Investigatin' is hard work. And I'm not even a full fledged investigative reporter. At all. I mean, I know I'm in a promo, and hot shot SF Gate writers are even posting about it, but let me be the first to acknowledge some of the haters who delight in trolling about and posting their snarky comments about how everything sucks including the *^&%*& who make up the new Investigative Unit at NBC Bay Area.
I'm not sure how much I can safely write about the goings on inside The Unit without getting #&^%$%# from my job, but we're in a business of asking for forgiveness, not permission, so I'll use my best investigative judgment.
We are human and we have bosses. We don't call all the shots. We don't create the commercials. We can't help it if our logo is emblazoned on all 40 signs at the Pleasanton BART station. That's not to say we don't like it and we don't appreciate the amount of intelligence, resources, and strategery that went into putting this team together and launching it in a big way. We investigate and we will be darned if you don't know it. Is it prolific? You bet.
Local TV news hasn't seen this kind of a campaign in a very long time and kudos to the people who are making it happen because for every one troll bug, I hope there's at least a Gordo36 who said, "I think the commercials are interesting. What a novel idea that viewers would rather be informed about the possibility of rodent feces in the food they buy on the shelf than another fire or murder in Richmond! And kudos to them for spending the money on a team dedicated to getting to the bottom of city politics or big business/corporations taking advantage of us average Joe's. I wanna think I'm smart enough and deserve better from TV News--Thanks NBC for finally giving it to us!"
We actually try to uphold the tenets of good journalism. That means telling stories that you might not otherwise hear. It means giving a voice to those who wouldn't have anywhere else to turn. It means, as commenter Jon Swift posted on my blog, "you guys have a big stick." And as I wrote back, we try our best to wield that stick as effectively as possible. Don't even think I'm not aware of The Unit and big stick quadruple entendres going on right now. I'm a journalist. We think about all types of word smithery.
It's corny when you hear me say that we give a voice to the voiceless and hold the powerful accountable but that's what good reporting does. I happen to also believe in crafting memorable stories and asking interesting questions and trying to have fun at my job but that's not always possible with hardcore investigative journalism. As someone who went from general assignment reporting to investigative reporting, I'm learning a new skill set. A boat load of new skills.
Investigative journalism is a lot more data-driven. It's Excel spreadsheet loving. It's memo-culling. It's using your BS detector 24/7 on the "Max" setting. Trust no one. Look for the agenda in everything. Take no prisoners and make sure you're all buttoned up or you can get the pants sued off of you. For someone who just put on a mustache to do this story a few months ago, trying to pull my weight on a team with Tony Kovaleski and Stephen Stock is more than a tall order. It's a venti. Fine, a grande. And I'm not even into Starbucks.
I've been back from maternity leave a couple months now and I'm starting to find my inner Allyson Felix. I only wish I looked like a perfect gazelle when running like a cheetah. So bear with me, and The Unit, as we try to do something 96% of local TV news stations aren't really working on. Original reporting that creates change and makes a difference, with extraordinary production value and unique content. I shall miss the 'staches though.