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Intrepid Reporter

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Thatcher: Is that really your idea of how to run a newspaper?
Kane: I don't know how to run a newspaper, Mr. Thatcher, I just try everything I can think of.

An Intrepid Reporter is an investigative journalist who goes out and finds stories, rather than letting them come to them. 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 Damsel in Distress 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.

Due to Hollywood Beauty Standards/Hired for Their Looks, this character also tends to be attractive In-Universe, and an object of desire for both the good and bad guys. Morally gray, and villainous adult examples may not be above offering Sex for Services. For the upstanding ones, part of their drive may be to prove that they're not just a Brainless Beauty that looks good on TV.

Expect a lot of speeches about "the Truth", "Freedom of the Press" and "the People have a right to know." Despite this, they're typically troublemakers. After all, the lure of that big scoop can lead to rushing into danger, 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. The Jerkass or Evil Counterpart is the Paparazzi, the Immoral Journalist (which is not necessarily the case for this reporter), or the Propaganda Machine churning out Public Relations Ads if it's a large organisation. If an intrepid reporter has no name, and/or is clearly snooping around somewhere they really shouldn't be, they are most likely Deadline News as well.

A popular character in action movies and cop shows, as it's a good way to introduce a civilian who has a plausible reason for repeatedly being In Harm's Way. It's also a great superhero secret identity to collect facts about crimes to thwart or fudge the facts when someone wants to expose the masquerade.

See also Da Editor and Going for the Big Scoop. Often wears a Press Hat.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • In In Strange Woods, investigative journalist Brett Ryback uses his podcast and interviews to let the residents tell their stories in their own words, keeping himself on the outside of the story.
  • Limetown consists of the reports of APR reporter Lia Haddock as she goes way beyond what she has to (or perhaps even should) do to find the truth about the titular town.
  • Mystery Show's Starlee Kine is sort of an example, in that she'll stop at nothing to solve the Mystery of the Week and share the story. In one episode, she gets an assist from a straighter example, an investigative reporter who has a Friend on the Force.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Dr. Mike Lano, pro wrestling photojournalist, who will go so far as to take up a managerial position if it can get him close enough to a subject that interests him.
  • Stephy in the World Wrestling League. He was nearly choked out by Thunder of La Artilleria Pesada after he was startled by Stephy seemingly stalking him. Later his effort to get the story on La Rabia led to him being inducted into the group.
  • Lenny Leonard is the most consistent example across the WWN Family(main members FIP, EVOLVE, Shine, as well as predecessors Ring of Honor and SHIMMER), once lamenting that the locker room was a lot less interesting when it wasn't as full of wrestlers hostile to him. Others include Steve Corino (as a wrestler, he can be expected to take care of himself but it still takes stones to confront 3/4ths of Bullet Club alone), and Amber Gertner, but the best examples may be Rob Naylor and Kid Cadet, for whom running from aggravated wrestlers was a Running Gag. But no matter how many times they were chased off they never gave up.

  • 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. (This portrayal of Clark as a confident, assertive journalist carried over into the George Reeves television series.) 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.
  • Bellingham Terror David Phillips starts out as one of these in 1935 Bellingham but quickly devolves to Shell-Shocked Veteran due to Bellingham being Lovecraft Country.
  • Karla Kolumna from Benjamin Blümchen, a German Language audio drama series for kids.
  • Dan Holliday was an intrepid reporter for the Star-Times, before becoming an intrepid freelance writer in the Radio Drama Box 13.
  • Frontier Gentleman featured J.B. Kendall, correspondent for the London Times, roaming The Wild West.

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Rhys is a high school variant, being an aspiring writer who works for the school's newspaper. He first gets involved with the plot when he sights the other students acting suspiciously and follows along behind them, determined to get to the bottom of events relating to his newfound superpowers.
    • Minor character Esther Byun is an investigative journalist who first appears in the story while looking into the disappearances of some of the superpowered kids. Her prying into affairs isn't well-received by Hyeon, who calls her a parasite and ignores her plea for information.
  • 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.
  • Several of the players in Scary News out of Tokyo-3 are reporters of this sort. They're often stuck in the area when an imminent attack is announced — or they just don't leave, as they see no point in running. Much of what is known by the players about the characters from the founding work derives from interviews conducted by them.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Literally the name of a Human class in Bleak World what they lack in combat skills, they more than make up for in cunning and resourcefulness. Their job in an adventuring party will likely be the face or The Team Benefactor seeing as how they have boosts to their Persona and Funding skills.
  • In Rocket Age the Rocket News service is entirely made up of brave men and women willing to travel the stars for the biggest scoop.
  • Shadowrun. The reporters ("snoops") described in the Shadowbeat sourcebook. They have to worry about being harassed, attacked or even killed by Mega Corps and various magical threats (spells, monsters, etc.) they're reporting on.
  • Toon supplement Tooniversal Tour Guide
    • "Atomic Monster Theater" setting. Scoop Mellin is an overweight, balding rat in a cheap suit who always gets his story. He's often present when space aliens or Kaiju attack.
    • "Toonpunk 2020 1/2" setting. Gibson Williams is an investigative reporter for the Daily Midnight News Network who will do whatever it takes to get a scoop.



    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Spark Brushel in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney.
    • Lotta Hart from the Phoenix Wright set, though she's more of an 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.
    • Investigations 2 gives us Nicole Swift, who manages to get herself wrapped up in a staged assassination attempt on the president of Zheng Fa, set up by said president and his bodyguard Knightley to raise his popularity ratings. Nicole is promised an interview with the president in exchange for pretending to be a sniper, never knowing she was actually meant to take the fall for the murder of uninvolved bodyguard Ethan Rooke, which was orchestrated by Knightley himself because he was jealous of Rooke's superior status. Unsurprisingly given the way she acts and talks, Nicole was mentored by Lotta Hart, and the two meet up towards the end of the game to investigate another "scoop" together.
    • Raiten Menimemo from The Great Ace Attorney.
  • Averted in Double Homework. The reporters mentioned in the story usually keep themselves to whichever tidbits about the protagonist and/or the Barbarossa incident leak out online.
  • Tamie Nogi in Princess Evangile, who is determined to cover Masaya's stay in Vincennes despite him being pursued by Yakuza thugs. It comes to a head when she comes face-to-face with the thugs in question, one of whom is wielding a loaded handgun and threatening to shoot Masaya in public.
  • Shale Hill Secrets: The protagonist's roommate, Leah, is studying journalism at Shale Hill University while also conducting illicit and dangerous investigations on the side.
  • Spirit Hunter series:
    • Christie from Spirit Hunter: Death Mark, a former news anchor whose journalistic knowledge provides useful clues for the protagonist.
    • Ban from Spirit Hunter: NG is a journalist that hounds Seiji for his ties to the Yakuza, and his effectiveness is shown when he's easily able to put together a profile on Akira, Seiji's friend. Despite the antagonism, he assists the protagonists by sharing what he knows of the supernatural incidents, and later becomes one of Akira's companions.

  • Rallidae, a vlogger/future news reporter from Cat Nine seems to like getting in on the action together with her brother.
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Carol, big sister of Sarah. Her motto is "I grew up in Moperville. Weird stuff happens 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.
  • H. Javin Aubergine, of Harbourmaster, is a professional muckraker, the government of Tethys' PR officer, and a good-natured pebble in everyone's shoe. He works as the 'loyal opposition' more often than not, because even an enlightened despotism needs an opposing voice. On the one occasion where he's installed as governor regent of the planet, he stages a protest against himself on general principles. But all that's perfectly normal for a reporter, until Tal's grandfather notes that Javin has been banned in, on and from several planets in the three Terran centuries he's been around.
    Javin: I suppose I haven't done up a good 'the despot is a no-fun jerk' editorial in a while.
  • In The Letters Of The Devil, Vida Olivier is a tabloid reporter following up on an anonymous letter implicating a political couple in the shady deaths of their late spouses.
  • Golden, from M9 Girls! fancies herself one, snooping into the M9 Girls' lab in order to find their secret. She ends up being captured by the Big Bad goonies.
  • 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.

    Web Original 
  • CRACKED columnists frequently end up trying to get stories this way. Insane, blatantly untrue stories.
  • Decades of Darkness has a whole family of them: Ulysses, Jesse, and Diane Grant.
  • Shin in Sailor Nothing, who idolizes Hunter S. Thompson. She is obsessed with bringing out the Truth, and her name even means "truth" in Japanese.
  • Shadow Unit: 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.
  • Celeste McLachlan of the Slenderblog Make It Count. Bad journalistic choices are a little bit justified in that she's still very young.

    Web Videos 
  • In Code MENT, Camera 3 owns this trope.
    Detard: Hey, where the hell is Camera 3?
    Assistant: He said he was gonna get some "action shots".
    '[cut to collapsing building]
    Camera 3 Man:
    [falling to his death] THIS-IS-GONNA-BE-THE-BEST-SHOT-EVER!!''
    Gavin: I suppose I haven't done up a good 'the despot is a no-fun jerk' editorial in a while.
  • In Dr. 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.
  • Very much inverted in the Hat Films series Hat Pack, in which Colin (a made-up character played by Trott) doesn't so much as leave the bath when he's meant to be working.
  • Patricia Neilson in KateModern. Unfortunately, the other characters see her as a nuisance and seldom help her investigation.
  • Pirates SMP: At the start of the series, Eloise has the ambition to become a world-renowned journalist, and is willing to throw her previous life away and navigate her way into the ruthless world of piracy to get to the news herself. In doing so, she starts off claiming to have been a pirate all her life with a Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story, but ends up Becoming the Mask the longer she spends there, making friends and hunting treasure along the way. In her epilogue, after retiring from piracy, her risk ultimately pays off and wins her the headline titles she's always dreamed of.

    Real Life 
  • 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. 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.
  • William Burke "Skeets" Miller of the Louisville, KY "The Courier-Journal" received a Pulitzer Prize for his first-hand reporting on the rescue efforts for Floyd Collins. And by "first-hand", we mean that Miller actively participated in the rescue attempts, and turned down an offer of $50,000 (roughly a million dollars in 2023 currency) to relate his story on the Chataqua Lecture circuit.
  • The late, great Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (AKA Raoul Duke), founder of a branch of journalism called "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. 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
  • 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. Minutes later, he was outside again, interviewing survivors. This is what broadcasters do. A gigantic gasbag explodes into hellish flame over a thousand feet into the sky directly above our heads — and we stand there and tell you about it.
  • ITV football commentator John Helm turned up to a routine TV engagement on the 11th May 1985, to report on a Third Division match between Bradford City and Lincoln City, a football game a long way away from the glamour of Manchester United or Chelsea. He was, in fact, practically the only journalist in the ground, so low was the sporting or news significance of the fixture. He and his camera team then recorded the horror of the stadium fire that erupted unexpectedly and was responsible for the deaths of fifty-six people and were the only news presence there for a long time.
  • Herodotus, while called the "father of history" sometimes seems rather like an intrepid reporter as well.
  • The Miami Herald's Julie Brown was instrumental in the July 2019 arrest of serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. In 2008, Epstein was given a sweetheart, illegal note  Federal non-prosecution deal. He was given a 13-month sentence in state prison in which he only spent evenings and Sundays in prison. Alexander Acosta, who would later become Trump's Labor Secretary, was the US Attorney in Miami at the time and didn't give the grand jury a 53-page assessment the FBI had made on Epstein. The deal caught Brown's attention again after Acosta became Labor Secretary in early 2017. After the Weinstein story broke that Fall, she was able to get more of Epstein's victims to talk to her. She has identified roughly 80 women altogether and found out that the FBI knew 36 of them were underage in the report Acosta had buried. She spent almost all of 2018 identifying more victims and publishing more stories about how the deal just didn't add up. In early July, Epstein was arrested in New Jersey on federal sex trafficking charges after his plane from France landed. The head of the New York City's FBI office and the US Attorney for Manhattan both said that they had been helped by excellent investigative journalism without mentioning Brown by name. Epstein hanged himself in his prison cell a few weeks later so no criminal proceedings against him will continue but there are a few civil cases going on against his estate.
  • Veronica Guerin trained as an accountant before becoming one of Dublin's most important organized crime reporters, using her knowledge of accounting to trace drug lords' monetary assets. She received multiple death threats before her work got her assassinated in 1996, but her death led to a clampdown and the formation of the Criminal Assets Bureau. She was played in a biopic by Cate Blanchett.
  • 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 Life trickster. 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.
  • Rolling Stone's Evan Wright, famous for his chronicles of being embedded with the USMC's 1st Recon Battalion during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which would eventually burgeon into the book and miniseries Generation Kill.
    • In an interview years later, Corporal Josh Ray Person recalled how Wright stuck around well into the invasion, giving him more cred with the Marines around him; many embedded journalists, at least according to Person, will leave after one firefight.
  • 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 dump site right away and got the police to search the area while they covered the activity for their news show.
  • William Howard Russell, 19th Century war correspondent for the Times of London, might be the Trope Codifier. His coverage of the Crimean War exposed deficiencies in the British army's leadership and logistics systems, causing massive reforms after the war. He also covered the Indian Mutiny, American Civil War, and numerous other conflicts.
  • John Pilger. Amongst his many achievements, he is probably most renowned for his report from Pol Pot's Kampuchea (Cambodia) in October 1979. "Year Zero" [1] one of the most powerful, disturbing — and bravest — pieces of reporting ever, and its contents horrified the world: this was the first hint the public had of what later became known as The Killing Fields.
  • CNN reporter and news anchor Anderson Cooper has a rather nerve-wracking habit of running off to war and/or disaster areas in order to report from the middle of the action. He won a Peabody for his coverage of Hurricane Katrina (in which he was nearly decapitated by a flying street sign), got punched repeatedly on the streets of Cairo during the Arab Spring, and has reported live and on location from nearly every major war zone of the last thirty years. In 2011 he became part of the news when he rescued a young boy from a riot.
  • We have two intrepid documentary filmmakers to thank for 9/11, whom upon seeing a major disaster was affecting New York City, kept following the firefighters they were filming, giving us the priceless only footage from inside the World Trade Center on 9/11. Many intrepid reporters covered the burning towers. It's actually quite a miracle that only one intrepid reporter actually died covering it - Bill Biggart. The other reporter to die as a result of 9/11 was Thomas Pecorelli, a freelance Photojournalist who, unfortunately, was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11, which kicked the whole event off, so he likely didn't even know just how big a story he was caught up in.
  • More of an Intrepid Meteorologist, as he's just reporting on the weather and not uncovering conspiracies or anything, but given that he tends to report on the worst weather in the world from inside it, there are good reasons that one should always endeavour to be where Jim Cantore is not.
  • James Foley, who was beheaded by ISIS while covering the Syria Civil War in 2014.
  • Santiago Pavlovic is a famous Chilean and very intrepid reporter. Although he lost an eye when he was a child, he became one of the most famous reporters and a mainstay in the Chilean TV channel TVN. In 1984, Pavlovic created Informe Especialnote , an investigation program where he and his team reported and still report diverse controversial themes, which include coverage of wars (Gulf War, Balkan Wars, Iraq & Afghanistan Wars, the Ukraine Conflict), give info about lethal diseases (AIDS, Malaria), unveiling public scandals and even revealing the horrors of Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship between 1973 and 1990. Because of his Eyepatch of Power, his experience covering wars and in general his badassery, there's a Memetic Mutation where Pavlovic is compared with Big Boss from Metal Gear. And for an extension, also various of his ex-companions in the time they were in Informe Especial: Rafael Cavada, Alipio Vera and Amaro Gomez-Pablos (the latter eventually became TV anchorman of the channel between 2004 and 2015).
  • Richard Engel, NBC News' Chief Foreign Correspondent and perhaps the greatest example of this in the 21st century.
    Rachel Maddow: [opening a minutes-long spiel on just how awesome Engel is] Richard Engel is NBC's Chief Foreign Correspondent, and forgive me for saying so, but he is better at being a foreign correspondent than anybody else in this business in this country. He is the best of his generation. You can drop Richard Engel anywhere in the world, and he will intrepidly hunt down the most important, most newsworthy thing that is happening there. And when the most important news in the world is happening in the kind of place you are not supposed to drop a foreign correspondent, he is the kind of guy who has been known to get himself there anyway in order to get the story.
  • Melchior Wańkowicz was a war correspondent during World War II, known both for his Door Stopper account of the Battle of Monte Cassino and for ducking under the enemy fire in order to write it.
  • Ernest Hemingway squarely fit this category during the Spanish Civil War, being among the last journalists to leave the country after covering the Battle of the Ebro, the last stand of the Republican forces.
  • Peter Kemp was a Gentleman Adventurer who wrote a trilogy about his experiences in the Spanish Civil War and WWII before spending the rest of his life covering revolutions across the world.
  • Mstyslav Chernov stayed twenty days in the besieged city of Mariupol during the early phase of the large scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in February-March 2022 as the city was being cut off, surrounded and progressively destroyed by Russian forces, witnessing first-hand the indiscriminate shelling of civilians and their everyday suffering, at very high risk for his life on several occasions. The result became the documentary 20 Days in Mariupol.

What a scoop!


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Liberal Muckraking Bastard, The Muckraker, Intrepid Journalist


What's New, New York?

We see the place where news journalist Paige works at and seeing her get her first assignment.

How well does it match the trope?

4.67 (3 votes)

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Main / IntrepidReporter

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