Digging for Facts: A Reporter’s Investigative Secrets

By-Theo Emery- A Pursuit Magazine Article
Investigators and archaeologists may use different tools, says this veteran reporter. But their methods are similar.

The empty lot didn’t seem to offer many secrets. When a team of archeologists arrived to survey the property in Fredericksburg, Va., the site was nothing more than a wide expanse of rutted dirt and gravel, strewn with hunks of concrete and brick. City tax records showed no evidence of a historically significant building. Nothing worth digging for.

In fact, an astonishing trove of Civil War artifacts lay under the surface, sealed beneath soil, sand and cinders. The lot that seemed so unremarkable provided a vivid snapshot of the aftermath of the ferocious Battle of Fredericksburg, a humiliating Civil War defeat for Union troops in December of 1862.

When I went to Fredericksburg to report on the dig for a newspaper article, I was struck by the parallels between archaeology and investigative work. On one level, of course, the parallels are metaphorical. Archaeologists dig for artifacts, journalists and other investigators dig for facts. But methodical inquiry and forensics are central to both.

Archaeologists do their work with brushes and trowels. I do mine with a pen, a pad and a recorder. Archaeologists scour historical records. I hunt for contemporary documents. Archaeologists jump down into dusty dig sites. I try to find my way into living rooms and kitchens, where I can see how people live.

Of course, I’m a reporter, not a private investigator, but it struck me that some investigative strategies are useful to both professions. Here are some thoughts on a few of them.


About securityteknews
Ralph Thomas is author of over 32 books on various aspects of conducting investigations, founder and director of The National Association Of Investigative Specialists,CEO of Thomas Investigative Publications, Inc, The Spy Exchange And Security Center and SpyTek Wholesale Imports. Thomas is a member of the Executive Security Council of Griffith Colson Intelligence Service, a private intelligence agency. Thomas's latest project is NAIStv on the Griffith Media TV Network. He has also developed A Native American Store in Georgetown Texas called Tribal Impressions. You can review his person home page off of: http://www.pimall.com/thomas

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