Category: investigative reporting

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.

We should all be Wisconsinites

It seems that the “Wisconsin Idea” involves tough, fact-based journalism. At least18s3mzhbx3kn0jpg that’s the conclusion we came to when we read that a partnership between the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Reporting  has been granted $120,000 over three years to fund student-produced investigative journalism. The money is coming from the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment, which was established  to “foster public engagement and advance the Wisconsin Idea.”

Read more about the program and the project here. 

And go Badgers!

Need an expert? Try Profnet

If you are a student working for a news organization, you can sign up for Profnet. That’s a service run by PR Newswire that operates as a sort of Linkedin connecting university, corporate and government experts across the country to journalists working on stories that needs their expertise. If you sign up as a journalist on Profnet, which is free, you can then post inquiries for types on info needed. Then Profnet sends out the request and experts who are interested in speaking to you about the story contact you. It can be so effective in getting you a source you might otherwise never find, that some reporters feel that they are cheating by using it.

profnet