5 - If you could share one big lesson that you learned during this process about being an investigative reporter, what would it be?
Keith: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” was my mantra throughout this process because it was really ingrained in me that, just like a marathon runner, getting to the finish line with an investigative piece involves juggling short term goals and benchmarks while always keeping in mind what is needed to finish strong.
Elizabeth: A lot of the characteristics needed to cultivate sources (and consequently information) merely mirror those virtues of our human relationships--honesty, listening, patience, kindness, understanding, etc. Furthermore, working on an investigative team is like being on a sports team: The coach is your editor and the athletes might bring different skill sets, but you have to work together for the best story. On a practical level, I learned the value of diligent organization--especially on a long term project--where scrupulous notes will pay off months and months later.
Hillary: What really struck me during this investigation is how much reporters can use social science skills. Before starting this investigation assignments like creating a national survey or even interviewing dozens of trauma survivors would have intimidated me. However, one of the best parts of being a fellow at Columbia University's Journalism School is the access you have to other departments and professors there who are willing to help you out. With guidance from the Statistics and Public Health departments my team was able to mine the first ever data on online dating sexual assault in the United States, and with consultations from journalism industry experts who came to speak to us during the Brown Bag Lunches my editor Kristen Lombardi started we were able to report on sexual violence in an ethical way.
The Beat is an interview series with the School's postgraduate fellows that educates the public on how deeply reported investigations are made.
*Sociomedical Sciences Department and Statistics Department