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What's really going on here...

"Investigative journalism is finding, reporting and presenting news which other people try to hide. It is very similar to standard news reporting, except that the people at the centre of the story will usually not help you and may even try to stop you doing your job."
--Sample Investigative Reports

This is definitely one of the harder genres to write, I think. This and talking to people who've just experienced traumatic events seem like very hard aspects of newswriting because you're talking to people who may not want to talk to you or may not be giving accurate information. You really need to finesse both situations and have good people skills; you have to know what to say to get the kind of responses you want. It seems like there needs to be a whole other class that trains you for that, because it's certainly not in any way easy. You have to know how to dig without appearing to dig to the people you're investigating, and you have to have the savvy to know which people are really willing to give you the dirt on something. Another part about this genre that's very difficult is--how do you find story ideas? You can't uncover things about a certain situation if it turns out there's nothing to uncover. And if there are good story ideas, the whole point of them being good story ideas is the fact that people are trying to hide or suppress them. So how do you find out about them? I guess you might have suspicions about certain things, and then go interview people to see if your suspicions have any justification. I can see how good contacts are vital to this genre; as a student in a class, I have very few contacts and am having difficulty figuring out who to talk to. You need to know who would give you the "official" story and who would give you the "unofficial" story. And what if there just simply aren't any scandals or shady underhanded dealings going on at the moment? What do you do then, huh? Sometimes I think journalists might just get desperate and try to make situations out of things that aren't that big a deal. You see all the time in TV news about the latest government spending scandal or the latest food that has something nasty in it. But oftentimes the music they use is scarier than the actual story. I can see how investigative reporting has its place and can be very important, but it can also be a cheap gimmick if you're not careful.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 10, 2009 6:19 PM.

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