Investigative Reporting: What Entrepeneurs and Novelists Can Learn from Journalists


Running your own company can be hectic. Especially in the quickly-changing world of technology and   the Web, entrepreneurs lead fast-paced lives. Problems can arise from nowhere that need solutions immediately. Decisions must be made. Customers need to be taken care of. Resources need to allocated–and re-distributed. Life can be an unorganized mess, or a well-run efficient machine.

Unless you are participating in a contest like NaNoWriMo, Writing fiction is usually not so fast-paced. For anyone who has ever written or tried to write a novel, they know that patience is one of the key traits needed to persist. Novels need to build up, and will not be complete until the author has typed out every single word and finished the story. Even then, authors usually do not reap any benefits from their labor until much later on, after their book has been published and started to sell.

But entrepreneurs are not the only ones who live fast-paced lives. And patience is beneficial in other areas of work other than writing. In reality, entrepreneurs and novelists both need the ability to adapt and respond to problems quickly as well as patience.

I am not a professional novelist, but I do write. I cannot speak for all entrepreneurs, even fellow college students who run their own web business, but I have had similar experience running Literary Magic. There is little doubt in my mind of the important role these traits play for both entrepreneurs and novelists as well as those who aspire to be.

Why do I bring this up now?

This summer I’m interning for an organization called the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. It’s a big switch from my days at McGraw-Hill, but has so far complimented if not enhanced the skills I learned at my four years interning in corporate America.

From what I have seen working as a Research Assistant for investigative journalists is that this profession, too, requires a mastery of both adaptability and patience. Whether it is breaking a major article, fact-checking a source or preparing for an event, investigative journalism bears similar traits to entrepreneurship and novel writing. Like entrepreneurs, the workplace is fast-paced. Issues pop up at every corner, and you need to work hard to not only solve these would-be obstacles but continue to progress forward (was that an oxymoron?). And like novelists, creating and preparing a piece of work in investigative journalism takes time. Takes patience. And if you do eventually see the fruits of your labor in investigative journalism, the results can be long in coming.

I think interning at a center dedicated to investigative journalism, like the Schuster Institute is, is helping me improve in these areas. That, and my work for The Justice, has helped me improve my writing and business ventures, not distracted me from it. My advice? If you get the opportunity to try your hand at writing news, go for it. That patience and adaptability will serve you well in the future, as it is already serving me.

Until next time!

Yours literally,