The importance of investigative business reporting
Michele Matassa Flores, executive editor of The Seattle Times, writes about aerospace reporter Dominic Gates and his reporting, which won a Pulitzer Prize earlier this month for covering the Boeing 737 MAX problems.
Flores writes, “Gates spent weeks after the first 737 MAX crash interviewing engineers from Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) who, speaking on background for fear of losing their jobs, described serious omissions in the certification of the jet’s flight control systems. He obtained hard evidence — internal proprietary documents — that confirmed what he’d heard: The plane’s automated flight controls had serious design flaws and Boeing had given the FAA incomplete information during the certification process. The federal regulator had ceded much of its oversight to the company, laying the groundwork for catastrophe.
“When The Seattle Times published ‘Flawed analysis, failed oversight’ on March 17, national media followed. By then we had already launched our yearlong, continuous investigation. A team of four reporters — with editors, graphic artists, photographers and others from around the newsroom — produced 150 articles ranging from breaking news to deeply reported investigations. Our reporting exposed how Boeing’s shifting culture and focus on short-term profits, enabled in part by lax regulators, led to the tragic accidents. The plane has now been grounded by the FAA for more than a year.
“This type of reporting doesn’t materialize out of thin air.”
Read more here.