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We want your story ideas, and better yet, your proof

The news reporters at msnbc.com and NBC News want to hear your story ideas, and today brings a good example of how we try to follow up on the best of those.

Bob Sullivan, ace consumer reporter, has a report today on U.S. taxpayers who are having to wait for their income tax refunds because of a snafu at the IRS. Promise after promise by the IRS has turned out not to be trustworthy. You can read Bob's story here on his Red Tape Chronicles blog at msnbc.com.

That idea came in from a reader who filled out our brief story-suggestion form — and gave us enough information to pursue the story.

Often that's the key: detail and documentation.

A news story idea isn't a rant: The bankers are evil. Well, what exactly are we supposed to do with that? At msnbc.com, the new website, we're in the reporting business, not the commentary business.

A story idea is an intersection of newsworthiness and opportunity: This particular banker who sits on the Federal Reserve board is doing X, Y and Z, and here are the documents to prove it.

Newsworthiness can be in the eye of the beholder, but a story needs to have a mix of significance and interest to rise to the top of our to-do list.

Opportunity means there is enough specific information to allow us a chance to actually go get the story.

Many other good ideas have come in from readers. Some have hit our webpages already (the whiistleblowing witch grounded by the TSA) and others are in the works.

We can never get to them all. But we're working on the best of them, and the very best come with details, phone numbers and documents.

What sort of ideas do we want? We're about investigative reporting on topics that matter: corruption or conflicts of interest, broken systems and lax enforcement, abuses by institutions and individuals with power. Holding accountable those who possess power in the world, whether that's national government, state or local government, nonprofits, or the press itself.

Here's how to reach us: