Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

Two Minute Tips

Investigative reporting with Michael Grabell

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In this episode, hosts Micki Maynard and Mark Remillard kicked off Season Two of the weekly business journalism podcast How to Cover Money.

This week they talked about data journalism and how to investigate big stories.

Grabell won the top prize in Barlett & Steele for his work on the story Temp Land at the nonprofit investigative reporting center ProPublica.

The Reynolds Center accepts applications for the 2015 Barlett & Steele Awards here. It is named after Don Barlett and Jim Steele, a famous team of investigative business reporters who worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Grabell’s piece analyzed data about temporary workers and found that temp workers at manufacturing plants were about 50 percent more likely to be injured on the job than regular workers.

The ProPublica team had to go to many different states to collect data for the reporting project. Grabell offered several tips for listeners on doing data journalism.

Grabell’s Tips:

  1. Investigate and obtain data to determine whether a trend is happening.
  2. Get victims to speak with you on the record.
  3. Crunch the data using Excel worksheets to see if it is a larger story.

Grabell also said journalists who have to work on their regular beats need to remain persistent when working on an investigative piece in their spare time.

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