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Stories waiting to be told

Published October 22. 2011 09:01AM

I wish I had more time to do investigative reporting. I've been a reporter more than 40 years and I've done investigative reporting for the Philadelphia Inquirer in the past.

There are a few topics I'd like to spend time investigating. Here are some examples:

• The number of sheriff sales and foreclosures is increasing. In some cases, it's because banks were careless in lending practices and approved mortgages out of line with incomes.

In too many cases, though, the foreclosures are because of other reasons. These include loss of employment, health woes and divorces, all things over which the homeowner had no control.

I'd like to take time and speak to some of the people who experienced the heartbreak of foreclosures and share these stories with the public. Hopefully, some politicians and fat cats in the financial industry would read them and see the ruin they've created.

• Every October is breast cancer awareness month. Free mammograms are offered. What happens when one of those free mammograms comes back positive?

Chances are, the individual will be declined future insurance coverage.

If the individual can't afford to pay for a mammogram, how can that person pay for the resultant treatment? This is especially true of the working poor those who have an income that's just a bit too high to qualify for the welfare programs

This isn't to imply that such testing shouldn't occur. But will testing save your life if you can't afford the treatments and subsequent medications?

I'd love to hear from people who've been down this route.

• How do people earning barely above minimum wage survive? How do these people pay rent, pay for heat, feed their families, pay car expenses, and afford utilities?

If they own their house, how can they afford the taxes?

For young couples, how do they make ends meet when they have to pay for diapers, baby formula, etc.?

Such individuals often have inadequate health insurance to handle an emergency.

Throw in the repayment of student loans for an education they got for a job they can't get and the equation becomes more complex.

I'd love to see some of these family budgets and find out how people are getting by, as well as hear about the obstacles they face.

•A great investigative piece someday might be the local economic climate from a business standpoint. For example, Kovatch Corporation so far has avoided any layoffs. Do they anticipate this to continue?

Blue Ridge Pressure Castings in Lehighton is run by a family dedicated to keeping employment opportunities in existence. It used to be that they were dependent on the auto industry. How are they managing to stay in business?

There are other businesses and industries we ought to contact to get an indication of their future growth and even existence.

• Where have 2011 college graduates and high school graduates who haven't gone onto colleges landed jobs? Are they making enough money to be self-sufficient? Those who aren't working, have they given up?

How do they feel about the direction of the current economy?

There are loads of potential stories we could explore in the future.

How about:

• Single mothers and how do they provide? How do they juggle a work schedule and raising children?

• It would be interesting doing an investigative piece on crime victims and do they actually receive restitution when the court orders it. I've heard the phrase "you can't get blood out of a stone." Therefore, if someone steals some of your goods, and spends his or her money on drugs, and isn't working, what happens when they don't pay restitution to their victims?

All these stories would have one common denominator they affect the average individual.

I'm always looking for good story ideas. If you have any, let me know. Also, if you know of anybody who would be willing to talk to me on any of the above topics, drop me an email or give me a call.

Doing such reporting has always been a key ingredient in responsible journalism.

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