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 IRE Journal shares these tips and tricks from two award-winning investigative journalists–Raquel Rutledge of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and Laura Frank of the I-News Network based in Denver. Among them:
- Keep an active list of ideas for bigger stories. Feed it regularly as you get ideas while covering daily news.
- Use one notebook for daily stories and another for bigger enterprise pieces. During any down time, pickup the enterprise notebook and chip away at the story.
- Stay organized by using a source list, a to-do list (updated daily), a quotes file or index, a timeline of key events, and a “player’s tree” to look for connections.
- Request data early because it might take weeks or months to get it.
Want to learn more? IRE is sponsoring a webinar Oct. 13 at 2 p.m. Eastern, “Doing great work with fewer resources,” and time management for investigations is on the agenda. One of the trainers is Doug Pardue of The Post and Courier newspaper in Charleston, S.C., who coined one of my all-time favorite phrases about investigative reporting: “Listen to the crazies. They may be right.”