We’re publishing a series of Q&As with reporters who have published powerful investigative stories. This week, we’re talking to the Center for Public Integrity’s own executive editor Jim Morris, who has been a journalist for 41 years and has covered worker health and safety for much of his career.
Why does reporting on American workers matter?
At their core, workers’ rights stories are about people: Refinery workers who worry about the cancer-causing benzene they’re inhaling or a leaky valve that could cause an explosion. Fast-food workers cheated out of overtime. Office workers who endure sexual harassment. Immigrant workers who fall out of trees, get heat stroke on roofs and lose fingers on poultry-processing lines. Inequality is a major theme in these stories.
What do reporters in this beat need to have?
The best of these stories in my view focus on a worker or group of workers and then broaden out to reveal some sort of systemic problem. We want all our reporters to answer this fundamental question for readers: Why should I care? We want them to think of creative storytelling methods and make D.C.-based policy decisions relevant to people outside the Beltway. I’ve reported on a wide range of topics since the late 1970s, and workers’ rights has been the most gratifying by far. You’re not dealing in the abstract. You’re writing about people’s health, their finances, their dignity.
Takeaway: People’s stories are always at the center of investigative reporting.