Finally, I realize I was reaching for some heavy artillery when I opened with Tarbell (and to see her invoked on all sides is one of the biggest kicks I got out the response) but I did it to make the point that in the end, for me, the public-service stories are the point.

Put another way, I, too, find inspiring the anecdote of the student who was able to network her way to great sources. But the anecdote is all about the reporter’s experience, the process, when what matters is the product.

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Dean Starkman Dean Starkman runs The Audit, CJR's business section, and is the author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism (Columbia University Press, January 2014). Follow Dean on Twitter: @deanstarkman.