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Steve Riley speaks about importance of investigative reporting

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Steve Riley speaks to students about the role and importance of investigative reporting. Photo by Julia Sayers.

By Julia Sayers

Steve Riley, senior editor for enterprising at the Raleigh News and Observer, spoke Wednesday about investigative reporting.

Riley started out as a sports writer but soon after found a job in news, where he was able to write more hard-hitting stories. In 1993, he attended a conference for investigative reporters where Robert Caro was speaking. After this conference he became interested in investigative reporting. Riley liked investigative reporting because he could say “I did the work.”

When writing an investigative piece, journalists must present a fair picture but not necessarily a balanced picture, Riley said.

“You must write with authority,” Riley said. “You spent the time, you did the work, so you are able to tell the reader what the truth is.”

The purpose of investigative reports is to tell the reader what the truth is. Riley said in investigative reports, readers will see a lot of flat statements and assertions.

Riley also spoke about the purpose and importance of editors in the newsroom.

“Editors are not just there to correct your comma splices and move paragraphs around,” Riley said. “They are involved in story development, decide the people we go see and the questions we ask, they make sure we don’t waste time and they make sure stories will have high impact.”

Since investigative journalism is about exposing the truth, the reports must have an impact. Riley said his paper doesn’t want to waste time on stories that won’t do anything. Investigative reporting is important for the country.

“Good journalism is indispensable to the future of the country,” Riley said.

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Written by juliasayers

May 5, 2011 at 11:51 pm

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