When I hear the term “investigative reporting,” I think of Pulitzer Prize pieces, long hours of research and elaborate data. But honestly, all reporting and all journalism entails an aspect of investigation. Investigative journalism and investigative reporting can apply to all beats.
A journalist should always be asking “how can I/you verify this?”
In journalism, solid reporting allows you to notice trends, think about the impact something has on people, how a story could possibly invoke change, who the stakeholders are, etc. This thinking takes a basic story to the next level in providing an investigative dive into that story or topic.
As a journalist, it is so crucial to think about how you can look deeper into a story and see its broader impact or broader meaning.
MU School of Journalism’s Mark Horvit identified three levels of stories: basic, context and investigative. He said you shoot to be in the top level for every story you produce.
A basic story entails an event or item and you report on it. The second level, context, perceives a pattern or trend about that event or item. And the third level, investigative, looks beyond to explain the cause, impact, who’s to blame, etc.
Every story should be a top level story.