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Staying on the paper trail of a major business

By Zachary Matson

Businesses may control the world, but they also leave paper and people trails everywhere they go. Resources as basic as a company’s website and resources as complex as analytic tools created by financial firms can be used by journalists to tell important stories about what public and private companies are up to.

Reporters from the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe and Center for Public Integrity shared their secrets for compiling information on companies and piecing together narrative that tells compelling stories. They stressed using SEC filings, court documents, investor resources, patents and trademarks, regulatory filings, campaign finance and lobbying records and much more.

David Heath of the Center for Public Integrity said that he uses all of the information he can get his hands on, builds a timeline of events and begins to piece together a narrative of the “original conflict,” or the most compelling story that brings meaning to otherwise disparate records.

Zachary Matson is a journalism student at the University of Missouri

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