A one-man investigative business journalism center
Laura Hazard Owen of the Nieman Lab writes about business journalist Roddy Boyd and his Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation, which produces investigative stories about companies.
Owen writes, “Boyd always wanted to be a reporter, but he got married young and, by his early 20s, had a wife and two little kids to support. So, for seven years after college, he worked at his father’s hedge fund in Greenwich, Connecticut, as an analyst and trader. ‘I had the view that, once I got to a certain level, I would be able to do what I want, and what I wanted to do was be a reporter,’ he told me. He recalled reading, in the 1990s, ‘fascinating, Page-1-above-the-fold investigations on corporate fraud and offshore thuggery. I remember thinking: That is really great stuff. Man, if someone could get in on the inside and show just how much nonsense goes on at a corporate level, how much sleight of hand or just outright lying — wouldn’t that be something?’ He went on to work for the New York Post, the now-defunct New York Sun, and Fortune — and, after getting laid off from Fortune, a hedge fund again. After his second child graduated from high school, he and his wife moved with their two younger kids to Wilmington, North Carolina, where he began working on a book about the collapse of AIG.
“One day in late 2010, he needed a break from writing the book. ‘There’s a point writing a book where you’re just like: I need two hours to look at cat videos and cuts of my favorite songs from high school.’ He started googling the investigative reporters he’d once worked with, the ones ‘doing a lot of fraud calling, and making some enemies, and it was all good.’ He found few of them doing the type of work he still loved.
“‘I was like, I can’t believe a year and a half after the financial crisis, no one is doing this stuff. I’m not talking about writing these massive, 10,000-word thumbsuckers about some crappy company that did something to a politically vulnerable population. I’m talking about companies that wake up every day and, using the imprimatur of the law, do things that are unconscionable and appalling. I said: I’m gonna take a public filing, I’m gonna use that as a springboard, I’m gonna write about companies that I think are crap, but I’ll write fairly, I’ll dive into them, I’ll give them a long chance to comment.’ He did this first on a blog called The Financial Investigator, then, in 2012, launched the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation, a nonprofit where he would do this reporting full-time.”
Read more here.