A panel of experts discuss the complexities of investigative journalism from a reporter's perspective. They discuss the challenges of going in-depth on a story, and explore the new opportunities that online media presents.
The journalists include: Susanne Rust (Knight Fellow), Tom Blanton (National Security Archive), David Barstow (New York Times), Ricardo Sandoval Palos (Center for Public Integrity), and Rebecca Peterson (60 Minutes). The panel is moderated by Lowell Bergman and IRP Fellow Ryan Gabrielson.
David T. Barstow
David Barstow, a senior writer at The New York Times, is the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes. In 2009, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for “Message Machine,’’ his series about the Pentagon’s secret campaign to influence coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2004, he and Lowell Bergman were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for articles about employers who committed egregious work place safety violations that killed or injured hundreds of American workers. Barstow joined The Times in 1999 as a reporter on the Metro Desk, and he has been a member of the newsroom’s investigative unit since 2002. He is also the recipient of three Polk Awards, the Goldsmith Prize, the Alfred I. duPont Silver Baton, and the Barlett and Steele Gold Medal. Prior to joining The New York Times, Barstow worked at The St. Petersburg Times in Florida, where he was a finalist for three Pulitzer Prizes. Before that, he worked at the Rochester Times-Union in upstate New York and the Green Bay Press-Gazette in Wisconsin. Barstow, a native of Concord, Mass., is a graduate of Northwestern University, which honored him with an Alumni Award in 2010.
Business reporter Richard Behar has garnered more than 20 major journalism awards over a career spanning 25 years. He was called one of the most dogged of our watchdogs by the late Jack Anderson, a founding father of modern investigative reporting. From 1982-2004, Behar worked on the staffs of Forbes, Time and Fortune magazines. He has also done assignments for the BBC, CNN, FoxNews.com and PBS.
In 2005, Behar launched Project Klebnikov, a global media alliance committed to shedding light on the Moscow murder of Forbes editor Paul Klebnikov and to furthering investigative work.
Lowell Bergman, Director of the Investigative Reporting Program, is also a producer and correspondent for the PBS documentary series Frontline, and the Reva and David Logan Distinguished Chair in Investigative Journalism at the Graduate School of Journalism.
Thomas S. Blanton
Thomas S. Blanton is Director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University in Washington D.C. The Archive won U.S. journalism's George Polk Award in April 2000 for "piercing self-serving veils of government secrecy, guiding journalists in search for the truth, and informing us all."
The Los Angeles Times (16 January 2001) described the Archive as "the world's largest nongovernmental library of declassified documents." Blanton served as the Archive's first Director of Planning & Research beginning in 1986, became Deputy Director in 1989, and Executive Director in 1992. He filed his first Freedom of Information Act request in 1976 as a weekly newspaper reporter in Minnesota; and among many hundreds subsequently, he filed the FOIA request and subsequent lawsuit (with Public Citizen Litigation Group) that forced the release of Oliver North's Iran-contra diaries in 1990.
His books include White House E-Mail: The Top Secret Computer Messages the Reagan-Bush White House Tried to Destroy (New York: The New Press, 1995, 254 pp. + computer disk), which The New York Times described as "a stream of insights into past American policy, spiced with depictions of White House officials in poses they would never adopt for a formal portrait." He co-authored The Chronology (New York: Warner Books, 1987, 687 pp.) on the Iran-contra affair, and served as a contributing author to three editions of the ACLU's authoritative guide, Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws, and to the Brookings Institution study Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940.
Ryan Gabrielson covers public safety for California Watch and the Center for Investigative Reporting. He was a 2009-2010 fellow at the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley. His reporting on an in-house police force at California's board-and-care institutions for the developmentally disabled exposed how officers routinely failed to do basic work on criminal cases, including suspicious deaths. Previously, he was a reporter at the East Valley Tribune in Mesa, Ariz. In 2009, he and Tribune colleague Paul Giblin won a Pulitzer Prize for stories that showed immigration enforcement by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office undermined investigations and emergency response. Gabrielson’s work has received numerous national and state honors, including a George Polk Award, an Online Journalism Award for investigative reporting, and a Sigma Delta Chi Award. A Phoenix native, he studied journalism at the University of Arizona and began his career at The Monitor in McAllen, Texas.
Ricardo Sandoval Palos
Sandoval Palos was named project manager at The Center for Public Integrity's International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in February, 2010. Before joining The Center, he was assistant city editor at the Sacramento Bee, where he supervised environment, science, and regional development coverage. He was also the paper's weekend city editor.
At The Bee his team covered stories such as the H1N1 flu outbreak in California, the causes of several incidents of food-borne illness, the daunting task of overhauling the region's transportation infrastructure, and the impact of climate change in particular its effect on the critical water supplies from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Before joining The Bee, Sandoval Palos was a Latin America correspondent, based in Mexico City, for the Dallas Morning News and Knight Ridder Newspapers. In Mexico he wrote about drug trafficking and the serial murders of women in Ciudad Juarez. In Venezuela he reported on the rise and fall and rebound of Hugo Chavez and in Colombia he covered failed peace talks between the government and FARC rebels. Sandoval Palos' career has spanned three decades and includes award-winning coverage of the savings and loan scandal and the deregulation of public utility companies.
He was born in Mexico and raised in San Diego, California. He's a graduate of Humboldt State University in Northern California.
Rebecca Peterson is an associate producer for 60 Minutes. She has also worked on Face to Face With Connie Chung.
Rust was born and raised in Briarcliff Manor, New York. She received her bachelor's degree from Barnard College. After doing field research in biological anthropology and working as a fisheries biologist, she began her journalism career in 2003 as a science reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, covering the endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda, civil engineering in Rwanda, and sustainable agriculture in Costa Rica.
In 2009, she and a colleague were Pulitzer finalists for investigative reporting, "for their powerful revelations that the government was failing to protect the public from dangerous chemicals in everyday products, such as some 'microwave-safe' containers, stirring action by Congress and federal agencies." Their investigation of the chemical industry and its influence on U.S. regulations and policies also earned the team a George Polk award, a John B. Oakes award for distinguished environmental reporting, a Scripps Howard National Journalism award, and a Grantham award of special merit. In 2008, the team won a Sigma Delta Chi, an award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, as well as an honorable mention from the Barlett and Steele award. The team was also featured on the Bill Moyer's Journal show, Expose.