Gary Cohn, Shipbreakers - Covering the Green Economy

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A step-by-step guide to taking your local environmental story global.
Gary Cohn is a freelance investigative reporter, adjunct journalism professor at University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism and winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. Cohn spoke at Covering the Green Economy in June 2010.

Published in: News & Politics, Technology
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Gary Cohn, Shipbreakers - Covering the Green Economy

  1. 1. The Shipbreakers
  2. 2. Shipbreakers: From Baltimore to Brownsville to Bombay <ul><li>A Step-by-Step to taking your local environmental story global </li></ul>
  3. 3. Anatomy of an investigative story <ul><li>Learn the fundamentals of reporting and writing – and you can do groundbreaking investigative environmental stories </li></ul>
  4. 4. Getting started <ul><li>An editor’s key question – How does this industry operate everyplace else? </li></ul><ul><li>What would you do? Where would you start? </li></ul>
  5. 5. The workers – the heart of this story
  6. 6. The workers: obstacles we faced <ul><li>How do you find workers and persuade them to talk on the record </li></ul>
  7. 7. An ethical dilemma <ul><li>Balancing the need to get workers to talk on the record </li></ul><ul><li>versus </li></ul><ul><li>A desire to protect them from being fired for speaking out or deported </li></ul>
  8. 8. The Shipbreakers persuading them to talk
  9. 9. Getting the Navy to answer our questions <ul><li>What to do when someone won’t talk to you </li></ul><ul><li>An alternate strategy to get answers from the Navy </li></ul>
  10. 10. Public Records <ul><li>Court records – Mendoza case in Brownsville </li></ul><ul><li>Bankruptcy Court records – underlying economics of the shipbreaking industry </li></ul><ul><li>FOIA </li></ul><ul><li>OSHA records </li></ul>
  11. 11. The key economic issues <ul><li>Understanding the economics of the shipbreaking business was a key to cracking this story. </li></ul><ul><li>Public records, revealing sources </li></ul>
  12. 12. The Asbestos Issue <ul><li>The issues, the science </li></ul>
  13. 13. The Asbestos Issue <ul><li>Finding and talking to victims – how we found the men who built these Navy ships decades ago </li></ul><ul><li>The two key questions to ask yourself when looking for hard-to-find information </li></ul>
  14. 14. The Regulatory Issues <ul><li>Who was responsible for overseeing the Navy’s shipbreaking program – and why the regulation was a failure </li></ul><ul><li>Practical tips for reporting on the regulators in environmental stories </li></ul>
  15. 15. Taking the local story global <ul><li>How we learned about the US Navy’s plan to send its old ships overseas for scrapping </li></ul>
  16. 16. Reporting in India <ul><li>Strategies for reporting environmental stories overseas </li></ul>
  17. 17. How to deal with obstacles overseas <ul><li>Stringers and fixers </li></ul><ul><li>The language problem – and the use of interpreters </li></ul>
  18. 18. The Writing Process <ul><li>How we decided what stories to tell </li></ul><ul><li>Pulling the project together </li></ul><ul><li>Importance of clear and compelling writing when telling an investigative or complex business investigative story </li></ul>
  19. 19. Impact and follow-up <ul><li>Congress holds hearings </li></ul><ul><li>The White House prohibits the Navy from sending old warships to the Third World </li></ul>
  20. 20. Why was this a good topic for an investigative story <ul><li>Told readers something they didn’t know </li></ul><ul><li>Revealed a systemic wrong </li></ul><ul><li>Possibility of reform </li></ul>
  21. 21. A tough balancing act <ul><li>How you can successfully cover your beat – and also pursue big stories </li></ul><ul><li>Tips for convincing your editors to give you the extra time you need </li></ul>
  22. 22. Questions
  23. 23. Summary <ul><li>You can do groundbreaking investigative work if you master the fundamentals of reporting and writing </li></ul>

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