It may seem like an unlikely union: an old-guard public television station paired with a small, online journalism start-up. However, the two share the same commitment to strong reporting and storytelling.
Each organization, said KCTS Senior Producer Ethan Morris via email, brings different strengths to the collaboration: “InvestigateWest’s reporters are seasoned investigative journalists who have a specialized set of skills that literally take years to develop: in-depth research, database analysis, Freedom of Information Act requests, cultivating confidential sources, etc. Our producers have a separate set of skills in visual storytelling. We build our stories around the video and audio we collect with a specific focus on story narrative and arc.”
The first result of this collaboration, a 12-minute video called “Lifesaving Drugs—Deadly Consequences,” aired on KCTS on July 9 and 12; MSNBC, the Seattle Times, NPR and PBS also shared the piece. The organizations plan to collaborate on four projects a year, with a focus on environmental issues.
Carol Smith, Senior Writer at InvestigateWest, sees the collaborative model play a role in the future of journalism: “Collaboration is a way to leverage each other’s resources and talents to get the most eyes and ears possible on stories that matter.”
Morris agrees: “This may be the future of journalism – creative collaborations that benefit all sides. Our story put a face on Investigate West’s story, and evoked more emotion than a written piece could have on its own. We aired our story first, then cross promoted and drove people to read the full story on the Investigate West site, so it was a win-win situation.”
The promise of the partnership—investigative journalism with a layer of compelling storytelling—is already evident in the heartbreaking “Lifesaving Drugs—Deadly Consequences,” the story of Sue Crump, a pharmacy technician who developed cancer after years of handling chemotherapy drugs.
Sue’s daughter approached Rita Hibbard, InvestigateWest’s Executive Director and Editor, following a conference and urged Hibbard to tell Sue’s story– a story other journalists had turned down. The details resonated with the team, who saw the potential to expose an injustice no other source was addressing. They dug deep into medical records over the course of a year, during which Sue lost her battle with cancer.
View “Lifesaving Drugs—Deadly Consequences” at KCTS 9 Connects.
Helen Pitlick is a recent MCDM grad. She works as Social Media Coordinator at LexBlog, and hasn’t quite figured out what she’s going to do with her spare time now that she is no longer a student.