By Rachel Miller
Away from their offices and cubicles, their continuously ringing phone and long list of leads, five journalists, who all once worked at Newsday together, discussed what investigative reporting is like in the field today. The event held on the eve of Woodward and Bernstein's arrival to the University and sponsored by the campus chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, included personal stories from the journalists as well as tips for students wanting to make a splash in the media industry after graduation.
The nice weather on March 19 led to a less than expected turnout, but this allowed for a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The journalists told stories about what first drew them to investigative journalism.
"One of the great things about journalism is you can really just chase your curiosity," said Sandra Peddie, an investigative reporter at Newsday.
Peddie followed her curiosity from her home in Minnesota to New York, where she quickly experienced the realities of the investigative reporting game.
"You have to yell at your editors," said Peddie. "You have to fight for the stories you care about." Many investigative journalists work on big projects on their own time and pitch stories to editors when they are ready to be run. Journalists are no longer paid to work on one project for five years because of time constraints and budget concerns.
"You're not going to walk into a job at a paper where you can just sit and work on something for three months," said Tom McGinty, an investigative reporter at the Wall Street Journal. "There aren't many of those jobs left in the business."
While the job openings are limited, Jo McGinty, an investigative reporter at The New York Times, says traditional journalism values still apply.
"When you think about investigative reporting, it doesn't have to be a giant project. It's sort of a mentality," said Jo McGinty, an investigative reporter at The New York Times. She believes investigative reporting means getting documents to back up stories. The panelists joked that no one would want to be investigated by McGinty because she is persistent and never gives up.
The event ended with a question and answer session where Tom Maier, an author and investigative reporter at Newsday told students to acquire video and photography skills or any talents that would set them apart from their journalism peers.
"It adds a whole new dimension to the work," said Maier.