People often ask me why I do occasional investigative stories or series. After all, I can make so much more money doing corporate content writing—and it’s much more fun. I get to tell interesting stories or share information that helps people thrive and it’s my first love.
So, why bother with hard news and investigative journalism?
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve despised bullies. That made me the neighborhood and school defender. If I saw a kid who looked like they got harassed routinely and they were fearful, I went to find the coward or coward terrorizing that child.
Usually, I could talk to them and convince them they didn’t want to deal with my backers and me and they stopped. But, if I had to use defensive force to shut them down, I did. I hated this behavior so much I was willing to fight.
It’s my continued hatred of all bullies that drives me to do investigative reporting work. There are still too many people who carried their bully mentality into adulthood who target those with few tools to defend themselves.
I use my journalistic gift to protect vulnerable people with no voice from evil people who cause intentional harm, usually by committing financial fraud or government malfeasance. Those people take the homes, assets, and livelihoods from others for personal gain or personal vendetta.
They make unjust laws or render bad decisions that have a similar effect and often enrich those who deserve punishment, not reward. I just can’t be silent when I see that happening.
Investigative Journalism Work Is Hard
Don’t get me wrong, though. Investigative journalism is hard work, and I don’t just mean labor-intensive, though it’s that, too. I mean that it’s hard on the psyche and it’s hard to explain to some family and friends who fear for my safety. It’s sometimes hard to show prospective clients in my other work the clear separation between this work and what I do for them. (Donald Trump’s election has made that much easier because so many around the world are part of the anti-nationalist resistance movement in some way.)
It’s hard at times to convince sources for my other work that I’m not looking for horror stories to tell. This work can be exhausting and detrimental because so many people are willing to do what’s ugly.
Negativity is not my nature, though. In fact, I’m very nice—until I’m forced to deal with a bully.
Then, just like I did when I was a kid, I grab the toughest one in the group, and I beat them until they and their cabal leave their target alone. Today, I use journalism to do that verbally and effectively—and I get the willing help of my mighty journalist crew.
Most of My Stories Find Me
I can’t and don’t tell all stories. I only write stories when they’re in my wheelhouse, and it’s clear to me that if they remain untold, they will harm people seriously. Often, those stories come to me—I’m not out looking for them because I’m not a beat reporter.
For example, I’ve been in a major legal battle recently that has revealed an underlying system that allows certain people to commit fraud then scapegoat others to avoid getting caught.
I’ve seen multiple far more vulnerable people than me get hurt. That causes the same reaction in me as an adult as it did when I was a kid. It enrages me and makes me want to slay the bully the way David did Goliath. Then, I and my stalwart journalist posse expel the Philistines who support them.
Another developing story relates to a system that potentially hurts elders that I only learned about helping my father who is 76. What kind of people victimize the elderly and why shouldn’t they be exposed when they do?
A third story has to do with a situation I’ve been confronting for years. It’s based on a personal vendetta a few people have launched against me for saying “no” to being their victim and “yes” to exposing their victimizing others.
They have invested substantial resources of time, money, technology, and strategies used primarily against military enemies trying to take down my life. But, I never allowed the neighborhood bullies to do that to my family or me. I won’t allow these bullies to do that to me.
Fighting Bullies Makes Me Fearless
People ask me why I’m not afraid when I’m doing this work. Simply put, these are “other people” just like me. Without access to the resources necessary to conduct their nefarious, often damaging activities—whatever they are—they’re no more powerful than me.
They often form gangs of bullies in various roles from gullible neighbors who believe untruths about a target to government agency or court employees, law enforcement agents, judges, lawyers, corporate executives, and politicians—to support them.
But, they and they prefer to do their dirt in the dark so they must be exposed to be stopped. Yes, it means I have to take extra care and constantly watch my back. But, as my favorite aunt said to me today, “It’s your calling, Dahna. I couldn’t do it, but you’re supposed to, and you have all the skills you need to do it.”
It’s Not My Full-Time Work
I only recently returned to this work when Trump got elected. I knew there would be stories to tell and I have the ability to tell them. It’s not that I’m uncommitted to the work and won’t do an excellent job when I’m on a story. But I learned quickly after launching this site earlier this year that the obstacles I faced in the past that caused me to leave this work—primarily racism and sexism in the media, as well as a lack of good, steady revenue— would keep me from making this full-time work.
So, unless you or someone else is a bully who is committing fraud that harms me or vulnerable people in groups whose members look like those closest to me, I have little interest in pursuing a story. I’m not out looking for you, but if you come for people groups I care about or me, I feel forced to respond and expose you.
I’m sure bullies in the media who work to suppress particular journalist’s voices are thrilled that they won’t compete with my voice as often as they did earlier in my career.
But, neither bullying bad actor story subjects or media bullies should sigh in relief yet. I have thousands of colleagues who those media bullies want to suppress who won’t be silenced or marginalized when pursuing and telling stories that are important to them.
They also are looking for you shady tormentors terrorizing the innocent or vulnerable because that’s what we advocacy journalists do. We expose you. Not even Donald Trump or the Surveillance-Industrial Complex will stop us.
(c) 2017. Dahna M. Chandler for New Fourth Estate Media, LLC. All rights reserved.