“Why don’t you get your investigative reporters on that?”
This is a question we get quite often in Squamish.
It is often said with a sense of outrage that we don’t have a team of reporters meeting in garages after dark getting envelopes Deep Throat-style to expose some alleged cover-up.
It is a funny-not-funny remark for reporters.
To be clear, we definitely do investigate things that go on in town and expose wrongdoing when we find it. We file Freedom of Information and Access to Information requests and dig into what we get back.
Our reporters live for that stuff.
But thanks to movies like Spotlight — which chronicled the investigation by several reporters at The Boston Globe and resulted in the discovery of widespread sexual abuse in the Catholic Church — and the more recent She Said about The New York Times investigation into sexual abuse by Harvey Weinstein, the public has a misconstrued idea about what an investigative story involves.
We don’t have investigative reporters per se at The Squamish Chief.
What we do have is an investigative team through our parent company Glacier Media that digs into bigger issues provincewide.
Meaning we don’t have someone(s) who can dedicate many months or years to one story, working on nothing else, travelling to do interviews with multiple sources in far-flung places.
Our reporters cover many “beats,” from council to sports to arts to school board and more — often all within the same week, sometimes within a single day.
An investigation into a single story over months costs far beyond what any small-town community media company can take on.
Not just the reporting but the legal checks that are required for any controversial story mean investigative journalism stories can cost millions of dollars.
While the figures for the Spotlight investigation have not been made public, reports are it cost several hundred thousand dollars — in 1990s money.
So instead, community outlets like ours pick away at complex stories and bring readers bite-sized morsels until it is a full “investigative meal.”
Here’s the main point — it costs money to cover the news.
Mynewsdesk reports that each 500 to 800-word story costs between $100 – $1,000 to produce in resources, labour, and the like.
So if you value the news and are able, it would be awesome if you could support the creation of more of it in Squamish.
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Jennifer Thuncher is a Squamish journalist and the editor of The Squamish Chief.