Investigative reporting must be fair to subjects
by Chris Roush
David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning tax reporter for the New York Times who now writes a column for Reuters, spoke at the University of South Carolina on Wednesday as part of its journalism program’s business journalism initiative.
“Before publishing a story he knows could ruin someone’s life, Johnston said he asks himself, ‘If this were me, and I had done all these things, would I feel that I was treated fairly?’
“If the answer is yes, he feels that he can publish the story.
“That test came into play on what he described as one of the best days of his life, when a man he sent to prison entered his office.
“His first thought was that the man was going to shoot him. But the man explained in a rough voice that he was close to dying, and though he didn’t like what Johnston had done, the man thought he was fair.
“The anecdote underlined his advice to aspiring investigative journalists.
“‘Do ordinary things in extraordinary ways,’ he said.”
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