NASHVILLE – Sports journalists need to do a better job to incorporate investigative reporting into their daily routine.
Tuesday’s “Investigations 101” workshop at the 2018 Associated Press Sports Editors conference included Steve Politi, sports columnist for The Star-Ledger and NJ.com and Matt Stanmyre, sports enterprise, projects and investigative reporter with NJ Advance Media.
As an example, Stanmyre and Politi detailed a newspaper investigation from last year that focused on a high school basketball coach who housed as many as six players.
At least eight international boys and girls basketball players came from virtually nowhere to play for Eastside High School that later became the focus of state and federal investigations. Once the investigation began, the coach altered his company’s website, but Stanmyre and Politi were able to find the previous version of it using Archive.org.
“If you see something that doesn’t add up, look deeper, look deeper,” Stanmyre said. “Have a skeptical eye when you’re looking at any story you’re working on.”
As journalists, we’re often so indulged with our beat or day-to-day routine that the thought of investigative journalism appears to be a daunting task. However, Politi advised that you should set aside time, even in your personal life.
“You’ve got to make time for it,” Politi said. “One of the best skills you can have as a journalist is the ability to multitask.”
Kevin Manahan, sports director for NJ.com, stressed the importance of generating your own story ideas.
“If you’re expecting your editor to come up with good enterprise ideas, you’re in trouble,” Manahan said. “Some editors manage 40 people, go to meetings all day and read a ton of content. Having the ability to hear something and recognize something just on your beat is important. If you’re waiting on something to come from the office, it’s not gonna happen.”