|Etowah County, Ala.|
Sheets got many tips from sources who read his stories, but much of what he found was publicly available. "There are a lot of stories in documents," Sheets told Nobel. "This was just an example of the power of basic journalism." He offers tips for new investigative reporters, or those who are covering communities new to them:
- You can find a lot of sources about community concerns by reading Facebook posts and contacting potential sources on Facebook Messenger.
- If you're new in town, make yourself visible to the community you cover. Sheets lives in Birmingham, an hour away from Etowah County and its seat, Gadsden. Just driving around and making conversation with locals is helpful.
- Don't be afraid of public officials, and remember that journalists have power, too.