Day 2: Investigative Reporting: Tools and Rules
“If you want to know what’s going on, just… follow the money,” said seasoned investigative reporter, David Kaplan, quoting the line from the movie All The President’s Men.
Although the Watergate scandal is now 30 years behind us, investigative reporting could not be more important to the field of journalism. It is our chances as journalists to take on that watchdog role and cover topics in our communities that really impact people.
Still, despite its importance to our free press societies, the time and money needed for great investigative work leaves this corner of reporting struggling to stay in the budget of today’s newsrooms.
Yes, investigative reporting has faced a series of challenges as changing financial models and technologies have compromised the investment news organizations are willing to put into accountability journalism.
It was refreshing to learn that getting paid for investigative work is not a lost art. Kaplan is one of the reporters who have been able to carve his niche into this world of investigative reporting. He has been a reporter around the world, and now is based in Washington, D.C. as the editor-at-large for the “Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.”
Not only did Kaplan refresh our memory about the American history of investigative journalism, he also described his own experiences in his years as a foreign correspondent. Unfortunately, today, the Internet has prompted the downsizing of serious media he explained.
The first to go are the foreign bureaus, said Kaplan. Then it’s the investigative teams, then special projects, and now beat reporting is facing the chopping block.
“That’s what my editors don’t understand—why do international pieces take longer?” said Kaplan.
It was during his time working in Japanese television that he experienced the importance in being news savvy, and also faced the importance of being aware of what kind of cross cultural differences may exist in the country you are reporting from.
So what’s next for accountability journalism, according to Kaplan? He suggested it is time to make the investigations interactive.
Keeping the tools we learned from Kaplan’s session with us, I believe we, as young journalists, will be the ones defining what the next evolution in investigative reporting will reveal.
Cristina Rayas was a student of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Phoenix.