Vicki Krueger summarizes some tips you can use in writing an investigative report.
Working on investigative reports is different from daily reports. The following tips will help you hone your focus on writing the initial reports.
Before you start writing a report:
- If you work with other reporters, build a collaboration system. This may involve in-person meetings and / or via digital devices.
- If you use a database or multiple databases to collect information for the news, organize the way you manage the database. Immediately make a copy of the database. Work only on the copies you make so you always have the original data.
- Be sure to take detailed notes on data analysis, even if all you are doing is sorting the data.
- Check your report plan, and note priorities. Is there one document you will need before starting interviews? One person talking to someone who will open other doors for your investigation? Prioritizing will help you understand your list and schedule.
When you create a report:
- Keep your interviews, documents, and report notes in an organized file so you can find them quickly. Organize your information in a way that allows you to access it efficiently.
- Write a brief weekly memo, noting who you talk to, what documents and records you examine and what you see in the files.
- Periodically review these memos and key documents as you write your report. What may not be important at the beginning of the story may end up being the focus of the investigation. (*)
"How to focus your reporting while working on an investigation," Poynter.org, May 13, 2016