The Investigative Critiques: Ignoring The Signs

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The CBS3 I-Team has uncovered a huge danger from something that happens every morning.

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The stop signs on school buses are largely ignored, as shown by CBS3’s investigation through hidden cameras.

Your child goes out to a school bus every morning but the danger still lies that some careless driver will ignore the stop signs from the side of the bus and potentially put your child’s life in danger.

When we talk about determining value of a story, this certainly takes the cake. I wouldn’t be surprised if this story ran specifically during the morning show to capture attention and make parents aware of this huge problem.

Charlotte Huffman and the CBS3 I-Team did the right thing by contacting a mom who is concerned by the issue and they set up a hidden camera that monitored the number of cars that just passed. The evidence was startling since the cameras proved that basically no one was obeying the traffic laws.

CBS3 also used an great graphic to clarify the rules of the road. They showed that if there is no median, traffic in all lanes is supposed to stop. However, if there is a median, traffic that is directly behind the bus is supposed to stop while traffic in the opposite lanes are allowed to move freely.

What I liked about Huffman’s story is that she left no rock unturned. She answered all her questions that she presented and found the appropriate people to do so. Unlike the story from a few weeks ago that I posted, this report is thorough and well delivered with a message that is very alarming, if you’re a parent.

This is an issue that’s not just specific to Philadelphia and the entire viewing area, this is a problem across the country. Every morning, there are millions of children that are getting on and off school buses that might not realize the danger since drivers aren’t obeying the law.

 

 

The Investigative Critiques: A Mayor, Money, And A Whole Lot More

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People in Johns Creek are footing the bill for a costly investigation that could end with one very simple solution.

This story comes to us from the NBC affiliate in Atlanta, Georgia, WXIA-TV.

Any time there’s an investigation that surrounds a public official, it’s almost certain that it will attract attention and this story is no different.

While this story may have aired quite a while ago, it still has merit to the reporting. It’s really quite interesting how this investigation could basically end if the mayor turned those documents over but he simply refuses.

It’s then the job of Jerry Carnes to expose this investigation that’s costing taxpayers thousands of dollars. The investigation certainly has value because this is affecting the lives omoneyf the people he governs.

Carnes does a great job of trying to get a response from the city councilman that honestly does make sense. Why haven’t they bothered to file a formal ethics complaint? The answer with that goes unanswered, which is something that I’m bothered by.

From one of my interviews that I conducted, it’s always important that you get answers. Basically, what’s the point of even doing investigative work if you’re going to leave the viewer on a cliff. This is where I’m starting to be a little wishy washy on the reporting of this.

While is certainly packs a powerful punch on the terms of impact, this certainly leaves a lot of questions relatively open-ended.

The Investigative Critiques: Cashing In

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WCVB’s Kathy Curran investigates why a WWII Veteran ended up with a massive car payment when it was SUPPOSED to be free.

They’ve given us countless years of service across the world and it’s time we give back to them. Sure enough, the VA has done that for our veterans who have gone off to war. However, the benefits that get back from serving in those wars often becomes a point of contention.

Take this case for example, Mike DiPadua served in World War II and was finally able to get his first new car of his entire life but the problem is that there was red tape getting in the way of DiPadua getting the benefit he deserved.

The problem is mounting and there could be many cases like this across the country. This story certainly has value to any veteran that has served in wars because they want to know if they’re going to get the benefits that they worked so hard to earn. But more importantly, this not only affects veterans but their caretakers too, whether they be sons, daughters, or others.

Kathy Curran did exactly what you would expect an reporter to do and went straight to the source. She went to the car dealership to see why the only option for a new car was a $567 per month payment. The general sales manager explained that they can’t do much about that since it’s not a free car from them but instead from the VA.

It was a challenging story to do but this is what Tom Meyer discussed earlier. The best part about doing this job is getting results for people and serving as a voice to the voiceless. This very well could be one of the best stories this semester that we’ve uncovered.

More Proof There’s Growth

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There are continued signs of growth in the investigative journalism market as one local station in Washington D.C. has added a new reporter to their staff. 

Emily Miller joins WTTG as an investigative reporter who left her senior editor position with the Washington Times for this gig. 

We’ll put some stories under the microscope this week and have a new post from Tony Kovalevski later this week. Stay tuned! 

From The Pros: Brian Maass, KCNC-TV (Part II)

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There have been a number of stories that have been shared on this blog that have been able to make a difference. Deanna Dewberry helped consumers understand odometer fraud in Dallas-Fort Worth and the lack of street lights in Tuscon. Both of those stories were attempts to help solve a problem and often with good results.

Investigative reporter Brian Maass from KCNC-TV in Denver shares an example of a story that he did recently that was able to make a difference.

“The most recent example is from last July. We started to do a series of pieces about special license plates that our state legislators have that exempting them from certain types of citations,” Maass said. “Consequently, one legislator saw our stories and he introduced a bill in that legislative session to get rid of those license plates or at least amend these plates so they get the same tickets that everybody else. That’s currently working their way through our legislature right now.”

That’s a story that doesn’t immediately seem like it would affect the viewer but it does. The elected officials are getting preferential treatment and that’s something that should be changed. Maass’ work is making that a reality.

The field we’re trying to break into isn’t an easy one and it’s important that we know that. Maass said be prepared to do more than just 40 hours a week.

“You can’t be afraid of working extremely long hours and it extends well beyond your work day. You just have to really be willing to make a time commitment and realize how much of it is very unglamorous. You have to have a lot of curiosity about a lot of things and you can’t be afraid to ask hard questions,” he said.

Maass said that the beauty of the investigative story is that it’s unlike anything that you’ll work on day to day.

“You just really have to realize that you can do a general assignment story, turn around, you’re done and you go home. These stories continue to take time on an ongoing basis. A lot of it is like the iceberg, where you see a small amount above the water and there’s a lot happening beneath the water,” Maass said. “So much of it is working your sources every day and not for a story you’re working on today but maybe a story you’re working on down the road.”

We’ll hear more from Brian Maass a little later in the week.

Until then, keep on digging for those hard hitting stories.

 

The I-Teams Are Growing

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We’ve mentioned this before but the times are changing in the news industry.

Luckily for the readers of this blog, the investigative field is growing once again, which is exactly what we want to hear.

Here’s two news articles from the website TVSpy announcing the growth of two investigative units in some of the biggest markets in the United States.

WPIX-TV, the CW affiliate in New York City, has picked up a former competitor and added him to their new investigative unit.

WPIX-TV, the CW affiliate in New York City has signed a reporter that used to work at a rival station to strengthen their unit. Arnold Diaz joins a team of Howard Thompson, who leads “Help Me Howard,” and Mary Murphy

WLS-TV, the ABC affiliate in Chicago is also pumping money into their investigative unit with a statement being issued by news director, Jennifer Graves. The I-Team there is appearing on their 6pm broadcasts five times a week and three times during their 10pm broadcasts.

WLS-TV, the ABC affiliate in Chicago, is pumping funds into their I-Team

This is great news for aspiring journalists. Keep digging.