One of the main cornerstones of journalism is investigation through reporting. As part of a journalist’s responsibility to be the eyes and ears of the community, investigative reporting offers an opportunity to keep members of the community accountable at all times. To put it in simple terms, “If a story is compelling it needs to be covered, plain and simple.” These are the words of Los Angeles investigative reporter David Goldstein, a veteran journalist who has covered the area for more than 30 years. Goldstein has covered elections, natural disasters, executions and more beyond that. As he said, “My work has taken me to places many people can’t imagine possible in their daily lives.” Although it is easy to dwell on the accomplishments of the multi award-winning journalist, it was Goldstein’s passion for the investigative reporting that shined through most prominently.
Even as I tried to refocus the conversation on personal accomplishment, Goldstein naturally drew the talking back to the craft that he has worked at for the majority of his professional career. The most incredible part about his zeal for journalism was not the in-depth details he shared but rather the simple, recognizable practices that we often overlook. Goldstein’s investigative philosophies are the product of literally hundreds of stories, each telling a different tale. And, perhaps most notably, these philosophies have become commonplace in investigative journalism, as proven by additional sources exclaiming so. But before we can measure the impact of Goldstein’s thinking, his thoughts themselves must first be uncovered.
“Follow through, find the ending people want, do not let anything get in your way.” These words encompass Goldstein’s intense desire to get to the core of an investigation, regardless of the situations that occur along the way. His words speak to a simple truth: A journalist has a distinct responsibility to fulfil their duty to the public, even if it means enduring hardship along the way. As Goldstein alluded to, the completion of this can lead to some pretty incredible things like policy change and social reform. Take the example of a parking ticket. This nuisance affects hundreds of thousands of Southern California Residents each year. Due to Goldstein’s reporting in a recent 2014 investigation, over $5.5 million has been paid to parking ticket recipients that were unlawfully fined. The investigation uncovered that parking enforcement officers were entirely unaware of “lose parking regulations” that enable citizens to leave their cars on the streets during certain times without worry of a ticket. The situation even made it to the mayor’s office after countless inquiries rolled into the Department of Transportation.
The aftermath of the report has led to “necessary progress” according to a DOT employee. Although reluctant to talk specifics of the situation, the employee suggested that the investigation has indeed lead to improvements that citizens will benefit from. Goldstein’s impressive investigative work earned the trust and respect of thousands of Los Angeles residents. This particular example of investigative reporting exemplifies just how social reform can take place from an in-depth investigation.
Outside of this example Goldstein has lead through example with his work, depicting what good investigative skills should look like. Keegan Kyle, an investigative reporter for the OC Register is one of many journalists impacted by the work of Goldstein. Kyle talked in his interview about how their investigative attitudes align in many ways, stating, “we try to research what’s happening in the community, condense it down to what’s significant and help people stay informed.” This necessary truth is directly comparable to what Goldstein himself said, “Any story that the potential to assist a community should be looked into.” Kyle has taken the lessons Goldstein has implemented over the years and has incorporated them into his own work at the OC Register.
All things told, the remarkable work of David Goldstein has the potential to reach any current or aspiring journalist, myself included. His love and appreciation of the most simple journalistic proves that even an emmy nominated veteran adheres to the same things that students learn in introductory classes. This reiterates the point that a back-to-basics approach is what works best when it comes to doing proper investigative work. The story, the community and the outcome are the most important things to keep in mind when investigating a story. Goldstein has been an incredible example to his peers and will continue to do the work that many consider to be the “best in the business.” And as for the future, well, Goldstein himself said it best, “My deepest hope is that the next story I do is the best one yet. That will always continue pushing me forward.” To finalize that point, as I write this post David Goldstein has won another Golden Mike award for best investigative journalist.