On August 24, 1992, Hurricane Andrew made landfall at Miami as a Category 5 storm. The affects were devastating.
In December 20, 1992, the Miami Herald published a 16-page special report that examined weather records, building inspection reports, and damaged buildings.
Their reporting showed how “lax zoning, inspection and building codes had contributed to the destruction”. They won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for this reporting.
Want to add social science methods to your toolbox of investigative reporting skills? What follows are some ways to consider doing this:
Cynics would say “precision journalism” is an oxymoron, like unbiased opinion or civil war. But precision is an ideal to be sought in journalism, though not often achieved.
As defined by Knight Ridder reporter Philip Meyer in his groundbreaking 1973 book of the same name, precision journalism is the use of the tools of social science to replace, or at least supplement, reporters’ time-honored methods of citing anecdotal evidence and doing educated guesswork. Today, thanks to Meyer’s call, I’m one of hundreds of investigative reporters who have crafted serious stories using such tools as survey research, statistical analysis, experimentation and hypothesis testing. It’s social science done on deadline.
Bill Dedman received the Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting in 1989 for researching and writing these articles.
The first series, published May 1-4, 1998, disclosed that Atlanta’s banks and savings and loan institutions, although they had made loans for years in even the poorest white neighborhoods of Atlanta, did not lend in middle-class or more affluent black neighborhoods. The focus moved to lenders across the nation with the January 1989 article, “Blacks turned down for home loans from S&Ls twice as often as whites.”
via The Color of Money.
Deep Throat Meets Data Mining
In the nick of time, the digital revolution comes to democracy’s rescue. And, perhaps, journalism’s.