Occasionally I find myself trying to explain what it takes for a journalist—and what it costs for the news organization supporting him or her—to do a substantive original story. To avoid boring them, I just say you have to track down dozens of people and ask them lots of questions. And then, unglamorously enough, you have to call each of them again and ask the same questions over again, confronting them on the contradictions in the things they all said the first time around.
Too late. They're bored, unable to imagine the length of the slog. I'm always wanting to show them the swamp. Cleaning out my desk over the weekend, I ran across this incomplete page of source notes from a piece I did 13 years ago.
Yes, this is what heavy duty journalism looks like. Damn, I haven't made one of these in awhile. I'd like to make one again soon.