tv Washington Post Discussion on Protecting Local News Panel on Investigative... CSPAN April 7, 2019 7:38pm-8:01pm EDT
up here, to make sure we are removing fake accounts. we take down a million a day , which is where the most damaging stuff comes from and we have whole teams to work on civic engagement and integrity gearing up with that retired 30,000 people around content, so there's a lot going on. that said, i think that we all know that, like crime, bad actors are always changing their ways, so we have to stay vigilant and think around the corner. i hope we can do that. sarah: we would love to have you back. anne: i would love to. sarah: unfortunately that is all , the time we have. thank you so much. thank you for your attention. [applause] margaret: good morning, everyone. i margaret sullivan, media margaret sullivan, media
columnist of the "washington post," and i am very had the to happy to be here today with three incredible journalists. we are very lucky to have them here atand to hear about their work. i am excited to introduce them. andrew chavez, senior computational reporter at the "dallas morning news." he was part of the investigative team of "pain and process" who revealed thousands of texans were being denied life-sustaining drugs and treatments by private contractors hired by the state to manage their treatment. next to him is julie k. brown, an investigative reporter at the "miami herald," whose recent investigation "perversion of justice" just won a polk award. it examines a plea deal given to affluent palm beach sex abuse or r jeffrey epstein. and sitting closest to me here is sacha pfeiffer, investigations correspondent at npr. sacha was part of the "boston globe's" spotlight team that won the 2003 pulitzer prize for public service after revealing the catholic church's cover-up
of widespread clergy sexual abuse. so we are really lucky to have them, and we will get into it now. so you have all done outstanding investigations work at local newspapers and other organizations. something i think people do not always understand is how time-consuming that reporting is, so tell us a little bit, using your specific experiences, why it takes so long. andrew. andrew: sure, so we were dealing with this massive system, the biggest line item in the texas budget. it is regulated by the largest state agency in the country and that have come up like, about 50,000 employees, so to get inside of the takes a huge amount of effort. we ended up, by the time we were done with this, with i want to say around 70,000 pages of records, so you can imagine that reading that an understanding that and unpacking that takes a huge amount of time, and then
also turning around in a narrowing that down in a way that we can explain that to people, where they can care about the stories of the people that we are telling, it is a huge undertaking. and obviously making sure that all that is accurate, it is a huge amount of work, and it think that a lot of time, and you do not see the efforts until the end. margaret: how long did it take? andrew: about 18 months, and that was with us doing other ,tuff in between, off and on but it was well over a year to write this story. margaret: and well worth it. andrew: absolutely. margaret: julie, how about you? julie: well, i began with some tips that i got at this case, which had been written about pretty widely over the past 10 years -- it was a 10-year-old case. i sort of approached this case, there was of course lots and lots of documents, and i approached this case the way i think a police detective who
joins the force, opens up a box, and has a cold case and insight they decide they want to do a forensic examination of it after all of these years. so what do you do? you have to go over every single piece of evidence all over again. and what happens when you do that sometimes is we discover new things in that evidence, or you find people who back then did not want to talk, and maybe now they want to talk. in this particular case, i actually began this project, which was about the abuse of probably hundreds of young teenage girls in palm beach by a very wealthy billionaire. i began it by trying to figure out who the girls were, because they were under age, nobody knew who they were. i thought to myself if i could get them now, they were teenagers then, and now they are in their 30's, they might be willing to talk about this, is especially in the wake of alexander acosta, the prosecutor, being nominated for president trump's cabinet post,
so it just took a long time to , you know, just deconstruct the whole case, find the women, and start from scratch, essentially. margaret: congratulations on the work. it is fantastic. julie: thank you. margaret: sacha, you have done a lot of interesting work, and the most high profile of which was spotlightn globe" series or investigation that was turned into a movie that we have all seen, right? let's talk about how long it took to do that investigation. a relativelyas quick investigation, only because part of it involved us trying to unseal public records with the help of the "globe's" lawyers. successful.were we really had to race to make that we reporting had done for five or six months did not go to waste, and we could do our stories.
there is a huge public records document to these stories, and there is an appeal to rejection of public records requests. you can a scene where track what priest is in which church and where did they move over the years. a the movie, it was about three-minute exciting montage of us in different places. was three weeks of absolute tedium that i think probably damaged all of our eyesight, because we were having been so carefully go through the directories, but that is the reality of this work, time-consuming, tedious, a big payoff in the end, but not quick. margaret: exactly. one of the things that i worry about as someone who cares a lot about journalism is investigators are journalism -- is investigative journalism is so expensive because of the time, staff, lawyers, and all of those sort of things, that in
this time for local journalism, we will not be able to do as much of it. i guess what i want to ask you is whether or not enough people to go around in metro daily staff,ms that have lost should investigative journalism get higher priority than routine coverage of local government meetings and so on, which also are important? prioritize? we may have a little bit of a bias, but how do you see it? i will start again with you, andrew. andrew: i do not think it is necessarily either or. i think all of those things can be covered with an investigative focus. are fortunate that we have an investigative team, but at the time, we were working on this project, we were not out doing those sorts of things, but i think those two happen to be together. we found this story, because my out on theartner was
beach and was in austin and was hearing things that ended up being some of the main findings of our serious, so, you know, i think they have to both have been together, and i think the more that we cover things at investigative accountability lens, the better. re, and the best investigations, many of them, do come out of deep recording, so there is kind of a double whammy happening as there are fewer beat reporters out there, there is fewer knowledge, so we may not know as much of what's going on. julie, how do you see it? o'neill,remember tip the former speaker once said, which was all politics is local , and at "the herald," we placed
a great emphasis on local reporting, and we have a great staff. we always feel like we play over the weight. we have a lot of reporters even in a story we are working on now the chinese woman that got arrested at mar-a-lago. we were getting tape after tape and some of the people are the beat reporters, and in order to make the stories have been, i think that is part of the way we are trying to do investigative journalism. at "the herald" is very special spotlight team or are the investigative reporters worked into the newsroom as a whole? julie: we have a core investigative team, but they
work with some of the reporters when something happens. we are very good at that because we are lost to become excited about good stories, so it's exciting to work with younger reporters quite frankly who know how to do social media a little bit better than older reporters and everybody has their , specialty and that is what they once we do work quite frankly. margaret: sacha, so you moved to npr and you may see this question from a couple different directions. how would you prioritize? sacha: this would be unsatisfying because to make the call about how to allocate resources, but i think you have to preserve both because of the stories do bubble bath. -- do global up. bubble up. there is a little paper in the blackstone valley that covers 24 communities in massachusetts and rhode island and one got a lot of attention recently because he said i'm often the only reporter at municipal meetings i go to and many of them i am not able
to attend, and he was reflecting on what does that mean for local news coverage or the lack of local news coverage, and we have to try to find a way i think to think differently about how we cover the news because things are not good for newspapers that -- i want to be optimistic, but the prospect are not good and we have to find ways to collaborate to think less, competitive and more collaborative to pair up with radio and nonprofit, because the end goal was covering the news if it isn't to get it first and only. margaret: that plays into my next question for all of you that you've done a lot of your , most of the work that's been done on the panel has been done as newspapers and local regional newspapers are really under fire and really under siege. i think we put the numbers up on the board earlier, but there's a recent pew study that says most people, 71% of people, american citizens don't realize local news is anything but financially healthy when the reality is we are really in trouble. so, you know so, to what extent
, do you think the new nonprofits and other organizations that we are seeing come up can do the work that's been traditionally done by local newspapers? andrew. andrew: i think there's great potential. i think there's great potential, and i welcome all journalism in whatever form and however it is paid for. i think we are starting to see that right now, both through the collaborations of the local reporting network that came up earlier and through the smaller nonprofits that are popping up around the country. my home state is new mexico. i see investigative stories coming from nonprofits there that directly impact the rural area where my parents lived , where there is a lack of. it was one of those newscasters on the map earlier, and i'm
-- news deserts on the map earlier, and i'm seeing stories coming out due to that, due to those nonprofits, and if it were going to happen, without those nonprofits, i think it would have happened already. margaret: julie, is there going to be enough to supplement what's being lost? julie: i hope so. it's already starting to work for a lot of newspapers to work collaboratively with some of these organizations like the pulitzer center. mcclatchy just did a big piece, that is our parent company, did a big project where we joined together with 10 of our local newspapers and the trace, which is a nonprofit media organization and has been advocating for gun control, and we did this very powerful piece over the country and all the gun deaths all over the country that
had happened. we did it by working together along with the trace to do that . it was pretty powerful. margaret: you are so hopeful. i love it. i'm actually not. [laughter] margaret: but that's ok. i want to start with you on this next question. long journalists don't always understand how we do our work. what would you like people to know about how investigative journalists work, beyond what they learn in the spotlight? many: "spotlight" -- people after seeing that movie would say things like do you really knock on doors like that ? and i thought that is such a basic part of our job, but as we learn from the study you mentioned where people don't know about the news, i guess i hope people realize how really good reporters suspended time and energy and thought. we try to be fair and talk to as many people. i wish people understood how much hard work and effort goes into it. i know that is a broad answer, but i think that there is an enormous payoff when it's done really well, and i wish people
would be aware of what is lost when we don't have it. julie, what do you wish people understood? julie: in a lot of the stories, you go after very powerful people, and it's sometimes intimidating. fortunately i work for a paper , that supports me, but everyday you are every day you are out there fighting for records, fighting to talk to people who often don't want to talk to you, and then you often have people that come after you, and i don't know how much the public realizes how much we fight for the work we do in some cases. margaret: and andrew. andrew: what we do costs money, and if you read one of these stories and the box pops up, and you think it's important and it made the world a better place, put in your credit card, and
make it happen some more, because just on this story alone, we spent over $20,000 just fighting records requests. we got the cut the salaries of two people for 18 month, and the team that went into editing and shooting the photos. talkedium that sacha about, that's absolutely part of this, and it is time consuming work. and it is not cheap. margaret: right. investigative journalism is judged by results for impact, legislative reform, for example. in your opinion, is this the main way we should judge the quality of an sdk that reporting? sacha? sacha: i think that is a hard question. publica has wrestled with what is the meaning of the impact.
i want to say one other thing about something you asked, and then i will post the question to someone else. the knight foundation is an example of this. propublica has tried to create these open source tools so they can do their own data driven investigations. npr has created a network where they say we have got 1800 reporters and 200 euros around the country regional country expertise. if we think of it as a nationwide network of euros we can try to replace what is being lost by newspapers and that is what we need to try to experiment and do if we cannot totally save all of our newspapers and a lot of the print reporters are coming to places we need to find ways to integrate them so we can continue doing what we used to do in a different way. margaret: and fast, right? fast. and impact. of course impact is important. how important is the legislative reform and measurable change? we were just talking about that and it seems like in these , projects they launch and there's all this fanfare, and it
got to do something, we have that to change this. it often happens, and i think one thing all the media doesn't do enough of is to keep following up on the stories after those, because often what happens is there's all this legislation that gets proposed and then six months down the , line, whatever happened to that bill. so i think that the media needs to do a better job of pushing for that, and one way to do that is to have some people in the community get involved in the running of a florida prison project i could possibly keep up with all of the reforms happening but a lot of the activists that came and rose up from the project really worked to keep -- they had marches in tallahassee about prison reform, and it helped that there was the community of people that became
activists as a result of the stories. may be the way to answer this is to describe what has come from the pain and profit. we found a wide number of flaws in the system for caring for the elderly and sick kids. everything from the doctors that were promised for not actually were not actually there, services were being denied. and we have seen a package of bills moving through the legislature right now to address almost all of those things. i think there's over 20 bills one of them is an omnibus bill that sort of just through the story almost, and i do think that matters and it is a good sign that we are writing about things that can be fixed. it's a good thing that you are writing about things that resonate with people, and i think that the more we can present our stories in a way that provides those solutions in
addition to just pointing out the problems, the better our work is. margaret: i'm guessing that there was a lot of public response to the series. andrew: there was. there was legislative hearings in the weeks that followed where many of the people from our stories got to come up and tell their legislators. margaret: absolutely. i have many more questions, and i know we could talk about this for a long time, but we are just about out of time so i want to thank this fabulous panel for the work they have done and for being here. [applause] margaret: if you would like to watch full interviews from the program, you can do so at washingtonpostlive.com. thank you so much for coming. thanks to you. [applause]
>> at a sunday afternoon meeting with president trump at the white house, homeland security secretary kristen nielsen submitted her resignation. the president tweeted this message. secretary of homeland security kirsten nielsen will be leaving her position and i would like to thank her for her service. i am pleased to announce that kevin, the current u.s. customs and border protection's commissioner will become acting secretary for dhs. i have confidence that kevin will do a great job. following her senate confirmation, secretary nielsen took over the position on december 6, 2017. we will have more on the resignation of homeland security kirsjen nelson at 9:00 a.m. is next, historian douglas brinkley talks about his book "american moonshot."
at 9:00, prime minister's questions from the british house of commons. leland'st, new parliament debates a ban on semi automatic weapons and a wake of a march terrorist attack on two mosques that killed over 50 people. ♪ brian: doug brinkley, your new book "american moonshot." what's it about? is about how john f. kennedy put all these political chips on the idea about going to the moon by the end of the. 1960's the big gnome -- the big moment was made 25th, 1961. he gave an afternoon speech to joint session of congress.