Kate Porter: In-depth pieces topped my story list in 2013

From a Chinese state-owned company's connections to an Ottawa innovation hub, to policing costs and patent trolling, I was lucky enough to do several in-depth investigations this year.

CBC Ottawa reporter Kate Porter looks back at several investigations she did this past year

The nature of daily radio journalism is that every day I pitch a new idea, gather the interviews, write a script, edit the audio and put a finished piece to air before I head home. There's definitely adrenaline in that.

Kate Porter. (CBC)

But from time to time, I get to sink into a big idea, research it in depth, and collect long, thoughtful interviews. Those big stories are a lot of work when you have to file for radio news, radio shows, television and the web. I get bogged down trying to distill my research and reams of tape into something that makes sense on air.

But they're also the most rewarding types of stories for me because I love getting at issues. And in December, when I'm being asked to look back on 2013 and choose my favourites, they top my list.

I was lucky to do several of them this year.

First I saw that a state-owned, Chinese company was going to be part of the city's new plans for an innovation hub at Bayview Yards. With cybersecurity and cybercrime so prominent in the news, that begged some questions.

It also felt good to dig at the reasons behind why policing costs seem to be a perpetual problem for Ontario cities. I had a great interview with Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau in June that felt like we were getting at the crux of the issue.

"When a large percentage of your calls for service don't deal with criminal activity — they're all from a social perspective — that's a problem. "We've inherited that," said Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau in June.

It was well-known that arbitrators had given officers pay raises higher than what the city felt it could pay. But moreover, the chief explained to me, the police are doing more than they ever used to. As other levels of government have cut back, officers have found themselves doing a lot of social work, and even wildlife management. Do we really want to pay police, with their high salaries to do these jobs, the chief asked me, when they're trained to protect the public and enforce the law?

Another story from April keeps landing emails in my inbox. We received an email from an Ottawa woman who had been stuck in bureaucratic limbo over her citizenship application for two years. She was by no means alone. Citizenship and Immigration had some 350,000 people waiting at the time. That's thousands of people with deeply personal stories of frustration, paperwork and waiting. So as we looked into that issue, it turned out more people were being asked to fill out a laborious questionnaire to prove they had been living in Canada. It was a tool the government was using to crack down on fraud, but lawyers argued the department was catching far too many people in its net.

The Ottawa-based company Rockstar purchased patents when Nortel declared bankruptcy and is now suing several companies for infringing on those rights.

And to cap off the year, I got to peek inside the surprisingly fascinating world of patents. We all knew Ottawa had been at the centre of innovation and engineering when one-time tech darling Nortel was in its heyday. But what happened to those inventions when the company went bust? I visited a little company called Rockstar that's busy suing Google, Samsung and the like over their use of old Nortel technology. 

So there you have it. At some point in 2013, each of these stories became my baby. I was drawn deep into every little detail of research and writing. And now, at year's end, I couldn't share just one in a reporter's notebook. But that's why I went into journalism in the first place: the excitement of picking up a different story and meeting someone new for an interesting interview (almost) every day.


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