Ep003: Roberta Baskin on Exposing the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

By September 29, 2016Podcast

Dr.G’s guest today is the award-winning investigative journalist, Roberta Baskin. The impact of her work has made controversial waves across the media having exposed misconduct among the worlds most trusted and influential corporations – from the Nike sweat shops to the Small Smiles Medicaid scam to the Heineken toxins. Stories ridden with controversy, Roberta backs down to no one, and reveals the hidden truth behind how she cracked these cases. Through her latest initiative AIM2Flourish, Roberta has now re-focused her attention 180 degrees towards educating and inspiring leaders on how to “do well while doing good”. How did she uncover these hot stories? What was the resistance? What’s it like to be a journalist today? Why is there so much bad new today? How do we train our future leaders to be socially responsible? All this and more on today’s episode. Now, That’s Unusual.

About Roberta Baskin

Roberta Baskin, executive director of AIM2Flourish, is an investigative journalist who spent her career exposing corporate misconduct. As a correspondent for esteemed news programs such as 20/20, 48 Hours and NOW with Bill Moyers, Baskin broke noteworthy stories such as the Nike sweatshop scandal and Small Smiles Medicaid scam. Her work has earned 75-plus journalism prizes including multiple Emmys, prestigious George Foster Peabodys, and the Radio-Television News Directors Edward R. Murrow Award. But after 30 years earning the nickname “Bad News Baskin,” she has shifted her focus to that of showcasing of innovative businesses who do good around the world.

Key Interview Takeaways

  • To be an extraordinary investigative journalist, one needs tenacity. Because Baskin didn’t have a journalism degree, she was willing to take risks and work harder than anyone else to get the story. Her naiveté gave her permission to do things that others wouldn’t, i.e.: wait five hours to speak with the manager of a soccer ball factory in Pakistan – a factory that was protected by armed guards. Baskin’s success was rooted in this resolve to tell the stories that weren’t being told.
  • “The story is bigger than the self.” Investigative journalism has the power to transform industries. When Baskin was fired from WMAQ in Chicago over a story about the cancer-causing agents in beer produced in the US, she took it to another network. Once Baskin had uncovered the presence of toxic chemicals, beer companies were finally willing to spend the money necessary to change their process.
  • The media movement to share not just “bad news,” but also stories of resilience and opportunity is powerful and inspiring. Baskin’s AIM2Flourish is a global learning initiative that teaches the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to business school students and then challenges them to find companies with products and practices that align with said goals. For example, the Indonesian company PT Tirta Marta makes plastic bags out of tapioca. The environmentally friendly bags biodegrade within two weeks, and the use of cassava root in production supports local farmers. AIM2Flourish seeks to discover and reward these pioneering businesses.

Learn More About Roberta Baskin