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Published with Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. (IRE), The Investigative Reporter’s Handbook is the best-selling classroom and newsroom classic. Useful as a textbook in advanced journalism courses and as a reference for professional journalists, this book shows students how to use fundamental news reporting and writing skills like gathering sources, tracking information, and interviewing to pursue investigative stories in a variety of beats — from the government and education to healthcare, the environment and real estate. In addition to discussing the latest techniques and challenges in the profession, the fifth edition is now thoroughly streamlined, making it easier to locate the resources that investigative reporters need to get the story.
Brant Houston is the Knight Chair in Investigative & Enterprise Reporting at the College of Media at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was the executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) and a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism for 10 years. The author of three editions of "Computer-Assisted Reporting: A Practical Guide," Houston served as managing director of the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting for three years after working in daily journalism for 17 years. He was an award-winning investigative reporter at The Hartford (Conn.) Courant, The Kansas City Star and several news organizations in the Boston area. Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting. IRE was formed in 1975 to create a forum in which journalists throughout the world could help each other by sharing story ideas, newsgathering techniques and news sources.
Table of Contents
PREFACE ABOUT THE AUTHORS Part I: The Basics: How to Investigate Anyone or Anything Chapter 1: The Investigative Process The Investigative Process Choosing a Subject for Investigation The Research Hypothesis Secondary Sources Having a "Documents State of Mind" Human Sources Research Techniques Organizing Information Questioning Conventional Wisdom The Paul Williams Way Step 1: Conception Step 2: Feasibility Study Step 3: Go/No-Go Decision Step 4: Base Building Step 5: Planning Step 6: Original Research Step 7: Re-evaluation Step 8: Filling the Gaps Step 9: Final Evaluation Step 10: Writing and Rewriting Step 11: Publication or Airing of the Story and Follow-up Stories Chapter 2. Secondary Sources Newspapers Finding the Right Newspapers Stories and Announcements Legal Notices, Police Reports and Classified Ads Non-Newspaper Secondary Sources Broadcast and Cable Sources Magazine and Newsletters Reference Books Dissertations and Theses Books Libraries Search Techniques Key Word and Citation Searches Bibliographies Secondary Source Databases Chapter 3. Primary Documents Specific Primary Documents Using Social Security Numbers Public Records Vital Records The Uniform Commercial Code Liens and Tax Documents Primary Documents Databases Commercial Databases Government Agency Records Government Databases Depository Libraries Technical and Scientific Sources The National Archives System Putting It All Together Using Primary Documents: A Real-Life Example Using Primary Documents: A Sample Investigation Chapter 4. Computer-Assisted Reporting Finding, Accessing and Using Computer Databases The Tools of Computer-Assisted Reporting Finding Databases and Deciding Which to Use Keeping Databases on Hand Gaining Access Local Data Sources Politics Business and Economy Property and Tax Records Guns and Crime Education Courts and Jail City and County Government Infrastructure Accidents The Environmental State Data Sources Federal Databases Demographic Data Other Federal Data Sources Chapter 5. People Trails Identifying and Evaluating Sources "Formers" and "Currents" Whistleblowers Outside Experts Locating Sources Online Tools Telephone Directories City Directories Workplace Directories Personal Habits Useful Documents and Records Mapping Power Structures Interviewing Sources Researching the Source Looking for Credentials Fraud in Resumes Getting in the Door Understanding the Source’s Motivations Preparing Questions Structuring the Interview Taking Notes and Following Up Chapter 6. Writing the Compelling Investigation The Fundamentals Writing an Effective Story Getting the Details Avoiding Clichés and Stereotypes Writing from Chronologies and Outlines Story Structures Focus and Resolution Leads: The Opening Sentences Middles: Flow and Momentum Point of View and Tone Endings Chapter 7. Ethics of Investigative Reporting Ethics and Accuracy Fairness and the Law The Golden Rule Dilemmas in Reporting Obtaining Information Covertly Conducting Ambush Interviews Exposing Private Behaviors of Public Figures Using Unidentified and Paid Sources Writing Ethical, Accurate Stories Line-by-Line Accuracy Check Prepublication Review Part II. Investigating the Government Chapter 8. Investigating the Executive Branch The Players and Processes Understanding Government Agencies Using the Federal Register Making Sense of Agency Budgets Consultants and Contractors The Contracting Process Budget and Management Watchdogs Investigating Federal Affairs The Top Executive Cabinet Appointments Conflicts of Interest Inspectors General The Permanent Bureaucracy Public Affairs Personnel Public Authorities and Self-Regulatory Organizations Investigating State and Local Affairs The Governor Public Employees Campaign Finance Corruption Using the State Register Chapter 9. Investigating the Legislative Branch Investigating Congress Following the Money Campaign Finance Lobbyists Financial Disclosure of Legislators Resources and Perquisites in Office Personal Character Making Legislation Authorizations and Appropriations Committees and Oversight Government Accountability Office: The Research and Investigative Arm of Congress Investigating Local Legislatures Following the Money Lobbyists Other Paper and People Sources Chapter 10. Investigating the Judicial System Approaches to Investigating the Judicial System The Judicial System as a Political System Two Tracks: Civil Cases and Criminal Cases Tracking the Civil Case Tracking the Criminal Case: From Arrest to Sentencing Between Arrest and First Court Appearance From Jail to Courthouse Initial Appearance in Court Pretrial Hearings The Assignment of Judges The Jury Case Backlogs Victims of Crimes Sentencing Appeals Investigating Punishment: Prison, Probation, Parole, Commutations, and Pardons Gaining Access to Prisons Prison Conditions Probation Parole Commutations and Pardons InvestigatingJuvenile Cases and Family Court Juvenile Cases Family Court Investigating Judicial Operations and Personnel Court Budgets and Court Operations Personnel Judges Prosecutors Defense Attorneys Wrongful Convictions Investigating Specialized Courts Traffic Court Municipal Court Divorce Court Probate Court Small Claims Court U.S. Tax Court U.S. Bankruptcy Court U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit U.S. Military Courts Chapter 11. Investigating Law Enforcement Investigating Local Police Monitoring Individual Law Enforcement Officers Recruitment Training Raises, Promotions and Pensions The Top Command Discipline of Wayward Officers Moonlighting Police Reporter Edna Buchanan’s Tips Preventing and Investigating Crimes Murder Rape Domestic Violence Narcotics Vice Missing Persons Stolen Property Arson Bombings Traffic Violations Organized Crime and White-Collar Crime Juvenile Crime Investigating Other Aspects of Law Enforcement Patrol Officers, Dispatchers and 911 Operators Crime Scene Technicians and Crime Laboratories Evidence Rooms Coroners and Medical Examiners Canine (K9) Corps Civil Rights and Community Relations Resources for Investigating Law Enforcement Crime Statistics Budgets and Contracts Records Divisions and Public Information Officers People Trails Paper Trails Chapter 12. Investigating Education Issues in K-12 Education Student Test Scores School Violence and Discipline Student Retention Curriculum Class Size Technology and Corporate Sponsorship Special-Needs Students Race, Class and Gender Equity School Choice Investigating School Personnel and Facilities Teachers Administrators School Staff School Buildings Approaches to Investigating the Schools Following the Money Private Schools Homeschooling Vocational and Trade Schools Issues in Higher Education Document Trails Public University Revenues and Expenditures Accreditation Documents Enrollment and Retention Diversity, Disabilities and Affirmative Action In the Classroom Outside the Classroom Athletics Campus Safety Faculty Administrators Support Staff Governing Boards Part III. Investigating Business Chapter 13. Investigating For-Profit Businesses Investigating Companies The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Annual Reports Federal Regulatory Agencies State and Local Business Agencies The Paper Trail: Public Documents The Paper Trail: Other Document Sources Human Sources The Overlooked Resource: Labor Labor Lawyers and the Courts Investigating the Workplace Labor Unions Labor Relation Boards Mediation, Conciliation and Arbitration Safety and Health Wage Enforcement Pensions State Employment Securities Divisions Investigating Licensed Professionals Finding Licensing Documents The Licensing Process Professional Associations as Sources Investigating the Protectors Chapter 14. Investigating Non-profit and Religious Organizations Investigating Charities and Foundations Where to Begin: Questions and Documents The Gaul and Borowski Model Form 990: The Annual Informational Tax Return Fund-raising Techniques and Conundrums Foundations Federal, State and Local Government Regulation Investigating Religious Organizations Chapter 15. Investigating Financial Institutions and Insurance Investigating Financial Institutions Government Regulators Banks Savings and Loans Credit Unions Credit Card Companies Investment Companies and Mutual Funds Investigating the Issues Redlining and Community Reinvestment Insider Transactions High-Risk Transactions Money Laundering Investigating Insurance Health and Disability Insurance Life Insurance Auto insurance Homeowners’ and Other Property Insurance Commercial and Professional Insurance Investigating the Players Company and Their Finances Agents State Regulators The Government as Insurer Workers Compensation Chapter 16. Investigating Health Care Investigating Hospitals Accreditation and Regulation Costs and Billing Hospital Errors Indigent Care Ambulances and Other Emergency Medical Services Investigating Other Care Providers Veterans Administration Hospitals Nursing Homes Mental Health Institutions Home Health Care Companies Physicians, Nurses and Other Health Care Workers Investigating Suppliers and Services Health Maintenance Organizations Medical Research and Journals Pharmaceutical Companies Pharmacies Medical Device Companies Medical Laboratories Blood Banks Part IV. Investigating Issues Chapter 17. Investigating Energy and Utilities Investigating Utilities State Regulation Federal Energy Regulation Gas and Electric Utilities Nuclear Power Water Utilities Communication Utilities Cable Utilities Chapter 18. Investigating the Environment Investigating the Environment Regulation: The Environmental Protection Agency Other Federal Agencies Using the Toxic Release Inventory Air Pollution Water Pollution Soil Pollution and Hazardous Waste Chapter 19. Investigating Transportation Investigating Land Transportation Cars Car Inspections and Driving Records Drunk Drivers Motorcycles and All-Terrain Vehicles Trucks and Buses Taxis and Limousine Services Bridges and Roads Railroads Hazardous Waste Mass Transit Investigating Aviation Pilots and Flight Crews Air Controllers and Ground Crews Airlines Security Commuter, Cargo Planes and Government Flights Using Air Databases Airports Investigating Water Transportation Commercial Shipping Coast Guard Regulatory Agencies Chapter 20. Investigating Real Estate The Document Trail: Finding Real Estate Records Ownership Government Documents Liens Mortgage Documents Issues in Real Estate Investigations Property Values and Tax Assessment Landlords and Tenants Development, Zoning and Rezoning New Developments Low-Income Housing Chapter 21. Investigating the World of the Disadvantaged Investigating the Issues Special Challenges Financial Exploitation Employment Children and Families Homelessness Health Care Investigating the Programs Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Child-Support Enforcement Food Stamps Other Child and Family Nutrition Programs Other Assistance Programs Welfare Reform