Books -- Investigative Reporting for Print and Broadcast by William Gaines

By Gribbin, August | The Journalism Educator, Summer 1994 | Go to article overview

Books -- Investigative Reporting for Print and Broadcast by William Gaines


Gribbin, August, The Journalism Educator


William Gaines won a Pulitzer Prize for his investigative reporting. He ought to win one now for his book exposing how investigative reporting is done.

But they don't give Pulitzers for journalism texts--not even for standouts like Gaines' Investigative Reporting for Print and Broadcast. If they did, his would be a contender. That's because it renders meritorious service by stripping obscurities and generalities from an explanation of such journalism and reveals the dedication, intelligence, and almost obsessive intensity investigative reporters need to succeed.

Besides, some parts of the text are fun--for example, it contains narratives that read like fiction.

Gaines has invented Gladys Tydings and Bud Munn, investigative reporters of the fictional Daily Metro. Their exploits constitute investigative "case histories" that appear in 11 of the book's 13 chapters. The succinct, well paced accounts are based on actual investigative projects or composites of projects. They have Gladys of Bud pursuing stories dealing with official conflicts of interest, waste in government, fraud in government programs, auto repair scams, health care irregularities, and kickbacks to a U.S. Congressman.

The two reporters develop stories generated by reader tips, hunches, editors' whims, and by working on other stories. In the process, the reporters confront a galaxy of utterly realistic technical, ethical, and personal problems, and the way they solve them makes for effective instructions.

Gaines' text explains how to find and understand court records, business documents, land records, and other public papers--much of the territory covered in Paul Williams' Investigative Reporting and Editing and in Investigative Reporting (Second Edition), the David Anderson and Peter Benjaminson work. …

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