Investigation and storytelling – a conversation with investigative reporter Jeremy Jojola


Investigative reporter Jeremy Jojola shows off the 9News newsroom. Photo by Lars Brady.

“There’s always something happening  in Denver,” says investigative reporter Jeremy Jojola.

Whether it’s wasted tax dollars, questionable business practices, or governmental abuse of power, Jojola makes it his responsibility as an investigative journalist to uncover and disseminate the truth.

Each day, he tasks himself with keeping his community as informed as possible.

Jojola has worked at Denver’s own 9News for five years. He studied Journalism at New Mexico State and previously worked for KOB-TV in New Mexico for nine years.

In Denver, he’s been recognized as “Best Specialty Reporter” by the Colorado Broadcasters Association and received a number of Emmy’s for his investigative pieces.

Jojola says that investigative reporting can be more specialized than traditional broadcast reporting, since investigators pour more resources into individual stories.

The United States Bureau of Labor reports that the yearly median pay for standard correspondents, reporters, and broadcast news analysts is $37,720. For investigative reporters, PayScale reports a higher yearly median pay of $63,000.

Of course, this is influenced by experience in the field, time spent at a station, and geography, since larger cities generally are home to higher-profile projects.

“Alot of what I do is just gathering information,” Jojola says, as he describes a typical day.

He makes phone calls, runs through records at local courts, and examines tips from viewers. It’s a process that he admits can sound boring, but it’s remarkably rewarding.


Investigative reporters uncover hidden truths in their community. Photo by Lars Brady.

Arguably, the most common advice given out to young journalists is that good writing is crucial to success in the field. Anybody can report the news but journalists can tell stories. Jojola agrees with this.

“I work to make important but uninteresting stories, interesting,” he says.

People generally don’t care about their local city council or legislature simply because it sounds dry. For better or worse, the average citizen just isn’t all that fired up about local politics.

However, although they may not realize it, the local city council or legislature still affects the average citizen. Perhaps, even more so than something like the presidential election.

Jojola says that taking his research and dry stories and making them relevant to the people is a big part of what he does. He also says good writing is key.

For instance, the average news-consuming citizen might think a piece of about over-citation sounds bland.

However, one of Jeremy’s favorite and most intriguing stories is one that highlights absurd ticketing in the tiny Colorado town of Mountain View, Colorado. It’s well-written and practical and thus, a very good piece.

Mountain View has population of 507 and is pushed just to the west of the city of Denver. The total area of the town is 64 acres, or 12 blocks.

Thanks to Jojola’s investigative work, it was discovered the town was handing out more tickets than Denver, 885 vs. 787, and in turn, happily taking the citizens’ fee money.

Funnily enough, in Jojola’s piece, people are actually quoted questioning Mountain View’s very existence.

If the citizens had anything from small dents in a windshield to obstructed back windows, they would be slapped with a fine. Jojola says these things people otherwise might miss still affect people. Mountain View is a perfect example.

It seems cliché but if wrongdoing is allowed to pass on the small-scale, it will certainly be allowed to pass on the large scale.

Another skill Jojola thinks is crucial is communicating, managing, and working with people.

He’s reliant on gathering information from individuals who are not always initially open to sharing.

For instance, sometimes his sources would be in legal hot water if they were to be publicly revealed. Other times, organizations will attempt to obscure questionable dealings.

Delicate, sensitive communication is a large part of investigation. Jojola says it’s important to remain genuine and honest.

“People are skeptical and they have every right to be. There’s alot of bad reporting,” he says.

He works to communicate with his sources that he is there to tell the truth to the best of his ability, while presenting multiple sides to the issues.Technology has certainly made fetching records and receiving leaks easier, but reporting will always largely be based in working with real people.

Ultimately, Jojola says it’s all about bringing truth and relevance to the members of his community.

“We look for stories that our viewers are going to connect with and care about,” he details.

Citizens are concerned about the protection of their day-to-day lives. Among other things, they focus on their neighborhoods, their loved ones, and the expenditure of their resources.

“People care about their taxes, public safety, and their government,” Jojola describes.

Through his investigation, Jojola looks to make a positive impact on the people around him.


3 thoughts on “Investigation and storytelling – a conversation with investigative reporter Jeremy Jojola

  1. Lars, this was such an interesting piece! I can tell that your interview questions were very well thought out and chosen as his replies offer a lot of insight into the field. I also liked how you started out the article with a quote from him, that really intrigued me.


  2. Lars, this is a very cool article in the fact that you got to interview such a local legend! I have always thought investigative journalism seems like a very rewarding occupation. Putting so much work into a story and really getting waste deep into a story and being able to expose it to the public eye seems like something you could really look back at and be proud of, not much unlike an actual detective. The only difference may be that he can wright. From the article it seems that he has found modest success already, having only been there for 5 years. I wonder what his career goals are as far as advancement and prospective achievements go?


  3. Lars, thank you for sharing this piece with us! Jeremy Jojola is a huge role model for journalists here in Denver. It’s pretty awesome that you were able to get an interview with him. I especially found interesting where you wrote the annual salary for investigative reporters. It makes a lot of sense that larger cities will have a higher pay for their journalists but I had never actually given it much thought. I wonder what has been the most difficult piece he has investigated. I would’ve also liked to know how he got into the industry! He seems very passionate about it!


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