Featured Member: Miranda Patrucic

By on December 21, 2011

MirandaCurrent Location: Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina
Current Gig: Investigative reporter for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project
Member Since: June 26, 2011
Six-word memoir: Scary smart with computer, and bossy
Favorite fictional character: Carrie Bradshaw, “Sex and the City”
Favorite tech tool: Investigative Dashboard

What happens during your average day?

That I have no average day is the best part of my job. On any given day I might be helping a colleague track down a company in Cyprus or fact-checking a story with editors at OCCRP or speaking at a conference or killing myself trying to write a narrative from a stack of notes, which is the hardest part for me. Whenever possible I try to have a normal life, too, including coffee with friends, shopping with my mother and clubbing on weekends. Oh, and the gym, too.

Why did you choose to get involved with online media?

There was no choice. If you work on organized crime and corruption stories you are going to need to use public records and documents and there is no better way today to get them, organize them and distribute them than via online media.

What precautions do you take to continually cover the corruption beat without burning out?

Honestly, while I come close to exhaustion at the end of every project and I never feel like I have enough time to do all I want to, I have not come close to feeling burned out in seven years. Working with a dedicated team helps, as do conferences and workshops with international colleagues. Learning new things all the time is a big kick for me. Sometimes I just do have to stay home and bake. Or travel, which is a passion of mine. I just took a trip to Spain.

How do you prepare for an investigation?

I over-prepare. I read everything I can find on the topic in reports and online. I search out every public record, private note or piece of writing I can find. I like to know as much as possible – to see how things work – before I begin interviewing. I prepare interviews ahead of time, writing out questions and a script to follow. I source deeply. I take a really, really long time asking questions, going back, getting new people to talk and figuring it all out. Then I sweat the writing.

Finish the sentence: “I would not be standing here today if it weren’t for…”

…the American editors at the Center for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo who put up with me, gave me lots of responsibility and believed in what I could do even before I ever did it. Bosnia is a place that counts credentials such as academic degrees and job titles and experience as all important. But the Americans just say, you can do it? OK, show me. One more thing: I would not be standing here today if it weren’t for my fluency in English. It has given me access to those editors, to the world of Internet knowledge and to conferences, connections and interactions worldwide.

If you had a million dollars dedicated to improving media, you would…
… invest it in Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.