Investigative journalists from Lebanon, Hungary, Cambodia, Croatia, Rwanda and Malaysia this week heard Albuquerque Journal reporter Mike Gallagher and FOG executive director Susan Boe talk about using public records to create important stories.
The journalists were brought to the United States by the State Department as part of its democracy and transparency program. They also made stops in New York; Washington, D.C.; Florida and California.
Gallagher, a veteran investigative reporter for the Journal, told the young reporters that they needed to get off their computers and cell phones and build relationships with their sources.
“Sometimes the most important comment is made outside a meeting or as an aside in a face-to-face interview. Digital journalism still cannot replace the need to build relationships with people,” Gallagher said.
He also cautioned the reporters about not jeopardizing their or other lives in the process of being good and aggressive journalists. “I have yet to find a story that was worth risking lives,” Gallagher said. “However, I have attended the funerals of at least six Mexican journalist friends who were reporting on the drug cartels. Many journalists and academics in this country don’t fully appreciate the dangerous environments in which you report.”
Boe also discussed with the visitors the open meetings and public records acts in New Mexico and how journalists use those sources in breaking a story.