Wieland: The importance of investigative reporting during the coronavirus pandemic

CBS4 (Denver): It’s well before sunrise and investigative reporter Brian Maass is already deep into his planning process for the day. He’s sent an email detailing progress on several stories, and suggesting reports that might turn for both our newscasts and our website in the day ahead. There are tips that still need to be vetted, interviews scheduled to confirm details or question public officials, reporting to be sent to the lawyers. And of course the writing, re-writing, editing and re-editing. Investigative reporting is time and resource intensive during the best of times, and these are not the best of times. Newsrooms are short on time, and short on resources — just as our work is more vital than ever. Given that dynamic, you might ask — why do it? Here’s why we are putting a priority on investigative reporting here at CBS4.

First, investigative reporting — done well — is a service to the community. These days, it is literally a matter of life and death. Digging deeper, analyzing data, questioning public officials and holding leaders accountable is what they do every day. But now they are doing it to protect the health and safety of our front-line health care workers, essential employees, neighbors, friends and family. They do it to make sure business owners get the funds needed to keep their dream alive and keep employees on the payroll. They do it to make sure those who have lost their jobs can collect unemployment benefits so they can pay bills and provide for families. And they do it to make sure we’re all protected from things like price gouging and scams so common in a crisis.

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