In the lion's mouth: Advocacy and investigative reporting about the environment in the early 21st century
Schwartz, Debra Ann
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This study explores what might qualify investigative reporting about the environment as advocacy. It applies a phenomenological approach to gathering and sorting data, which resulted in the identification of several essences of investigative reporting about the environment. This study further analyzes data using grounded theory. According to grounded theory, categories emerge from interview data and, through a process of reduction, produce a mid-range theory. Adhering to method and theory, this work identifies a new kind of investigative reporting the author terms integrated investigative reporting. It appears environment reporters are leading the way on this emerging form. Some investigative reporters writing about the environment go two steps beyond the approach endorsed by Investigative Reporters & Editors, known as The Paul Williams Way. A pioneering finding, those steps have roots deep in phenomenology, a process of meaning making dating back to Aristotle. In that respect, the use of phenomenological process seems to point to a constructivist approach taking hold in news reporting today. This dissertation also reveals that personal narrative is fast becoming a component of investigative reporting, particularly in the form of online diaries. Several more bridges also surfaced in this study. One connects professional and academic research approaches. Another demonstrates an innovative approach to a literature review, which the author calls a literature synthesis. Another shows how to combine objectivist grounded theory with Charmaz's interactionist approach to grounded theory, which study participants described doing in their investigations. This writing refutes the professional idea that training investigative reporters in how to work an environment story requires that more attention be paid to the scope of the story than the process of story collection. Rather, this study reveals that the study participants tease out scope by going two steps beyond standard investigative reporting practice. Challenges to some tenets of journalism appear in this study as well, including Lippmann's notion that "there is but one kind of writing possible in a world as diverse as ours. It is a unity of method" and Kovach and Rosenstiel's notion that journalism of assertion is weakening the methodology of verification journalists have developed.