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Panel explores the present and future of investigative reporting | JSK

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BETH DUFF-BROWN ('11) | Jul 11, 2016 | News & Notes

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The investigative reporting panel featured, from left to right, Michael Rezendes, Mary Rajkumar, John Temple (moderator),
Marina Walker Guevara and Walter Robinson. photo: Doug Zimmerman

The “Shining a New Spotlight: Innovations in Investigative Reporting” panel was held July 7 at Stanford
University. Video of the panel is available for viewing.
Print newsrooms across the nation continue to shrink and overseas bureaus to shutter as advertising
revenue dwindles and digital platforms take over much of the media market.
Yet the mood was hopeful among some of the world’s finest journalists who gathered at Stanford University
last week. They heard a panel of Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters and editors who believe technology and
collaboration are allowing the industry, and investigative reporting in particular, to thrive.
New tools are leading to a resurgence of respect for the beleaguered print media.
The satellite imagery that caught fishing boats filled with slaves in Southeast Asia; the open-source
visualization tools of massive data dumps shared among journalists across the globe that led to the Panama
Papers; and the shoe-leather reporting by Boston Globe reporters who uncovered sex abuse in the Catholic
http://jsk.stanford.edu/news-notes/2016/panel-explores-the-present-and-future-of-investigative-reporting/

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000 slaves.’” Rajkumar said. “But reporters now are much more resourceful — if they know how to use databases. said AP is using this technology in other isolated and dangerous corners of the world.” Rajkumar said.” said Michael Rezendes. “In addition to reporting the story. can show us which buildings have been leveled and which buildings still exist. an investigative reporter at The Boston Globe who was on the Spotlight Team that won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service for revealing the cover-up by the Catholic Church of sexual abuse by its priests against their young parishioners.” Winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. “We gave them the rough coordinates and they literally just canvassed the whole area until they found them and then they matched the images to previous satellite images.” Rajkumar. the international enterprise editor at the AP who edited the series of stories in “Seafood from Slaves. “We reported our stories at the dawn of the internet era. the series revealed the slavery tied to the Southeast Asia supply chain of seafood in U. “The technology aspect of it is actually really exciting.S. the posting of documents on the Globe’s website was innovative and the team’s use of technology consisted of using a spreadsheet. an array of sophisticated technologies power investigations and accelerate their impact. now editor-at-large at the Globe and also a fellowship alum. At that time. “I knew nothing about satellite imaging until starting this project. But the importance of the Globe’s work gained renewed attention after the release last fall of the movie “Spotlight.” said Robinson.” http://jsk. who has a master’s degree from the Stanford Journalism Program. the editor of the Spotlight investigative team portrayed by Michael Keaton in the film.” she said. complemented by new technology and innovative thinking. The reporting led to the freedom of 2. All are examples of how classic reporting. One of the AP reporters on the team. Stanford students and faculty on the panel. to the satellite imaging that allowed an Associated Press investigative team to track down small fishing boats carrying slaves in Southeast Asia last year — information is still king. DigitalGlobe. “As everybody knows. Rezendes. Today. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford. was a 2001 JSK  Fellow.edu/news-notes/2016/panel-explores-the-present-and-future-of-investigative-reporting/ 2/4 . we posted the documents (online) and they were incredibly powerful because it made our story bulletproof.7/30/2016 Panel explores the present and future of investigative reporting | JSK Church. deputy director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and project manager of the more than 375 reporters in 76 countries who produced the “The Panama Papers. are helping journalism to evolve. brought perpetrators to justice and is leading to reforms. “That’s how we found that the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq had been leveled. who is a JSK alumnus. where it is hard for reporters to be on the ground to verify information. But it can no longer live behind the castle walls. newsrooms today have far fewer resources. “The technology. also sponsored by the Stanford Alumni Association. Martha Mendoza. to help the news agency find boats of missing men who had been held captive for years by the fishing fleets working for seafood companies.” which won the Oscar for best picture this year. Also onstage was Marina Walker Guevara. the satellite imaging.” The panel was moderated by John Temple. `You can’t hide from space. who was portrayed by actor Mark Ruffalo.stanford. most newspapers have half the reporters that they had 15 or 20 years ago. such as Iraq and Syria. was joined onstage by Walter “Robby” Robinson. They were speaking to an audience of some 300 journalists. managing editor of the Investigative Reporting Program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. supermarkets and restaurants. “Shining a New Spotlight: Innovations in Investigative Reporting.” From the Spotlight team’s simple spreadsheets and postings of church and court documents on The Boston Globe website more than a decade ago. The AP used a company.” said Mary Rajkumar. “As they said.” said Rezendes.” The two-hour conversation was part of the 50th anniversary reunion of the John S.

“So now we’re more likely to collaborate than ever before. “Technology allowed us to look into these massive amounts of documentation is a smart way.” Rezendes said of The Boston Globe.edu/news-notes/2016/panel-explores-the-present-and-future-of-investigative-reporting/ 3/4 . Guevara said the source of the leaks remains unknown. for example. Unlike the seafood investigation — where Rajkumar said it was very hard to document the ma-and-pa companies that were enslaving their workers — Guevara said their problem was the overwhelming amount of documents the journalists had to sift through. collaboration and technology are moot if you can’t turn the data into a human narrative.stanford. but still.” Guevara agreed. but called it a difficult “radical change.” he said.” she said. “the most important thing I did was get a guy to talk to me. “If you don’t have all that — there’s no coding or social media that’s going to give you a great investigative story. “We’re taught to be lone wolves — that’s what investigative reporters are. In the Catholic Church scandal. arms deals. And documentation. “It’s very hard to shake that spirit of competition. “We’re in a golden age of data journalism right now. he said. and live to beat their rivals. finding your evidence. entrepreneurship and leadership. But investigative editors are going to have to realize that their reporters are not going to be able to call all the shots. going to court and filing your FOIA requests.” Rezendes conceded collaboration is the future. But the students in the audience who were considering journalism.7/30/2016 Panel explores the present and future of investigative reporting | JSK Eleven million leaked financial and legal records from a little-known law firm in Panama earlier this year showed how heads of state.” Share: The John S. even the gender of the whistleblower known as “John Doe” is a secret. financial fraud and drug trafficking. criminals and celebrities have been using secret offshore companies to facilitate bribery. talk to people and do the hard work before they break stories. Not with one or two reporters. we give twenty outstanding individuals from around the world the resources to pursue and test their ideas for improving the quality of news and information reaching the public. It took hundreds of coders and engineers and programmers around the world to turn the leaked documents into evidence that reporters then turned into narrative gold. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford foster journalistic innovation. “Being able to rely on the open-source technology that is out there … helped us to visualize the networks to see how the people and money were connected. she said.” Guevara believes journalistic collaborations such as the massive.” Guevara said. needed to know that good reporters leave their desks. but with hundreds.” “We used to have seven foreign bureaus and now we have none.” she said. but let’s not forget the basics of traditional reporting and the collecting your documents and building your case. tax evasion.” Rezendes said. “And we are telling the lone wolves now: join the pack and share your scoops. How else are we going to hold the powerful accountable with diminished resources?” But reporters have egos. unprecedented ones that resulted in the Panama Papers are giving new life to the industry. http://jsk. “I think that young students would want to learn about platforms and coding. Each year. the data has to be brought alive with real people.

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