Friday, February 16, 2007

Eric Nalder

This week, an investigative reporter named Eric Nalder is visiting the University of Oregon. He has spoken at two of my classes and will be at the Emerald later today. I'm also taking a workshop from him over the weekend.

Nalder is known for being able to get even the most reluctant sources to speak with him on the record. He gets the subjects of his investigations to speak, sometimes about things that could get them thrown in jail.

Anyway, he spoke in my classes and he's just fascinating. I love investigative journalism, although I'm not sure I have the tough personality required to deal with angry sources just yet, and I'm totally amazed by his stories. It's funny that I've always been a tad obsessed with Watergate, but even reading All the President's Men (and watching the movie), it is hard to grasp just how much work those reporters did. Listening to Nalder speak about his own investigations makes the entire concept of an investigative report that much more "real" and exciting. He's here mostly to speak about his tips for interviewing, and I'm just thrilled to learn how to apply those techniques in day-to-day interviews, as I've always thought that was the weak point of my reporting. I just get nervous if I think a source will be upset at all.

I'll write more about this after the weekend's workshop. I can't wait. We already read the investigative report the workshop is about (did I mention Nalder has won two Pulitzers?). It's this amazing story about corruption in the Seattle Police Department. This cop was basically doing no work for years, befriending prostitutes (and tipping off the madames if there was going to be a bust), buying drugs, etc. In the end of this long criminal investigation, all the charges were dropped and he was allowed to retire and still receive a pension. It's really fascinating.