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Investigative journalist


Investigative journalist

For the "Community" episode, see Investigative Journalism (Community).

Investigative journalism is a form of journalism in which reporters deeply investigate a single topic of interest, often involving crime, political corruption, or corporate wrongdoing. An investigative journalist may spend months or years researching and preparing a report. Investigative journalism is a primary source of information. Most investigative journalism is conducted by newspapers, wire services, and freelance journalists. Practitioners sometimes use the terms "watchdog journalism" or "accountability reporting."

An investigative reporter may make use of one or more of these tools, among others, on a single story:

  • Analysis of documents, such as lawsuits and other legal documents, tax records, government reports, regulatory reports, and corporate financial filings
  • Databases of public records
  • Investigation of technical issues, including scrutiny of government and business practices and their effects
  • Research into social and legal issues
  • Subscription research sources such as LexisNexis
  • Numerous interviews with on-the-record sources as well as, in some instances, interviews with anonymous sources (for example whistleblowers)
  • Federal or state Freedom of Information Acts to obtain documents and data from government agencies

Professional definitions

University of Missouri journalism professor Steve Weinberg defined investigative journalism as: "Reporting, through one's own initiative and work product, matters of importance to readers, viewers, or listeners."[1] In many cases, the subjects of the reporting wish the matters under scrutiny to remain undisclosed. There are currently university departments for teaching investigative journalism. Conferences are conducted presenting peer reviewed research into investigative journalism.

British media theorist Hugo de Burgh (2000) states that: "An investigative journalist is a man or woman whose profession it is to discover the truth and to identify lapses from it in whatever media may be available. The act of doing this generally is called investigative journalism and is distinct from apparently similar work done by police, lawyers, auditors, and regulatory bodies in that it is not limited as to target, not legally founded and closely connected to publicity."[2]


Notable investigative reporters

Awards and organizations

Bureaus, centers, and institutes for investigations

Television programs

See also


Further reading

  • , talk by Seymour Hersh at Boston University, 19 May 2009
  • Video of the 2010 Logan Symposium at University of California Berkeley's Consequences of Investigative Reporting" panel, in which reporters from the Sahara Reporters, the Medill Innocence Project at Northwestern, The Washington Post, The Las Vegas Review-Journal, and The El Paso Times talk about the dangers investigative reporters face; their experiences range from threat to life and limb for reporting on corruption in Africa, to subpoenas aimed at a journalism professor and his students for attempting to bring to light a miscarriage of justice; a Pulitzer Prize winner describes reporting on national security as her sources face internal inquisitions; a veteran reporter in Las Vegas talks about taking on casino moguls and organized crime; while a reporter covering the Mexican border explains how she has survived the violent reality of the undeclared war on our border, April 2010
  • Typewriter Guerillas: Closeups of 20 Top Investigative Reporters, by J.C. Behrens (paperback) 1977.
  • Raising Hell: Straight Talk with Investigative Journalists, by Ron Chepesiuk, Haney Howell, and Edward Lee (paperback) 1997
  • Investigative Reporting: A Study in Technique (Journalism Media Manual), by David Spark, (paperback) 1999.
  • Tell Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism That Changed the World, John Pilger, ed. (paperback) 2005.

External links

  • Global Investigative Journalism (U.K., created 2003)
  • International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (U.S., founded 1997)
  • Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE, since 1975)
  • Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR) was established in 2003 in South Africa.
  • Nepal Khoj Patrakarita Kendra, or Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ, Lalitpur, established 1996)
  • Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ, founded 1989)
  • Centre for Investigative Journalism (London, launched 2003)
  • Bureau of Investigative Journalism (London, launched 2010)
  • Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (Jordan)
  • Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR, U.S., since 1977)
  • Center for Public Integrity's iWatch (U.S., since 1989)
  • Investigative News Network (INN, U.S. created 2009)
  • ProPublica (established 2007)
  • Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism (ABRAJI, established 2002)
  • American University, created 2008)
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