An Intrepid Reporter is an investigative journalist who goes out and finds stories, rather than letting them come to him or her. Sometimes this seems to be the only kind of reporter used in fiction. A character's actual assignment might be something like "tell the readers who won the dog show," or "write a puff piece on our best advertiser," but something about the setup will inevitably spark a full-scale investigation.
This kind of reporter is also known, in fiction, for getting far more involved in their stories than is usually recommended for real journalists. There might be a brief mention of "objectivity" or warning against "getting too emotionally involved," but if there's a Corrupt Corporate Executive to bring down, secret villainy to expose, or a Distressed Damsel to rescue, the Intrepid Reporter will be right in there taking an active hand. Sometimes the term "muckraker" is used for this kind of journalist. Expect occasional examples of Off the Record information, whether or not they violate their journalistic ethics and reveal it.
Most often, the Intrepid Reporter is a protagonist, or at least on the side of the angels. Expect a lot of speeches about "the Truth", "Freedom of the Press" and "the People have a right to know." But they can also be Love Interests, antagonists, or even villains. After all, the lure of that big scoop can lead to rushing into danger (not that they all mind that), trying to expose secrets the protagonists would rather not have public, or even fudging the facts to make a juicier story.
The teenage version of this is the School Newspaper News Hound. An Intrepid Reporter has a good chance of being a Hot Scoop as well. The Jerk Ass or Evil Counterpart is the Paparazzi. If an Intrepid Reporter has no name, and/or is clearly snooping around somewherethey''really''shouldn'tbe, they are most likely a Red Shirt Reporter as well.
See also Da Editor and Going for the Big Scoop.
Subverted twice in Monster. When a journalist tries to help Dr. Tenma stop a murder, he ends up becoming one of the victims. Later on we meet another journalist who seems to fit the bill... until we learn that his press pass is phony and that he's something else entirely.
Aoi Hino from Cannon God Exaxxion. Lampshaded by the fact that the other, more level-headed members of the news team she's on think she's nuts. There's also her little sister, Akane who is determined to follow in her big sister's footsteps, but every attempt she makes to do so ends in disaster. Also subverts this trope by having another recurring news team who are much more realistic & down to Earth... who happen to be space aliens.
Goh 'Rocky' Mutsugi from Area 88: Photojournalist on the battlefields of North Africa. Shot down while out taking pictures, rescued by a Bedouin Rescue Service but forced to fight the chief, wins the fight with a Barehanded Blade Block, then goes out with a bang by ramming a tank with a Jeep when the camp is attacked. Oh, and survived all that, though he did lose a hand.
The first anime had her head straight into Chaotic Good territory (her mercenary manga characterization around the Sayo arc was almost completely reversed, and Asakura looked EXTREMELY sympathetic by comparision in the first anime. The official manga waited a long while later before doing this.)
In Remote, Ayaki's fiance Shingo quits his job to become a reporter. His idea of working is to use his girlfriend's presence at particularly grisly murder scene to get a scoop. She is not best pleased.
Astro City's Samaritan's civilian identity is as a fact checker at the Astro City Rocket.
Also Irene Meriwether, who pursued news stories with almost as much determination as she pursued Atomicus.
Since it is an easy way to get a superhero into an adventure, ever since the Golden Age a lot of superheroes either worked as reporters themselves (like Superman) or had an intrepid reporter as a love interest (like Superman had Lois Lane) or close pal (like Superman had Jimmy Olsen). For example:
Iris West and Linda Park, journalist wives of the second and third Flashes respectively.
Also Vicki Vale, Batman's Lois Lane ripoff love interest in the '50s and the Tim Burton movie. She still makes occasional cameos in The DCU as a TV news anchor, but is no longer associated with Batman.
As of Battle For The Cowl, she's back on the Gotham Gazette and back to trying to deduce Batman's secret identity. And she's succeeded.
Radio reporter Libby Belle Lawrence became the Golden Age Liberty Belle in the winter of 1942/43.
In the Marvel Universe, both the Daily Bugle's publisher, J. Jonah Jameson, and its editor-in-chief Joe Robertson had aspects of this. As did a number of the paper's journalists, including photographer Peter Parker alias Spider-Man. Also Peter's former romantic rival Ned Leeds and his widow, Betty Brant.
Ben Urich, formerly of the Daily Bugle, now of Frontline. His first story involved him deducing Daredevil's secret identity.
Likewise, his partner Sally Floyd. (Being "intrepid" does not necessarily mean you're good at your job.)
During his time on The Pulse, the Bugle's superhero supplement, Ben also worked with Jessica Jones and TerriKidder. Kidder showed the dangers of being an Intrepid Reporter; her obsession with superhero stories got her killed.
In her first solo series as Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers was editor of Jameson's magazine Woman.
The Beast's one-time girlfriend, television reporter Trish Tilby.
In Marvel's New Universe, reporter Andrew Chaser befriended Psi-Force member Tyrone Jessup and eventually wrote a book about the team.
The Golden Age Black Cat (Linda Turner) had an admirer in reporter Rick Horne.
In a slight subversion, Owl Girl, the sidekick of the Golden Age hero The Owl, was gossip columnist Belle Wayne.
The Golden Age Blue Beetle's girlfriend was a reporter; she even appeared in one solo story as Joan Mason, Girl Reporter in 1945.
Uptown Girl is a Minneapolis-based reporter for the City Pages (in Real Life, a weekly paper) who gets involved in many weird cases. In issue #18, her friend Rocketman lampshades her habit of charging ahead to solve the problem of the day without sensibly calling the police to deal with it.
Paperinik New Adventures has three. The first is Stephan Vladuck/Camera 9, an intrepid reporter capable of discovering everything (in the story he has discovered the existence of the Time Police, including that Lyla works for them, and what the Ducklair Tower really is. Luckily he's keeping the secret) before the advent of the show-news forced him to find a job as cameraman for Channel 00. The second is Mike M. Morrighan, a sleazy reporter who still has discovered evidence of the Evronian threat (and only failed to reveal it because the US Army discovered the tape he had mailed to himself to prevent confiscation and swapped it with a bad cartoon). Then we have Angus Fangus: in spite of being (in)famous for his injustified rants against our protagonist, the fact his favourite target is called Paperinik the Devilish Avenger for a good reason (and still continuing after having been at the receiving end of his humiliating revenges at least twice), his ongoing attempts at bringing to justice a Corrupt Corporate Executive (that's why he left New Zealand), his backstory including foiling a traffic of thermonuclear weapons and many other brave (and ridicolous. He had already saw everything when he had been kidnapped by a Mad Scientist who wanted to Take Over the World) feats of his make him one.
The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961) is an apocalypse movie seen through the eyes of newspaper journalists working for the ''Daily Express''. The protagonist is relegated to cub reporter duties because of his ongoing alcoholism, but he nevertheless digs up the story that the government is trying to suppress — that simultaneous nuclear tests have upset the tilt of the Earth. The ludicrous scientific premise is offset by the reality-based view of a newspaper at work, and it is rightly regarded as a classic sci-fi movie in Britain.
Jerry Thompson, the reporter who tries to find out the meaning of "rosebud" in Citizen Kane. And Kane himself during his younger years.
Mariana in Man on Fire. Not only is she a reporter, but she is also romantically involved with a police inspector. Her actions in the film go far beyond those recommended for a reporter who intends to live through the day without being killed by those she exposes.
In Shattered Glass, Stephen Glass views himself as an Intrepid Reporter and would love nothing more than for everyone else to think of him as one as well. He's nothing of the kind. However, Adam Penenberg, the journalist who exposed Glass, very much is.
Except the exchange was between Galloway and then-Major "Chargin' Charlie' Beckwith (of the Green Berets, eventual founder of Delta Force) at the siege of Plei Me a month before the Battle of the Ia Drang depicted in the film.
Joe Galloway: You got room for one more?
"Snakes**t" Crandall: If you're crazy enough, hop in.
Judge Dredd. Reporter Vartis Hammond is trying to find the reason for the rise in street crime. He discovers the existence of the Janus Project and is murdered in order to keep the secret.
In the various Superman films, including the serial, Clark Kent, Lois Lane and sometimes Jimmy Olsen reprise their comic book counterparts' intrepidness.
In Sharktopus, Stacy actively seeks out the Sharktopus so she can cover the story. Her insistence to get up close and personal with the monster eventually gets both her and her cameraman killed.
Cameron "Buck" Williams of the Global Weekly magazine in Left Behind. He's something of a subversion of the trope, as when he discovers evidence of a murderous global conspiracy, Buck makes a Deal with the Devil to quash the story in exchange for his personal safety.
Humorously enough, this doesn't appear to be intentional, especially when you consider that he's a Mary Sue.
Not only that, he also ignores the biggest story ever in the process.
The Harry Potter books have an antagonist version of the Intrepid Reporter in the person of Rita Skeeter of the Daily Prophet. She doesn't let the facts get in the way of a juicy story, going beyond merely ignoring what interviewees actually tell her to actually putting words in their mouths.
William De Worde and his Girl Friday, Sacharissa Cripslock fill this role in several Discworld novels, starting with The Truth. As the only news reporters in one of the most newsworthy cities in the world, they keep very busy.
Susan Rodriguez of The Dresden Files (book version). Unfortunately, her intrepidness led to lasting physical harm for her.
Bill and Chris, in Jane Lindskold's Athanor series, are led by an anonymous tipster to investigate a mysterious philanthropist going by "Arthur Pendragon." Once they realize just how big of a secret they've stumbled onto, though, they decide to change careers.
Gregory McDonald's Irwin Maurice "Fletch" Fletcher is a giant of Intrepid Reporterdom.
Kitty Norville is an Intrepid Radio Talk Show Host who frequently tracks down her own stories, and can get way too physically involved in them.
Michael Liberty from the Starcraft novel "Liberty's Crusade" begins the novel in serious trouble - i.e., corrupt politician and mob bosses potentially assassinating him trouble - over his exposés on Confederate politics, which gets him sent out to the Colonies. His attempts to discover the truth don't stop there, of course, and almost get him killed at Anthem Base before he decides to tag along with the Sonsof Korhal.
In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Raoul Duke was with his attorney Dr.Gonzo (who may have been Samoan) to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race. However upon arriving in Vegas Duke and his attorney Dr.Gonzo (who may have been Samoan) found it to be imperative to get to the bottom of the American dream by any means necessary. (Including fraud, forgery, liberal drug consumption, and bribing maids to act as moles for hotel drug cartels)
Joe Buckley from 1634: The Galileo Affair finds himself to be the only trained journalist in an era dominated by propagandists, and sets out to Venice to find good stories. He's implied to actually be pretty good. Unfortunately, his name is Joe Buckley, and he's in a Baen book. He gets killed by Michel Ducos after getting too close to said villain's real plot.
Digby Driver in The Plague Dogs is an antagonistic (and downright evil) example. He uses underhanded means to get info, falsifies it when it suits him, spreads panic, and gets the army sent after the protagonists.
In Death: Nadine Furst, very much. It almost got her killed in Glory In Death.
In the novel Airframe, we meet field reporter Marty Rearan, but it subverted in that he's just a talking head. The real legwork is done by the show's producer, Jennifer Malone.
Documentarian Hallis Saper in Starfighters of Adumar fits into this role, especially as the story progresses. She does have a background in "sludgenews" (and learned several of her sneakier techniques from that time), but her strong sense of ethics directed her toward a more legitimate journalism career.
Both Maddie and Carla on Jonathan Creek qualify, falling somewhere between the good and bad versions of the trope. Maddie isn't adverse to a little breaking and entering or using the Bavarian Fire Drill to get a story, and Carla is a sensationalist television journalist.
In her case, it turns out that she is actually put up to it by a government black-ops group that was going to hijack the Prometheus and use it as blackmail to get one of their leaders free. However, she was entirely unaware of their ulterior motives (or the fact that her camera crew were smuggling weapons in with their gear.) As far as she was concerned, she really was just an honest Intrepid Reporter, it just turns out that the people who were feeding her the initial information were something different.
Earlier in "Secrets," there was Armin Selig, who had a concrete scoop about the Stargate Program. He got hit by a car after confronting Jack with his suspicions. Never explicitly said, but Jack was left half-believing it was arranged.
Emmet Bregman, the documentary-maker who visits the base in the two-part episode Heroes, tries to be something of this when he repeatedly forces himself in the middle of every ongoing situation, but each time is sent away by the colonel in charge of supervising him. (It's stated that some of this is due to not wanting to take risks after the Julia Donovan incident, but additionally the members of Stargate Command just find his presence annoying and disruptive.) He never ends up in the middle of the action like he wanted, but he ends up witnessing a good deal more of it than he really bargained for.
In Doctor Who, Sarah Jane Smith started out this way but rapidly became more interested in saving the planet.
On her own spinoff show, Sarah Jane has returned to being a journalist, though she is far more interested in defending the Earth from aliens than getting a scoop. Luckily, the two tend to go hand-in-hand. Still, her job is usually just a device to get the plot of the week rolling.
James Fullalove and Hugh Conrad from the fifties Quatermass serials.
A bigger example would be Kristine Walsh, who lost her objectivity so completely that she pretty much became the Minister of Propaganda for the Visitors. She changed her tune, however, about five seconds before she was fatally shot. In the A. C. Crispin novelization, she had a reputation for sensationalism and many people said, "(Paraphrasing)<Walter Cronkite?> wants the story and Kristine Walsh wants the GLORY."
Cal McCaffrey and his fellow reporters in State of Play all fit the type, although they all avoid the stereotype of the lone crusader and rogue - by design, according to Paul Abbott. They might drink, have affairs, and employ less-than-ethical tactics, but they're not stupid about it.
Played semi-straight in Alias in the first season, the character of Will Tippen is a reporter, idealistic and thus easily manipulated into a situation that is far over his head.
In Hannah Montana, Miley constantly lives under threat of these people. This has resulted in a minor recurring character, an annoying paparazzi guy that is apparently desperate enough for a picture that he actually FOLLOWS HER HOME after a concert. In The Movie, another reporter hears Miley talking about her secret (that she is Hannah Montana), and becomes desperate to find out what the secret is. When he finally finds out and snaps a picture, his daughters make him change his mind.
Lou Grant had a whole cadre of intrepid reporters, especially Joe Rossi and Billie Newman.
In the Made-for-TV movie Special Bulletin, a reporter is told to get out of the way in case a terrorist home-made bomb turns out to actually be a nuclear weapon, but stays on the scene because he believes that they have more than an hour before it will detonate, not realizing that when the government assault team captures it, they make a mistake and set it off.
Danny Concannon in The West Wing. Being the White House correspondent, he's supposed to be intrepid or people will accuse him of letting a second Watergate go by, which puts him in a bit of a tricky spot since he's good friends with the President, literally wrote the book on the First Lady and has a crush on the Press Secretary.
We also meet other intrepid reporters on that show, such as C.J.'s friend Will Sawyer who ends up getting killed in the Congo. And there's a subversion where Toby gets a press pass for a Russian journalist so she can cover a summit between their two governments, having assumed that the reason the Russians didn't want to let her in was that she was some kind of idealistic Voice of the Resistance. Turns out she was just a glorified gossip writer who had printed a lot of unchecked, fabricated or gratuitously nasty stories about them in a crappy tabloid. "They should give up your spot and put another naked woman in there!"
Harry Kim on Star Trek: Voyager claimed to have edited the newspaper of Starfleet Academy as a student, breaking the story of the Maquis rebellion and getting the faculty and the student body polarized and taking sides. He reveals this information to Neelix, spurring him to investigate the ongoing espionage and sabotage situation aboard Voyager. Neelix, the ship's cook, is then inspired to use his television program A Briefing With Neelix to do some Real Journalism, and Neelix, and ultimately plays an important role in the unmasking of spy Michael Jonas. Ah, the power of the media.
Jake Sisko becomes this, although his original ambition was to be a novelist, risking his life to cover the front lines of the Dominion War and to report from the occupied station.
Word Of God says that part of Stephen Colbert's persona on The Colbert Report is mistakenly thinking he's an intrepid reporter, and was inspired by TV journalists who act like they're breaking Watergate every time they do a "hard-hitting" exposé on playground violence or what have you. He specifically cited Geraldo Rivera as somebody who seems to believe "that he really is changing the world with every interview he does."
The Shadow Line has Ross McGovern, a journalist that wants to write a story exposing police corruption and one of the show's few genuinely heroic characters.
Parodied in Community, where Britta attempts to be a gritty war-time (read: pillow fight) photographer. She sucks at it.
Jim Kyle, the protagonist of the dystopian BBC series "1990", is one of these and a reporter for one of the last 'free' presses in the U.K. and does what he can through the newspaper (as wrapped up in red tape as that press is), but it also comes in handy in that his press card and status as a reporter gives him a way to talk to people who are in trouble with the Public Control Department so he can help them without arousing suspicion.
Hannibal gives us crime blogger Freddie Lounds (a Gender Flip of the tabloid reporter character from Red Dragon), who is certainly one of the more antagonistic characters on that show. She's a headstrong, intelligent and self-motivated writer, but her tactics often veer into the flat-out illegal: in her first appearance alone, she lies to the police, publishes details on an ongoing murder investigation, and spies on psychiatric sessions. She's also determined to paint Will Graham (admittedly a very unstable criminal profiler) as an insane, psychopathic would-be killer.
Dan Holliday was an intrepid reporter for the Star-Times, before becoming an intrepid freelance writer in the Radio DramaBox 13.
The Adventures of Superman paid only lip-service to Clark Kent's "mild-mannered" description—especially in the early years, when Superman operated mostly as an urban legend, and it was Clark Kent who investigated all the stories. When World War II broke out, Clark even became an agent of the federal government on the side.
Jimmy Olsen (see comics) was originally created for the radio show.
Karla Kolumna from Benjamin Blümchen, a German Language audio drama series for kids.
Agent Scott in Dino Attack RPG showed up after the battle to interview its participants, probably arriving sometime before it was over given he was there to report the moment victory was announced. Parodies humorously later on when Lotta Brix, J. Theano, and Seymour Brickstein from official LEGO Canon also show up, and the four reporters end up getting distracted bickering over who gets the story.
Shadowrun. The reporters ("snoops") described in the Shadowbeat sourcebook. They have to worry about being harrassed, attacked or even killed by Mega Corps and various magical threats (spells, monsters etc.) they're reporting on.
Don't forget Lotta Hart from the Phoenix Wright set, though she's more of a amateur photographer than an Intrepid Reporter. She works for an occult magazine, later changing to celebrity photography after getting too scared.
A freelance vigilante example is the Yatagarasu from Ace Attorney Investigations, a master thief who specializes in stealing evidence of corrupt business dealings and sending them to the media rather than the police.
Keats of Folklore definitely falls under this, considering how he's apparently okay with actually running around in the Netherworld and whaling on supernatural monsters just to get a good story for his magazine. Amusingly enough, Keats - an Agent Scully writing for an occult magazine - stubbornly refuses to believe that the Netherworld and his experiences there are actually real, but plays along and goes on asking questions and digging for clues in an effort to get to the truth (or, failing that, a good story).
Ellet from Valkyria Chronicles takes it upon her to report everything that goes on during the Gallian War, especially if it means going to the front lines with Squad 7's leader, Welkin Gunther.
Marcel from Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia is a journalist out for the next big scoop. In the end, he loses his job. After all, he's supposed to be a sportswriter, his desired subjects are decidedly tabloid fare (although existing), he makes Shanoa take all the photos, and even his surefire hit story about Shanoa's abilities is subject to a press ban. He never had a chance.
In Deus Ex, tabloid journalist Joe Greene hounds JC Denton to get leads on UNATCO's activities. Eventually, you learn the truth: he was working for the Ancient Conspiracy all along, and even his nonsensical writings about alien plagues paving the way for invasion were just clever ways to discredit anyone who knows the truth about the Gray Death.
In the adventure game The Dagger Of Amon Rah, you play as Laura Bow, the Intrepid Reporter who ends up solving a murder mystery, depending on which ending you get.
Kylie Koopa, Ace reporter from Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time. She starts off somewhat annoying by messing with the shroobs and putting herself in danger to get her scoops, having to be rescued by the brothers at one point, but gets a Crowning Moment of Awesome later in the game by rescuing the Bros from the Princess Shroob and her minions in her own ship.
Elena Fisher from Uncharted is more than willing to risk her life for a story. The second game essentially makes her into a full-fledged Action Girl who just happens to be a reporter.
In the first game, she Jumped at the Call. Sort of. She and her producers had already paid Nate for his little diving expedition, and they (and she) really wanted a story to go along with their investment. She gets dragged into the adventure when Nate takes her to the supposedly deserted island and their plane (their only way home, initially) gets shot down. The second game has her in full Intrepid Reporter mode, trying very hard to prove that Big Bad Zoran Lazarevic is still alive so that the United Nations or whoever will actually capture and try him for his numerous crimes.
AyaShameimaru. Actual canon description: "Aya wasn't covering events; Aya was creating the events themselves." Borders on Paparazzi in fanon.
Mass Effect has minor character Emily Wong, whom you can help on a few occasions, as well as another, less friendly reporter whom you can punch in the ribs.
Emily Wong takes field reporting to the next level, when she livetweets the Reaper invasion. And dies a Heroic Sacrifice.
Madison Paige, one of the protagonists of Heavy Rain. She seems to specialize in almost getting killed by creepy serial killers.
Maya Amano of Persona 2 fame and her equally intrepid photographer Yukino Mayuzumi are very much made of this. It helps a lot to have a Persona and a full team of other Persona users on their side, though, when they confront madmen as the two Jokers, corrupt politicians, Thai mob bosses, and, oh, yes, the rampaging hordes of demons scouring Sumaru City and effing Nyarlathotep.
Holly White in Metal Gear 2. Not that you'd know her if you hadn't played the game. She's only mentioned once after her appearance in Metal Gear 2, in the previous story section of Metal Gear Solid's manual.
The Dig costars Maggie Robbins, a journalist who achieved worldwide fame through this style of reporting and uses it to wangle her way aboard the Space Shuttle on its mission to divert an asteroid from crashing into the Earth. She ends up getting whisked along for the ride when it turns out to be an alien spaceship.
The other reason she was there was that she has a gift for learning new languages, and the government wanted her as a possible interpreter if aliens turned out to be involved. They did.
Eagle Eye Mysteries gives us Nancy Marx for the school paper in the first game, and Miranda Eagle and her fellow journalist Tungsten Wiles in the sequel.
Double Switch: Alex is very much this. She ends up getting a story, and then some!
El Goonish Shive has Carol, big sister of Sarah. Her motto is "I grew up in Moperville. Weird stuffhappens here". In the last appearance she has a blitz interview on "superhero sighting" opened with low-altitude drop from a helicopter. Merely to reach her witnesses quickly and have her team's copter free to chase "Cheerleadra" at the same time.
Earlier, Elliot's imaginary alter-ego "Super Elliot" has this as his day job.
The online incarnation of The Dandy reinvents the character "Keyhole Kate" as an intrepid reporter for the school paper. (In the print version, she was just nosy.)
In Quantum Vibe Claud Southend initially seems to be just some nosy reporter from Luna. But then he goes to great lengths, even risking his own life, to uncover a conspiracy against Nicole.
Roger from Genocide Man is an intrepid blogger, with a camera implanted in the sinus below his eye. He's following Jacob Doe, a rogue Super Soldier with a suitcase full of genetically modified ebola, for the sake of a story.
In Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, two people, a photographer and a reporter (taking notes) stay while Dr. Horrible is shooting up the homeless shelter they are in. The reporter is in the front row and does not bat an eye when Dr. Horrible comes over to correct her spelling, only leaning to show him her notebook. He has not put the gun down.
CRACKED columnists frequently end up trying to get stories this way. Insane, blatantly untrue stories.
Solomon Todd (known as Duke to his colleagues) was this before he joined the FBI. It makes him really, really good at following paper trails, and getting stories out of traumatised witnesses. It's probably not where he learnt the skills that make him the team's executioner, though.
Gargoyles had Travis Marshall, in both cartoon and comic continuities.
Danny Phantom played with this for one episode with topnotch reporter Harriet Chin. When she finds ghost to be true, she enthusiastically scoops up the story and sends it to the paper she works on. She's promptly fired. In a later episode, she got a job as a news lady—though by that point ghosts have become public awareness.
Liberty's Kids features two of these as main characters - 14-year-old James and 15-year-old Sarah.
Summer Gleason in Batman: The Animated Series sometimes takes on this role. Lois Lane in the spinoff Superman animated series is the more traditional example.
Quite a few Real Life reporters have fitted this mold for at least some of their careers. Nellie Bly, for example. And Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein would hardly have gotten their stories on Watergate if they hadn't been a bit intrepid.
Nellie Bly's exploits in search of the story include traveling around the world in 72 days in 1889 and infiltrating a lunatic asylum as a patient in 1887.
The late, great Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (AKA Raoul Duke), founder of a branch of journalism called "Gonzo" (no, not THAT Gonzo (or that OTHER GONZO)), who not only went out to find the stories, he fucking MADE them, and included himself, the line between journalism and fiction was delightfully and psychedelically blended. Played particularly straight when he was sent to cover a motorcycle race and a police convention, and ended up with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
His Crowning Moment of Awesome for this trope came earlier—he rode with the Hell's Angels for several months, got stomped by them after it became clear he wasn't a pet publicist who would lead them to a lot of money, and, despite his famous temper, still wrote a fair and compassionate, though not blindly sympathetic, account of his time with them.
Another moment was his (satirical) claim that, judging from appearances, Edmund Muskie was on the South American hallucinogenic Ibogaine during the '72 election campaign. It got picked up and reported as real news, apparently by news organizations who hadn't gotten the word about Hunter yet... This actually caused some problems for Muskie, or at least an uncomfortable question or two from the press.
In Australia, two rival "current-affairs" shows, Today Tonight and A Current Affair practice "foot-in-the-door" investigative "journalism". The war between TT and ACA can get quite nasty.
Though the actual quality of the stories on both shows is up for debate.
"These shows prey on the sensationalism that stupid people lap up, with stories of supermarkets conspiring to jack up their prices, of dodgy car parks where your car will be sold into white slavery and which celebrity diet is really the most effective."
The entire notion of intrepid vs. ethics has become hotly contested within the journalistic field, as noted by this article from an old episode of Frontline
Old Time examples of Intrepid Reporters are arguably more interesting from the dramatic point of view. They could actually write reports that had good story quality. Besides Stanley (mentioned above) there are the great War Correspondants and Foreign Correspondants like Ernie Pyle, Alan Moorehead, Lowell Thomas and Sulzberger. There is also James/Jan Morris who did the dispatches from the Everest climb. These types make great characters for a Jungle Opera. Michael Yon today seems like a throwback to that type. Maybe he was Born in the Wrong Century.
Herb Morrison of WLS, who recorded the iconic reportage of the Hindenburg disaster, is arguably an example of this. He was clearly shocked and frightened, but stood his ground and kept right on recording until he was finally overcome by the smoke and heat and forced to seek shelter.
Herodotus, while called the "father of history" sometimes seems rather like an Intrepid Reporter as well.
Greg Palast, investigative reporter for BBC Newsnight and author. Among other things, he has done a great deal of investigation into the circumstances by which George W. Bush became President of the United States. He's made several documentaries and written several books about this. He's also investigated skulduggery in the Exxon Valdez disaster and the Shoreham Nuclear Power Station project.
Egon Erwin Kisch, whom you may call a Real LifeTrickster Archetype. As he said about himself: "I'm a German. I'm a Czech. I'm a Jew. I'm a Communist. I'm from a good family. I'm a student corps member. One of those always helps me out."
He was actually called "Der rasende Reporter" ("The Furious/Speedy Reporter").
At no point in his long career was (now-retired) war correspondent Joe Galloway ever shy about rushing headlong into danger for the sake of a story. Most famous was his conduct at the Battle of Ia Drang during the Vietnam War, which was dramatized in the film We Were Soldiers (see above). He voluntarily accompanied U.S. Air Cavalry soldiers into a highly active combat zone where they were cut off from ground reinforcements, getting so close to the fighting that at one point it became necessary for him to keep an M-16 on his lap for self-defense, and taking considerable time out from his photography in order to drag wounded men to safety. Some of his photographs of the fighting became the first images many Americans had ever seen of the war in Vietnam. Later in life, his affinity for soldiers led him to become ferociously critical of shortsighted politicians who sacrificed soldiers' lives for what he believed were frivolous and idiotic reasons.
Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh. Among other things, Hersh uncovered the true story of the My Lai massacre, the Reagan Administration's PSYOPS campaign against the Soviet Union that led to the shooting down of Korean Air 007, and a number of hard-hitting articles criticizing the Iraq War.
During the investigation of the murders by Charles Manson, a group of TV reporters did some experiments to find evidence that the police were too incompetent to find. For instance, they changed clothes in a car that was proceeding from one of the murder sites to see if they could end up in the likely place where the murderers ditched them. It turns out they found the the dump site right away and got the police to search the area while they covered the activity for their news show.