Of all the various forms of media, there has never been one more vitally important to society than that of investigative journalism. However, until the 1960’s law did not protect investigative journalism within the United States. Once these laws of protection were established investigative reporting exploded within America, especially during the Watergate scandal that occurred when Nixon was president. This enthusiasm for the truth is just as important and relevant as it always has been even in a technological and Internet based society. However, to better understand how investigative journalism currently plays a role within society Susan Baldridge, an investigative reporter for the Lancaster Newspaper (LNP), was asked questions about this form of media.
Baldridge, who worked on a series about the heroin epidemic in Lancaster, says simply the type of investigative stories LNP writes have do with the public’s interests. “We are always on the lookout for issues that are important to the public. Usually they are issues that haven’t had a lot of light on them so far,” she explains.
Investigative journalism is also usually very costly, which is one of the reasons most small newspapers cannot compete with corporate owned ones. However on this issue Baldridge disagrees in regards to LNP. “We do not have a set budget for investigative journalism so it does not affect which stories are covered,” she says. “The company supports investigative journalism and has devoted resources for the time it takes to cover issues in a more in-depth way than ever before. When we investigate, it’s done carefully and with a team of people that ensure accuracy and depth” she explains further.
As far as how LNP conducts their investigations, Baldridge expressed that the newspaper takes this role seriously. “An investigation usually proceeds as we first ascertain the facts of a particular situation, develop sources and push officials to supply information that can be used to dig deeper. Editors and copyeditors and fellow team members fact check.”
Despite all of LNP’s hard work and dedication some issues do arise simply because they are locally owned and not corporate. Therefore measures must be taken to stand out. Baldridge explains that LNP is doing this by, “concentrating our coverage, including our investigations, on our own community. It’s important to our public and it’s something other media outlets can’t offer.”
Additionally due to society’s attitude towards media, newspapers are struggling to catch consumers’ eye, which therefore hurts revenue, and disallows departments such as investigations to conduct good work. Although investigative journalism seems to be going through a rougher patch in terms of its ability to conduct investigative journalism and perform its watchdog role in society due to the public’s current interests, the form of media is still extremely important to society. Ways to make it stronger, especially technologically, are being looked at. However, I believe Baldridge explained the rise and fall that is investigative journalism best. “It can be a slow process but when an investigation gets rolling, it is invigorating and inspiring to other reporters. It reminds all of us why we got into journalism to begin with–to make a difference in the world,” she concluded. Her words give me hope and inspiration about the future of investigative journalism, especially in a world where society believes whether or not Kim Kardashian and Kayne West could be getting a divorce is important.