Change is often painful, and great discomfort is a necessary precursor to growth. Nowhere is this more evident than in the state of the news media. News outlets are in a state of crisis.
But on a day-to-day basis, local investigative journalists are still doing the essential work of following reports, tracking rumours, and digging up stories. Rather than giving up, they are adapting, rearranging, and pressing forward to be the watchdogs of a new digital generation. Rather than fight the industry’s changing formats and mediums, they work with them, telling stories that change laws, save lives, and unite communities.
Covering a little over 30,000 miles, 18 cities, and 20 tales of the corrupt, dishonest, underhanded, and unethical, Chasing Corruption was created in partnership with Facebook Watch to celebrate this essential work.
Highlighting the stories of 29 journalists in their own words, the show is a unique blend of interviews, archival materials, motion graphics, and cinematic storytelling. Each setting, story, reporter, and nature of corruption is different, but with one common theme: the power of accountability and transparency. Without these local investigative journalists, some of this dirt might have never been uncovered.
Rather than foment distrust of an industry under attack, Chasing Corruption stands as a testament to the critical work local investigative journalists are doing in communities — bringing those in power to bear for ignoble deeds performed under the facade of service to the public good.
Rather than leaving the audience to pick through sometimes years of journalistic work, the show condenses confusing plots into an easily digestible eight-minute show while still showing the full breadth and impact of each story in the community where it is set — from a corrupt sheriff in Kentucky to a swindling politician in Washington, D.C., and from housing abuses in Illinois to a city official stealing millions in California. Host Ian Hoppe and the Chasing Corruption team traveled the country to hear these stories of corruption directly from the journalists who uncovered them.
The project required two reporters to produce, interview, and script; a graphic journalist; a director of photography; a host and director; and a full-time executive producer and production coordinator to create. This required a restructuring of the newsroom to create a show that met the highest standards of journalism and social and visual sophistication.
The success of this new formula is evident in Chasing Corruption’s 160,000+ Facebook followers, dedicated discussion group with more than 400 active members, and multiple awards, including the INMA Best in North America award for regional/local brands and a Southeast Emmy for best director.
With an effective blend of cinematic storytelling, journalistic rigor, and social engagement, Chasing Corruption reached more than online audiences. Beyond the indictments and verdicts, the true influence and significance of this journalism is in bringing the stories of the victims to light.
Where there is power, there will be those who try to abuse it. Journalists create the very system of transparency and accountability that makes this abuse of power impossible. With a second season underway, Chasing Corruption continues to highlight the triumphs of these very necessary local watchdogs.