Reporting tactic: Soliciting leaks

Reporting tactic: Soliciting leaks

Less than a week into the Trump administration, multiple government agencies have told their employees not to speak to the news media or release information to the public. Journalists have responded by spreading the word that it’s easy to reach them, securely and confidentially. Many news organizations use SecureDrop, which describes itself as “an open-source […]

Who says TV stations can't produce great Web content?

Who says TV stations can’t produce great Web content?

Add another plaque on the wall for New Orleans investigative reporter Lee Zurik of WVUE. His series Louisiana Purchased, co-produced with the Times-Picayune’s NOLA.com, just won IRE‘s small-market broadcast award.  The investigation of campaign finance in Louisiana “exposed…direct influence peddling going on across the state,” the judges wrote. The station has aired at least 40 stories in the series, […]

TV investigation requires multiple cameras

TV investigation requires multiple cameras

It started with a tip from a source to KNTV. It sounded crazy but it turned out to be true. The world’s biggest food distributor, Sysco, was storing raw meat, milk and other food in unrefrigerated storage units before delivering it to restaurants. NBC Bay Area eventually aired a series of reports on the scandal that let […]

Patience pays off for investigative reporter

Patience pays off for investigative reporter

If you tell an investigative reporter they’ll never find what they’re looking for, you can bet they won’t give up until they get it. Just ask WRC reporter Tisha Thompson, who spent 6 years unearthing the State Department’s list of accident reports and driving violations committed by diplomats in Washington, DC. The project started when Thompson […]

When to use hidden cameras

When to use hidden cameras

The video is black-and-white and grainy, but it makes the case. A manager at a company selling what it claims is health insurance instructs employees on what to tell prospects on the phone: “Tell them any f—ing thing,” he says. Reporter Jeremy Finley’s story for WSMV-TV in Nashville about United Benefits of America eventually put the company out of […]

Journalism collaboration: How to work well with partners

Journalism collaboration: How to work well with partners

by Stephen Stock, Investigative Reporter, NBC Bay Area (KNTV) San Jose, California Whether we like it or not, collaboration between various media partners is fast becoming the way many big journalism projects get done. In fact, a vast majority of the Peabody, IRE, DuPont and other big award winners recently have been the result of […]

Tips for investigative reporting

Tips for investigative reporting

Organized chaos. That’s how Lee Zurik of WVUE in New Orleans describes his work days. And no wonder. He anchors two prime time newscasts every night and also serves as the station’s chief investigative reporter.  How does he manage to keep producing award-winning work? We asked Zurik to share his strategies for finding and keeping […]

Investigating the state of investigative journalism

Investigating the state of investigative journalism

Ask an entire generation of journalists what inspired them to go into or stay in the news business and the answer often comes down to one word: Watergate.  Forty years ago this month, two young reporters at the Washington Post filed their first stories about what a White House spokesman described as “a third rate burglary.” […]

Local TV entries sweep IRE medals

Local TV entries sweep IRE medals

It’s not a first, but it’s exceedingly rare. This year’s IRE Medal, the highest award for investigative reporting by Investigative Reporters and Editors, went to two broadcast outlets: KRTK and KQED. Only once before in the 18-year history of the medals has broadcast recorded a sweep, when Lee Zurik of WWL was the only winner […]

Journalists need allies as well as sources

Journalists need allies as well as sources

A good source is worth every minute you put into cultivating him or her. A source can tip you off to stories you might not find any other way, steer you in the right direction and keep you from making embarrassing mistakes. But reporters need more than sources when they’re working on tough stories. They […]

Prize-winning local TV strategies

Prize-winning local TV strategies

If you’ve been feeling despondent about the current state of local TV news, just take a look at the latest issue of Quill, the SPJ magazine. Here’s all you need to know about the section that cheered me up: Despite the cutbacks in TV newsrooms, some local stations are still producing truly excellent work. The […]

Best of the best: Big problem, low priority

Best of the best: Big problem, low priority

Congratulations to KCTV in Kansas City and chief investigative reporter Dana Wright, who just won a 2011 Casey Medal for distinguished coverage of children and families, particularly the disadvantaged. The winning entry was a five-part series, “Big problem, low priority,” that looked at the plight of homeless children in Kansas City, Kansas. The station isn’t […]

Investigative strategies for complex stories

Investigative strategies for complex stories

What turns one appalling case into an investigation that can change state law and reform an industry? Determined, methodical digging and accurate analysis of public records–that’s how the Seattle Times told the full story of Seniors for Sale, a year-long series on elderly abuse in “adult homes.” In the latest issue of the IRE Journal, reporter […]

How to encourage investigative reporting

How to encourage investigative reporting

The odds have long been stacked against investigative reporting in local TV, but somehow it survives. Despite concerns about the expense and time involved in producing investigative journalism, not to mention the potential for lawsuits, some I-Teams actually manage to thrive. While many newsrooms cut or dropped their investigative units when the economy soured, others […]

Using Facebook for a TV investigation

Using Facebook for a TV investigation

Want more proof that social media are great reporting tools? Look no farther than “Keys to the Castle” an investigative story Jace Larson reported for KUSA in Denver that picked up a 2011 duPont-Columbia Award. The story uncovered a housing scam that victimized people facing foreclosure as well as people looking to rent. As the […]

Managing time for investigations

Managing time for investigations

Most reporters don’t have the luxury of working on an investigative story for weeks on end. These days, being a “full time” investigative journalist often means filing daily stories while working on long-term projects. Doing that well takes lots of different skills, not the least of which is time management. The latest issue of The […]

Best of the best: Deporting justice

Best of the best: Deporting justice

What started as a daily news story turned into a multi-part, award-winning investigation thanks to a simple question: Was the incident an isolated occurrence, as officials claimed, or part of a pattern? Finding the answer uncovered a system failure that allowed thousands of accused felons to be deported rather than face criminal prosecution. The series […]

Best of the best: Foreigners on the farm

Best of the best: Foreigners on the farm

Sometimes you find the best stories just by taking a closer look at what’s already in plain sight. What WCAX-TV reporter Kristin Carlson saw was a Vermont dairy industry in such dire straits that farmers willingly broke the law to hire help so they could stay in business. Her three-part series, Foreigners on the Farm, […]

Best of the best: Emergency response

Best of the best: Emergency response

Layoffs and cutbacks have taken their toll in local television newsrooms but quality TV journalism ain’t dead yet. Want proof? Six local stations won the prestigious duPont-Columbia silver baton this year–the most in more than 20 years. The winners are doing journalism the old-fashioned way, with tenacious reporting and superior storytelling. Today, we begin a […]