With the rise of the internet and social media, the journalism industry has shifted – and investigative reporting is no exception.

But the skills required to succeed in journalism have not changed much. Skills like persistence and Microsoft Excel (no, not just listing it on a résumé) still pay off and have helped pave the way for success for our journalists.

Our reporters reveal the skills they learned and steps they took to break into the industry:

Lance Williams, senior reporter

Covered: the BALCO sports steroid scandal

“Investigative reporting is all about checking things twice. First to see what’s going on, and then second to source it. A guy telling you something is no protection against a defamation claim. You need a document in which it’s stated – that’s a bulletproof source.”

Bernice Yeung, reporter

Covers: race and gender

“Don’t take no for an answer, be really persistent – but politely persistent! There are many reasons people don’t want to talk to the press, but there are still ways to get them to speak to you. Even in more adversarial situations, persistence is still key. I say, it’s never a ‘No,’ it’s ‘No for now.’ ”

Amy Pyle, editor in chief

Has edited: more than 100 major investigations

“When you get a job, start looking for a story that has an investigative angle and start chipping away at it. Build up a file on it, and then surprise and amaze your boss.”

Will Evans, reporter

Covers: labor issues, workplace discrimination

“IRE, IRE, IRE – Investigative Reporters and Editors, that is. Become a member, read the magazine, attend a conference or at the very least listen to the podcast! By far the best way to get introduced to investigative reporting or, if you already are, to get better.”

Katharine Mieszkowski, senior reporter and producer

Covers: environment, food and water

“Listen to people who have done really great investigations and talk to them about how they did them. It’s often not obvious how they did them. You don’t see the missteps, and the drudgery along the way.”

Stan Alcorn, reporter and producer

Covers: the border, business, politics

“Find a mentor: someone who will hold you accountable and push you. And don’t be intimidated by the word investigative. It’s basically just an extension of the reporting that you’re doing. Most of us are not trained in anything specific anyway.”

Michael Corey, senior news applications developer

Specialties: mapping, the border, public employee pay

“When you’re still in school – learn Excel. You get so much bang for your buck. We look at so many applicants. Every journalism school is teaching multimedia but so many of our applicants don’t have Excel skills. And that’s really important to see. Grow your knowledge: Every time you do a project, make sure it includes something you have no idea how to do yet. That way, you’ll learn how to do something new with every project.”

Aaron Glantz, senior reporter

Covers: housing, conflicts of interest

“One of the most important things you can do is not being afraid to ask tough questions or be the person who asks uncomfortable questions. … Understand that persistence pays off, whether it’s a big project or a whole series of stories you’re doing. You may not find the answer to your question right away, and it may even take you years to find the answer. It may be the fifth, sixth, seventh, or even the 25th story that makes a difference.”