  • COMM 289P: Journalism Thesis (4)
  • Specialized Reporting Course
  • Two (2) Elective Courses

Guest Speakers and Events

Working journalists and media industry pros are frequently invited to classes as guests to share their professional expertise and practical insights relevant to the challenges impacting the ever-changing media landscape. Guests have included John Branch (national baseball writer for The New York Times), Chris Buckley (chief China correspondent at The New York Times), Nicholas Casey (staff writer at The New York Times Magazine), Helene Cooper (correspondent at The New York Times), Lyse Doucet (presenter and chief international correspondent with BBC), David Fahrenthold (investigative reporter at The New York Times), Manny Fernandez (deputy political editor for The New York Times), Joss Fong (senior editorial producer with the Vox video team), Emilio Garcia-Ruiz (editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Chronicle), Josh Haner (photo futurist at The New York Times), Chelsea Janes (sports columnist at The Washington Post), Margie Mason (Asia medical/investigative reporter at the Associated Press), Ron Nixon (global investigations editor at the Associated Press), Sudarsan Raghavan (correspondent-at-large at The Washington Post), Emily Ramshaw (co-founder and CEO of The 19th), Eli Saslow (reporter with The Washington Post), Kurt Streeter (feature writer with The New York Times), Jason Szep (international political investigations editor with Reuters), Sam Wolson (immersive film producer), Keith Woods (chief diversity officer at National Public Radio). Additionally, there are numerous events across the Stanford campus almost every day that bring prominent technology executives, entrepreneurs and journalists to speak. 

The Stanford Journalism Program also has co-hosted conferences that have featured journalists from news organizations like Reuters, NPR, The New York Times, Florida Sun-Sentinel and MuckRock.

Journalism Thesis Project

The Stanford Journalism Program provides a unique opportunity for students to showcase their talents as prospective authors and journalists. Each student will launch an intensive, in-depth inquiry into an area that he or she is personally interested in examining and critiquing at length. The MA Project represents a major commitment of time and effort. While there is no formal publishing requirement, the completed project must be judged by a member of the Journalism faculty to be of a quality acceptable for publication. Successful completion is a precondition for graduation from the program. MA Projects are typically launched during Winter Quarter with a deadline-driven submission date of the last day of class of Spring Quarter.

Student Media and Professional News Partnerships