Summer To Do List #4

It’s the beginning of the term. It’s time to find an idea for an investigative story.

Here’s some tips for doing that:

  1. Begin with a small idea. Barbara Ehrenreich’s bestselling book Nickel and Dimed, which explored the world of minimum wage work, began with a high-priced lunch and the notion that it must be tough to live on minimum wage.
  2. Pay attention to gossip. Don’t accept problems as a fact of life or old news. If a problem exists, there oughta be a solution to it, and that means a good story.
  3. Follow up on tips. You don’t know how many times people tell reporters: “You should do a story on…” It happens so often that many reporters tune off as soon as they hear those words. Instead, tune in. don't listen
  4. Keep your eyes and ears open. When you see anything out of whack or that
    seems wrong, consider that the starting point to an investigation.
  5. Scan news briefs. Often briefs tell you that something happened but they don’t explain the why or how. When you look into why or how a problem occurred or is occurring you are investigating the problem.
  6. Replicate an investigation done elsewhere. You can find great examples at the Extra!Extra! section of Investigative Reporters & Editors, Inc.

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