The DMJ department welcomes Pete Madden, an investigative producer for ABC News, as this Spring’s Ottaway Visiting Professor! Madden is teaching a special topics course, DMJ393-01 Investigative Reporting Lab, thanks to the sponsorship of the Ottaway Foundation endowment.
About the Course
The Investigative Reporting Lab will introduce students to the fundamentals of investigative journalism through a lineup of guest speakers drawn from subject matter experts throughout the industry. Students will also work to establish a small investigative team of their own, pitching and developing real stories in partnership with local newsrooms. Students will put their skills to the test in support of a final project to be published by a local news outlet that promises to have an impact on the surrounding community. We did a little investigative work of our own and came up with some advice from Madden that New Paltz students can use.
Madden got his career started with something that is required for all DMJ students… internships! He scored two internships with ABC News early in his career. The first was unpaid while he was an undergraduate and the second was paid while he was in graduate school. He interned for the ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, where he wrote blog posts, conducted interviews, and did light production work. Those internships were vital in making his career what it is today.
Madden went to college at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he worked as a sports reporter and editor for the student newspaper. He was an avid reader of Sports Illustrated growing up, so he knew he wanted to do investigative work around sports. He enjoys journalism because it gives him an excuse to be what he called “professionally nosey.”
I love the thrill of chasing a story and conducting an investigation, but the practice also comes with a heavy responsibility to tell stories fairly and accurately, which cannot be taken lightly.
Working in this position has given Madden opportunities to pursue many different interests.
My favorite part about my job is that the work is different every day. One day I’m in the newsroom. The next I’m out in the field. The next I’m in the classroom.
Before working for ABC News, Madden was a senior producer at Sports Illustrated, where he wrote, edited, and produced breaking news and multimedia features for golf.com, Golf Magazine, si.com, and Sports Illustrated. He traveled around the world to cover tournaments, interview players, and visit courses. When Donald Trump launched his campaign for the presidency, Madden began investigating Trump’s global golf business, his relationships with foreign governments, and his long record of litigation in his business affairs.
Madden has been an investigative producer at ABC News for the past six years. He started as the digital editor for the Investigative Unit and was later promoted to reporter and then producer. Most recently, he led the network’s investigation of NFL Concussion Settlement Program’s use of race-norming, which forced the league to abandon the controversial practice.
Madden’s Typical Workday
Madden’s work is more journalism-based than production-based, though he is experienced in both. He typically leads the editorial side of a given story and works with a television producer to develop a broadcast. He spends most of his time sending emails, making phone calls and strategizing with colleagues about how to tackle different stories. He frequently travels to New York City to talk to sources and Washington, D.C. to seek comment from government officials.
One of Madden’s early mentors gave him a piece of advice he still uses to this day:
Take the path of least resistance. If someone asks you to try something, go for it, even if it wasn’t part of your original plan.
He also said that it’s important to be kind to all the different people you meet along the way.
The connections you make are just as important as the work you do and will help you down the road.
- During his internship with ABC, his main responsibility was making sure the TV set was consistent every day and looked like a working newsroom.
- The main cause for Peter’s transition from editor to producer at ABC was a big NFL story he covered a few years ago investigating concussion settlement that discriminated against Black players.
- Madden went all the way to Turkey for his first international operation.
Madden is thrilled to be back in the classroom. He loves teaching and wants to stress the importance of local investigative journalism. He said that teaching at New Paltz is his way of ensuring that the next generation of investigative journalists pick up the torch.
Teaching reminds me why I love my job and am so passionate about it. The students remind me why I do all of this in the first place.
For more information on Professor Pete Madden, check out his LinkedIn below: