AP Creates Regional Investigative Teams

By: E&P Staff

The Associated Press is creating four regional investigative teams that will provide reporting and presentation resources for the cooperative?s reporters around the nation, AP Senior Managing Editor Mike Oreskes announced in a memo to staffers Monday.

?These teams, tapping some of AP’s best reporters and editors, will serve as a resource for AP journalists across the country, an engine for producing ground-breaking, exclusive journalism that is important to millions,? Oreskes wrote.

Each team will include journalists with specialties in computer-assisted reporting, public records access and Flash interactives, he said.

?Training money is going toward further building these skills among the team members,? Oreskes said. ?The teams will work closely with our video producers to make sure our exclusive journalism is designed from the beginning to work on all our platforms.?

The memo did not name members of the team. The complete memo follows:

Colleagues,

In today’s world of tweets and sound bites, it’s easy to lose sight of journalism’s essential role in holding governments and institutions accountable. In fact, investigative journalism has never been more important or more vital than it is today, a fact repeatedly driven home by the attention and play generated by our best AP Impact enterprise. All of our studies of how our content is used–and this includes text and video and interactives and photos–show that there is a hunger for the exclusive. A desire for news we break!

Today, AP is making a significant commitment to this kind of journalism by creating four regional investigative teams to complement our existing national and Washington based investigative reporting operations. These teams, tapping some of AP’s best reporters and editors, will serve as a resource for AP journalists across the country, an engine for producing ground-breaking, exclusive journalism that is important to millions.

Each team will include specialists in computer-assisted reporting, public records access, Flash interactives, and good old-fashioned source reporting. Training money is going toward further building these skills among the team members. The teams will work closely with our video producers to make sure our exclusive journalism is designed from the beginning to work on all our platforms.

What kind of stories will we take on? Almost any subject can merit deeper inquiry. The goal is to do more of what we are already doing. Look at how Jim Davenport and Brett Blackledge?s reporting on the South Carolina Governor’s use of state, commercial and private planes prompted a full ethics inquiry. Or, Justin Pritchard alerting consumers to cadmium-tainted trinkets. And David Caruso finding dubious health claims among 9/11 litigants (one New Jersey cop claimed he was at ground zero when the records showed he worked 40 hours a week on the other side of the Hudson!).

We should set our sights high. Now, any reporter in a region who has an idea for a story that requires high-level data analysis will have a partner. If an editor has an idea for a project that lends itself to an interactive map or another data-driven multimedia project, they can work with the team. When a big, breaking story happens anywhere in the country, we’ll tap the region’s I-team to begin digging into public records and inspection reports while the story is still developing, not days after the fact. Each team also will work on its own projects, as well as with other reporters in the region, with members of various AP beat reporting teams, with the investigative teams in other regions, and with Rick Pienciak and the national investigative team. The projects will be at once national and local, meaning we’ll produce big-picture, hard-edged enterprise, often with a strong database component that will allow for easy localization. A premium will be placed on turning up vital news of importance to a wide cross-section of the audience, whether the audience is statewide or global. The measure of success is the depth of the story and its impact on those involved. Our state reports will benefit. Our national report will benefit. And most importantly, the users of the AP will benefit.

The investigative teams will begin diving into their first reporting efforts in the coming weeks. So if you have ideas and suggestions that would benefit from their involvement, please be in touch with your regional editor.

Mike Oreskes

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