July 06, 2012

A request from Tommy Thomason

Got this note in from Tommy Thomason, professor at TCU's Schieffer Journalism School and director of the Texas Center for Community Journalism:

I’m looking to find some of America’s outstanding community journalists, and I thought my fellow COMJIG members might be able to help. 

I’m currently writing a book about investigative reporting in community journalism. Most folk see investigative reporting as the exclusive province of the dying metros, but some of the unsung heroes of journalism are doing great investigative pieces in small communities with limited staff, resources and budgets. These are the folk who work on their investigative stories until they have to take a break to go cover the county agent speaking to the Rotary club. 

I’m writing the book with Kathy Cruz, a reporter with a community paper in Texas who is herself one of the best investigative reporters in community journalism. It’s titled “You might want to carry a gun:  Community newspapers expose big problems in small towns.” And this is where I am hoping my COMJIG colleagues can help – we’re still on the lookout for more outstanding examples of community journalists who have done important investigative stories. 

We’re especially interested in those who have overcome some obstacles to complete their work – threats to their safety, community resistance to the story or series, advertiser resistance to the investigation, problems with their colleagues at the paper … you get the idea. We’re telling their stories, and to make the book more useful to journalists and students, we’re passing along the how-to’s that show the techniques behind the investigation.  

We’re not interested in papers that show courageous editorial leadership – this is a book highlighting reporting.  These reporters tend not to be well-known; only a few, like Samantha Swindler, end up having "60 Minutes" do a piece on them.  But that’s why we want to tell their stories and to share their techniques.  

If you know of a reporter or editor who might be a good profile for us, please let me know.  Just a name and a paper, and maybe a sentence about why you think this person should be in the book.  We’ll take it from there.  Email me at t.thomason@tcu.edu.

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