The Sun Herald’s coverage of Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd’s indictment is an excellent example of thorough investigative reporting. Being a journalism student, it’s hard sometimes to see how investigative reporters find all of their information and follow the facts, figures, and leads that create a dynamic story package. This package about the small town sheriff showed me that investigative reporting isn’t really about the facts, numbers, etc. What it’s really about is following your instincts as a journalist and never settling for public officials “word” on a subject. In other words, don’t take their word for it. An example of this is the reporting of the fact that the Sheriff would not release the financial records of a bank account he said was set up as a non-profit. The Sun Herald found out through the IRS and Secretary of State Office that is was in fact not a non-profit and was set up through the county’s tax identification number.
This is just one example in an expansive list of time when the Sun Herald really questioned the status quo. If more newspapers did this kind of quality investigative reporting, would there be more public officials called out for their under the table dealings?