Helping Armenian Reporters Dig Deeper

Fleeson, Lucinda
June 2005
Nieman Reports;Summer2005, Vol. 59 Issue 2, p78
This article presents the author's experience in teaching investigative reporting techniques to Armenian journalists. In January 2004, the 10 Armenian journalists were flown to Washington for a week of seminars in American-style reporting. Then each of them, accompanied by a translator when warranted, was dispatched to an outstanding newspaper or television station located in cities around the U.S. For two weeks they observed investigative practices, often working alongside reporters at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, or KNBC in Los Angeles, California, among other sites. My mission was to work with the journalists individually on story projects of their own choosing. While the reporters had promised to send progress reports from Armenia by e-mail to me in the ensuing months, I heard little from them. I feared for the worst. After I arrived in Yerevan, Armenia in May 2004 and began meeting with them, I found that nearly all had made substantial progress. Some had finished major projects. As trainers, we coach from the sidelines; it is the reporters and their editors who must decide whether or not to put their organization behind a controversial story. After all, it is they who could be fired or find that all the copies of their newspaper suddenly disappear, and it is they who could have their station suddenly lose its license or be visited in their office by heavyset bodyguards of criminal kingpins.


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