Journalism Portfolio - Michal Ruprecht
My name is Michal Ruprecht and I'm a sophomore at the University of Michigan and reporter at The Michigan Daily. The Michigan Daily is the only daily newspaper in Washtenaw County and Ann Arbor with a circulation of 7,500. I manage and write content for the research section of the paper. I've been a student journalist since my freshman year of high school, which makes this my seventh year as a student journalist. Throughout the years, I've learned the importance of student journalism and our role as watchdogs and storytellers. This portfolio is a manifest of what I have learned and how I've evolved. I'm a National Scholastic Press Association Honor Roll Student Journalist and I've received individual Michigan Interscholastic Press Association awards for my news and feature writing. Click here to view my high school journalism portfolio.
"University clinicians see a future for telemedicine"
"New technology developed to efficiently produce embryoids"
This was one of the biggest research papers to come out of the University. Everyone was covering the research, which the lead researcher described as a 'double-edged sword' during our interview. The reason for this analogy: many journalists began to misinterpret the research and inaccurately write about it. In his eyes, these inaccuracies could have lead to negative public opinion, damaging the field of work he's worked so hard in. Therefore, it was very important for me to be very accurate throughout the interview and story. Although there weren't any inaccuracies in the story, I wish I had gotten an interview with a bioethicist to get another perspective. I had emailed several bioethicists, however, none responded by publishing time.
"Flint among most environmentally injust census districts, ‘U’ study finds"
One of my goals as a research section writer was changing the belief that research only involves natural sciences. Also, another one of my goals was to increase the diversity of sources and coverage. I decided to cover this research study after learning about the diversity of the research team and topic. I think the most challenging aspect of my reporting was trying to convey how social science studies like this one also utilize the scientific method. This was particularly challenging because I had to concisely explain all of the methods used by the research team. I also ended up conducting a lot of research about environmental justice screening tools used in other states, something that the research team proposed as a next step.
"It’s not worth reporting"
As a student researcher, I’ve had an insider look at the University of Michigan’s research environment. Although my experience with research has been positive, I’ve heard disturbing stories from peers about their research labs. These stories and the nonexistent conversation around abuse in the research setting prompted me to tell the stories of survivors and why many of them never reported their alleged abuse. Many of the student researchers I spoke with requested anonymity, citing fears of professional retribution. The biggest challenge in my reporting was corroborating all of the information the anonymous sources provided me with, which ended up being the bulk of my work. After 10 months of reporting and writing, my article was published. Shortly after, administrators in different departments hosted dialogues and town halls around the issue of mental health and diversity in their lab spaces.
University of Michigan Health System reporting
Although we never published a story from my reporting, this was my first investigative reporting project. I started the investigation by analyzing dozens of 100,000-row spreadsheets on an unorganized government website. Not only was there a lot of data, but there was also a lot of healthcare jargon in the data, making it difficult to understand. This lead me to interview over a dozen sources with expertise in healthcare quality data. After gaining a solid understanding of the data, I started to look for sources at UMHS and patients who had used UMHS's services. My biggest challenge was finding patients to speak to. I found several patient sources by reading online reviews on several platforms and requesting interviews with the reviewers. Many of these interviews were difficult to conduct because I was asking the patients very personal questions about some of the worst periods of their lives. Since I was dealing with confidential medical information, I also conducted medical ethics research to ensure I was following ethical journalistic conduct. My last interview was with UMHS officials, who immediately disparaged the data I presented, which made it a difficult interview to conduct. Although there was information they were withholding, I managed to hold them accountable and answer my questions. My last course of action in this project was filing a Freedom of Information Act. Although it wasn't successful, I learned the basics of FOIA and how to request specific information.
"Michigan Medicine team successfully separates conjoined twins"
"Barbershop celebrates 80th anniversary"
This is was my first piece for The Michigan Daily and I had the opportunity to tell the story of an 80-year-old business on the verge of disappearing, without any successors. The business owner's quotes made the story powerful, rich with emotion and history. Not only did I include this piece in my portfolio because it was a powerful story, but also because I had a lot of trouble finding additional sources to speak to. After brainstorming with my team, we came up with the idea of searching through the business' Google Reviews to find customers we could talk to about the business. Despite the uncertainty of the business's longevity, the owner came to the realization that his work has been very rewarding.
"LSA SG hosts first debate in five years with a contested election of three tickets"
My co-by liner and I finished writing this piece minutes before publishing. After being notified about the debate one hour before it began, we rushed to the venue and prepared questions for the candidates. This story was particularly difficult because we had to moderate the debate and finish writing a summary of the debate at the end. At the beginning of the writing process, we weren't coordinating the work well. Shortly after, we devised a plan to transcribe the most important parts of the two-hour-long recording of the debate. Another challenge we had was writing a balanced story, with all of the candidates' views and policies included. Although there was a large learning curve, I learned how to work with another person under pressure.