By: Mark Fitzgerald
Our reporter finds more than dry case studies at IRE sp.
WHEN MORE THAN 1,000 investigative reporters gather in one place, you’re bound to get a few stories.
Following are some scribblings found in a Portage brand notebook at the Investigative Reporters and Editors 19th annual conference in St. Louis:
Where’s your pass?
Nancy Dunne, a business writer in the Washington bureau of the Financial Times of London, misses the old days in the American capital.
“It used to be you could go to these agencies and sort of roam through the halls,” she recalled.
“Now you’ve got to go through all these metal detectors and wear this badge and sign in and tell where you are going.
“And even if you get someone on the phone for an interview,” Dunne said, “the press secretary gets on and monitors it because he wants to learn, too.”
IRE is one of the few journalism organizations in which newspaper reporters join with television and radio reporters and even a significant number of journalists who live from book to book.
For the most part they co-exist easily, trading tips and techniques.
Occasionally, though, old tensions flare ? as they did at a Friday night “Showcase Panel” discussion exploring the sensational stories that have crossed over from the supermarket and TV tabloid shows to mainstream publications.
For example, Portland Oregonian managing editor Peter Bhatia told, rather gleefully, the story of how row after row of television news camera operators collapsed on each other as they marched backward and fell down a set of stairs while filming skater Tonya Harding.
“I’ve been out there in those feeding frenzies,” an unidentified television journalist shot back from the audience, “and there are just as many newspaper cameramen crowding in as TV cameras.”
At another point, Ira Rosen, a producer for ABC-TV’s Prime Time Live, tried to turn the table on print after chafing under criticism of television’s supposed tendencies to sensationalize.
“There’s a certain sanctimonious attitude on the part of print about TV. I’m hearing the Los Angeles Times had 17 people down in Little Rock [covering sex allegations against Clinton]. How many people will the Times have on O.J. Simpson, 25?”
Times national correspondent William C. Rempel said the paper had “as many as eight reporters” in Little Rock at a time.