Quick and dirty notes on a session on investigative journalism. Good advice that might work for people in other fields:
Mark Hunter INSEAD
How do I:
- find info on situation/person
- organize it for myself
- SELL IT TO MY EDITOR!
WHAT am I looking for?
WHY am I looking for it?
WHERE is the OPEN DOOR?
If you can’t answer all 3 questions: you’re finished before you start…
THE OPEN DOOR
Something that provides access to you – not necessarily hard to find
= START OUT EASY
Think of information as a story from the moment you start your research
Take this into account:
- the available facts
- expose and reconcile the contradictions btw. the facts you find and what you know
What are you looking for….: Test a hypothetical story:
- the best info
- facts can be verified
- can be written in 3 sentences….or less!
NOW – WHERE IS THE OPEN DOOR?
= any source of information you can freely access – a document, an individual, a database
ALWAYS GO THROUGH THE OPEN DOORS FIRST!
Create a chronology
- keep track of data
- suggest relationships btw data
- tell what you are looking for next
= you’re making a database!
Always use the same format to mark your info, eg. a date
(date, names, what happened, supporting documents, list of people) In Word, Excel etc.
The chronology helps you to fill out hole = ask the questions that they can’t avoid answering. When you open the doors you become part of their world and they won’t lie to you. Why? Because, why lie to somebody, who knows the truth?
Hunter made a chronology of 250 pages = a book was written in a moment.
Tips:. Bliv ven med en bibliotikar på Cph Bizz School… You have to have a relationship with a librarian!
Make a map of human sources…. circles distributed on paper people, companies etc. With hyperlinks to documents etc. (my idea)
Look for secondary facts = ask someone else.
- Make you hypothesis in 3 sentences; if you can’t – it’s not a story!
- if you can’t tell people what you are doing – they won’t tell you either
- always go through the next open door (don’t follow a list of research slavishly)
- if the facts don’t add up = it’s not a story
- save the moment when you have to confront somebody = you have to be well armed
Sec. Gov – Edgar DB
Investor texts – financial and market analyst reportage
Unions: treaty, newsletters, web
European case clearing house: ecch.co.uk
= bizz case studies – public domain – goes back 40 years
Your two roles:
The candide = stupid questions
The expert = the informed interviewer
- a mix of the two can be good…
INSEAD makes a seminar for journalists every January – non-profit for INSEAD