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Jeffrey Meitrodt has been a journalist for more than 35 years, first at small newspapers in Massachusetts and upstate New York. He worked in New Orleans for nearly 20 years before joining the Star Tribune in 2009. Since then he has led or overseen more than two dozen investigations, including the 2021 series that showed how financial companies are exploiting vulnerable accident victims by persuading them to sell future legal payments for a fraction of their true value. He grew up in a farm town in southeastern Minnesota and was the first in his family to attend college, graduating in 1984 with a journalism degree from the University of Minnesota. He was instrumental in the Star Tribune's coverage of widespread damage to Lake Street businesses following the 2020 riots, documenting their struggles to rebuild and reopen despite obstacles sometimes created by local government agencies. He enjoys pursuing stories that hold government officials accountable for their actions and putting a spotlight on previously unknown problems.

How did you get into journalism?

I was a criminal justice major, but I switched to journalism after a friend suggested we both take a class that involved writing film and art reviews. I liked it so much that I got a job at the college newspaper.

You've been an investigative reporter for 25 years. Why did you focus on that?

I've always enjoyed uncovering things that others want to keep hidden. Like a lot of reporters who grew up in the 1970s, I'm a child of Watergate, which taught us that journalism can make a difference when reporters keep digging despite fierce opposition.

Hollywood makes investigative reporting seem so exciting. What is the reality of it?

To an outsider, much of the work may seem tedious. Investigations can take months of research, which may mean reading hundreds or even thousands of documents. The paperwork can be overwhelming, so finding a way to organize the information is critical. I usually create spreadsheets that allow me to sort the data, enabling me to spot important patterns and identify crucial people to interview.

Do most of your stories start with a tip from an insider?

Some of my favorite stories began with an unexpected phone call or email, but that's not usually the case. More often, I jump in when the newspaper is trying to understand why or how something keeps happening, whether it's a rash of ATV accidents involving children or an unexpected rise in farm fatalities.

What's the favorite investigation you've worked on?

Our most recent project, Unsettled. This four-part series involved a little-known corner of the financial industry that received almost no media coverage in the past. State officials promised to take swift action to address the abuses we uncovered.

What's your favorite movie about journalism?

"All the President's Men," which I saw in a theater in Eau Claire, Wis., with my dad in 1976. I started reading the newspaper as a young boy, but that was the first time I realized there were people who made their living writing all of those interesting stories.

What career advice do you wish you had gotten 35+ years ago?

I wish someone had told me to take a statistics class. I also wish I spoke 6-7 languages, but I think my brain is too small.