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investigative journalism: • Illuminates issues like systemic crime, political corruption or general scandal. • May evoke the word "exposé." • Takes time. • Thrives on numbers, spreadsheets and stark facts.
some guiding principles • Constantly wonder. • Reject the notion that things are as they seem. • Assess life beyond its face value. • Don’t think of details as “small” or “fine.” They usually play the most crucial role in sharpening the big picture. • Put at least as much stock in the process as the product. What you get corresponds directly and proportionately with what you give.
most news: press releases, police blotter, other media INVESTIGATIVE: intuition, questions
major problems, and their solutions • What should I write about?Plagues all journalists. Not delivered, but discovered. Some tips:1. Ask questions, perhaps especially when something seems obvious. 2. Don’t hesitate to exploreyour suspicions. You may find nothing, but you may find something.3. Keep your eyes open for subtle connections between seemingly disconnected people, organizations, ideas, etc. • How do I find sources willing to corroborate my hunch?Probably the biggest challenge, since investigative work tends to nail at least one person to a wall. Every reporter handles this uniquely.
isabella stewart gardner heist • Sometimes, investigative journalists act as detectives. • In this case, journalists reconstructed the past using imagination supported by facts and evidence. • Stephen Kurkjian is probably closer to cracking this case than Boston Police or FBI. • Used a creative and inspired approach to journalism, building relationships with peripheral character, building expertise and thinking outside the proverbial box. Rembrandt’s only seascape, ever.Titled: “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee.”
The mirage • Open for four months in 1977, Chicago • “Everybody was afraid of City Hall.” • 25-part series ran January 1978, “attracting worldwide attention.” • Eventually, city introduced renovated procedures in city inspections, code revisions, state and city investigations. • IRS sent 20 agents to investigate tax fraud by cash businesses. The Illinois Department of Revenue formed a new investigative unit: the Mirage Audit Unit. A police officer caught in the act of accepting a bribe at the Mirage Bar in Chicago.