After all your hard investigative work, when you think your revelations will have an impact, ask yourself: Do I really have a story to tell? The question arises from how you have developed and wrote the story, which is crucial to an otherwise exceptional and brilliant investigative report.
For a story to really influence readers, you need to think over the heart of your reporting and express the most powerful images. To capture readers’ attention, the Senior American journalist Stephen Franklin suggested to ‘create a highly personal lead, a beginning that sets the scene powerfully. It is important only to provide the most basic details. You will unravel the complete details later on.’ But it is also imperative to honestly write what you have found. Do not try to create images that may not blend with your story, or seek to sensationalise the event or incident. Winning your audiences’ trust is essential and a beginning with a narrative that seems untrue will damage this effort.
Once you have presented all information, you conclude the story by summing up your findings and substantiating them with facts. An ideal investigative story has absolute proof – the ‘smoking gun’ – that the wrongdoers have indeed caused the problems you allege. But very often, investigative stories that sound convincing actually do not make sense because writers have been loose with their words, their evidence or how they link this evidence together. Even worse, some of these poorly constructed implications are also likely to be defamatory.