“I believe there will always be a market for well told, well researched investigative reporting,” says Nanci Wilson, investigative reporter wooed to KXAN TV (NBC) from KEYE TV (CBS) last winter. “These are the stories that hold our government and the powerful accountable. These are the stories that reveal wrongdoing and provoke change. These are the stories that let the bad guys know someone is paying attention.”
It sounds like Ms. Wilson is burning with the same fire she always had after six-months away from the air because of the rather standard, “no compete” clause in her contract. “Yes. I’ve got a long list of potential stories. Curiosity is part of my DNA, so I’m always digging for information on things that I see or hear about. I came away from our annual conference of investigative reporters with lots of ideas, too.” She became free to return to the air Saturday, August 1, 2009.
Wilson says she looks forward to working with Michael Fabac, KXAN TV news director. “We both served on the committee that helped get the journalist shield bill passed. He’s passionate about the public’s right to know and understands the importance of investigative journalism. It’s really fun to work for someone who shares that excitement and commitment.”
“We work hard to provide Austin viewers with depth and clarity on issues that affect their lives,” said Fabac. “Nanci has a proven record of solid, in-depth investigative journalism. She’s committed to bringing the truth to light. We’re excited to have her on our team.”
That sort of focused reporting comes with commitment and cost.
“The state of investigative journalism is in a bit of flux. Many reporters around the country have been laid off or reassigned to anchoring or general assignments positions. It’s no secret that investigative reporting comes with a higher cost to stations and newspapers. With news outlets being owned by corporations, there is more pressure to make a profit, rather than serve the public,” Wilson says. KXAN TV is owned by LIN Television (TVL) based in Providence, Rhode Island. “The good news is that there are still some stations and papers that see the benefit, and I believe in the long run, those will be the ones who will see the payoff in viewers and subscribers.” LIN TV has a long-standing commitment to local, multi-platform news.
Obviously, KXAN has been aware of Wilson’s work. “Austin viewers are very familiar with Nanci and her award-winning journalism,” KXAN says a prepared release. “She has spent the last 13 years reporting in Central Texas, winning several awards, including two Associated Press Awards and the coveted Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative journalism [while she was with KEYE TV].
“More importantly, her reports have helped bring about important changes in local and state government. This includes proposed legislation mandating regular criminal background checks of Child Protective Services workers and an in-depth report exposing the over-medication of foster children and conflicts of interest within the Texas Mental Health & Retardation Department,” the release said.
“There are a number of new nonprofit organizations that are focusing on investigative reporting. Many of my friends have gone to work for them, and they are doing some exciting and important work,” Wilson says. Several high profile journalists recently resigned jobs in traditional media to work for a new start-up, the Texas Tribune (www.texastribune.org), a yet-to-be-launched nonprofit, online source of Texas news and politics. The Texas Tribune Launch is expected in November. “It is my core belief that investigative reporting is an essential element of maintaining democracy. And as such, I'll always support those who are committed to it,” Wilson says.
© Jim McNabb, 2009