Investigating Large Companies, and the Empathy Involved

By: William Solomons

Jaime Satterfield, an investigative reporter from the Knoxville News Sentinel, shared her experiences working on exposing horrid working conditions for employees under the Tennessee Valley Authority and Jacobs Engineering.

She gave us advice on how to approach stories that may seem intimidating and that have a unique human element to them. For her, the people afflicted by coal ash, the primary source of ailment for the workers, were more than just statistics and legal reports. They were husbands, fathers, brothers and friends. She said that when reporters seek to write stories that could impact lives, it’s important to have empathy toward sources. By meeting with the wives of the workers, she was able to truly capture how much pain and suffering the families were going through.

She said her main purpose of being an investigative reporter was to inspire people and that she wanted to “advocate for truth and justice.” If anything, her discussion on empathy in investigative reporting and the challenges therein has inspired me personally to pursue the field even more and to work to shine light on issues that are facing us.

It’s important to continue to stand up for those who do not have a voice and to be helpful to someone, according to Satterfield. My hope is to take her words with me and to tell others of her work so that in the end we can tell as many people’s stories as possible and invoke change on corrupt business and governments.