Tuesday, November 10, 2015

'THIS IS OUR ROLE'- WHEN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM IS NECESSARY

'This is our role'

WHEN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM IS NECESSARY





Sunday’s Log Cabin presented a case to the public that has been tied up in local courts for seven years. When we were first approached to tackle the issue, there was a series of questions we asked internally to determine if this type of involved and lengthy investigation was feasible for our publication.
“Who would this benefit?”
“Why would people care?”
“Is there a way to resolve the issue? Can we improve on the situation?”
“Is this our role?”
Yes, it was determined: “This is our role.”
Our courts and crimes reporter took on the task of establishing a chain of evidence that would be presented fairly. This was not easy, as much of the original documents would be requested through Freedom of Information Act and dug up from archives and storage buildings. It was an assignment that ebbed and flowed with the investigation and what it would ultimately lend for our readers.
The Log Cabin made every effort to uncover the facts. The question we presented to our readers and the community was “Where and when to prosecute?” We poured through the mounds of paperwork, including more than 2,000 pages of a transcript, trying to find out at what point a custody battle should have become acriminal investigation, ultimately to benefit two minor children involved.
Once on the path of the story, we came to several forks in the road over nearly five months of investigation. There was a lot more to the case we presented. There was a lot of hearsay and speculation, but we only printed what could be corroborated with evidence and fact. Once the story was written, the task was to present it fairly and with as little confusion as possible.
We talked to lawyers and judges involved. We obtained police and prosecutor’s reports and evidence presented in open court. All of the editorial staff supported the effort for fairness and understanding to benefit our readers with edits and questions along the way.
That is why the printed version of the newspaper played such an important role in storytelling. We could literally lay it out on paper so readers could follow the piece with references and resources.
The next phase of the story will be to follow the appellate process and to report resolution as it happens, and the Log Cabin is committed to that resolution.
This is our role.

The Log Cabin editorial board is made up of Publisher Zach Ahrens, VP of Audience/Editor Kelly Sublett and Assistant Managing Editor Brandon Riddle.